Bedfordshire PEEL 2015
How well has the force performed in our other inspections?
In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections (for instance, our 2016 leadership assessment); others are joint inspections.
Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.
As part of HMIC’s annual all-force inspections into police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) in 2015, HMIC assessed how well led forces are at every rank and grade of the organisation and across all areas inspected in PEEL. We reviewed how well a force understands and is developing its leaders; whether it has set a clear and compelling future direction; and how well it motivates and engages the workforce.
Bedfordshire Police has some leadership strengths, and the new chief constable has articulated a clear vision for future improvements. The force has a clear sense of its strategic direction and this can be seen through its work to introduce a new policing model and its strong approach to collaboration with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary.
HMIC found recent improvements in the way the force manages the performance of police staff and officers, with the introduction of a refreshed performance review system. However, the force does not as yet have a way of identifying and developing talented staff and officers for promotion nor does it have a leadership programme in place.
How well does the force have a clear understanding of the current state of its leadership at every level?
HMIC examined how well forces understand the strengths and weaknesses of leadership across the force and how well the workforce understands its leadership role. Strong, clear leadership across every rank and grade is vital to the effectiveness and efficiency of a modern and capable police force.
Bedfordshire Police does not yet have a full understanding of the capacity and capability of its leadership at all levels. However, the work it has completed on the new operating model enables it to understand current and future requirements of the leadership roles it will need. The new chief constable has articulated clearly the values and expectations he requires of leaders within the force.
To improve workforce engagement, the force is developing ways to make sure that leadership messages are communicated, received and then understood. This includes a new initiative, ‘Time for Tea’, where officers and staff can talk to senior leaders to discuss any issues that are concerning them. Another initiative is called ‘Leading the force together’ where supervisors receive updates from the change programme team on the new workforce model and other changes and can make suggestions to shape and develop the force’s plans. These seminars are a two-way process which the force hopes will invite and encourage officers and staff to challenge proposals. The force has conducted regular staff surveys, most recently in 2013. Results of this survey were published internally, together with a summary of the force’s response to the issues raised.
How well has the force provided a clear and compelling sense of the future direction of the organisation?
HMIC examined the extent to which forces have set out a clear, compelling and realistic sense of future direction, because it is important to ensure that the workforce is motivated to build for the future and that the force knows the kinds of skills it is looking to develop. We were also interested to find out how well leaders are making use of new approaches to enable forces to meet future financial challenges.
The force has communicated to officers and staff a future direction that is ambitious, although it still requires further work to ensure the workforce understands the changes it will bring. Much of the force’s future direction relates to its new operating model which the force has designed so as to give greater protection to vulnerable people, to improve the force’s preventative approach through community policing and to make better use of technology.
The workforce understands the general details of the new model, though staff and officers have not been involved fully in its design. During our inspection, the force could not articulate a clear plan to address the cultural challenge, in order to ensure the successful implementation of the new operating model.
The force is seeking to use new ideas and approaches, especially by using new technology. This includes making use of mobile data, so officers can access information while out on patrol. This has the advantage of making the officers more visible to the public, as they previously had to return to their police station to access this information. We found extensive communication and engagement with the workforce in relation to the strong programme of collaboration with Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary and also found clear plans for further savings through this programme.
How is the force developing leadership, motivating the workforce and encouraging staff engagement?
HMIC examined how well forces identify and develop leadership, as good quality of leadership is key to ensuring that forces overcome their challenges of reducing crime and meeting the needs of victims. We were not looking for one particular style of leadership, but focused on how well leaders motivate their workforce and improve performance to provide a quality service to the public.
The force has taken some steps to improve how it manages workforce performance, though further work is required. The force recognises that its appraisal process has been ineffective for the last two years, and has updated it to ensure that all staff and officers within the organisation have objectives that are aligned with force objectives. The force expects its managers to use the process to identify the skills and aspirations of those they manage. While this is positive, it will take some time for it to become routine practice, make a difference and gain credibility among the workforce.
HMIC found that the force has a reactive approach to developing those with leadership potential. While opportunities for mentoring and career development exist, it is left to individuals to seek out those opportunities for themselves. The force does not have a leadership programme which may limit its ability to identify and develop future or existing leaders. The absence of a force-wide governance arrangement to identify and manage talented individuals may result in a lack of fairness and the force may fail to identify the most talented people to overcome its future challenges.
To what extent is leadership improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of the force?
As good quality leadership is an important factor of policing performance, HMIC examined how leaders are improving the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of forces through clear, reasoned and swift actions. This is the first time HMIC has graded forces on their legitimacy, so no year-on-year comparison is possible for this pillar.
Bedfordshire Police has recognised that it needs to implement a new policing model to improve its approach to crime prevention, managing demand and safeguarding vulnerable adults and children. The new model is designed to improve the service the force provides to the public.
Leadership in Bedfordshire Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their effectiveness. The force has shown good leadership by improving its investigation of crime, particularly as this has been achieved while the force moves to a new policing model. It has located experienced criminal investigation department officers near to the new community team to provide support and advice to less experienced officers. This means that victims of crime are receiving an improved level of service because the force is investigating crimes more effectively.
Leadership in Bedfordshire Police has resulted in a stronger focus on improving their in terms of how it keeps people safe and reduces crime. The force recognises that it uses Taser more frequently than similar sized police forces, but it examines each use to identify any misuse. The force has shown it has good leadership through its work with local communities to oversee the use of stop and search and has ensured it is compliant with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.