North Wales 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.
North Wales Police is a well led force and can show that it understands the capability and capacity of its workforce. The force has provided a clear, realistic and motivating sense of its future plans and priorities and has invested in ensuring that it communicates its vision, ’A Safer North Wales‘, to its workforce and outside the organisation. The force has been largely successful in this, though needs to do more work to ensure that this message reaches the whole workforce. The force engages positively with the workforce, though employees expressed concerns to us during our inspection that the leadership programme is not fully inclusive.
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.
North Wales Police has a clear understanding of the current state of its leadership at every level, including its strengths and weaknesses, and its capacity and capability. The force can demonstrate that it has effectively communicated expectations, and that these are understood across the organisation. The force promotes leadership standards and development opportunities through the seven leadership principles, regular senior management team meetings and the people strategy. The chief constable has personally issued messages concerning acceptable behaviour and standards which has helped the workforce be clear about what the force expects of them.
The force can also demonstrate how its workforce perceives both senior leadership and leadership in general. There is unambiguous and well-communicated direction from the chief officer team, and the workforce recognises and values the efforts being made to make the leadership more engaged and approachable. The chief officer team is well-respected and looked-on favourably at all levels within the organisation. However, HMIC also found evidence that some of the workforce felt that they do not see the chief officer team as often as they would like and that there is a disconnect between some senior managers and junior staff.
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.
North Wales Police has provided a clear, realistic and motivating sense of its future plans and priorities, and has invested time and effort in ensuring that its vision ‘A Safer North Wales’ is communicated to the workforce and those outside the organisation. We found a consistent message from senior staff regarding the importance of communicating those priorities that relate to values and behaviours, but HMIC found evidence that these messages did not always reach all members of the workforce. Senior and middle management were very clear about the force’s future plans and priorities but some junior staff felt that these plans needed to be more effectively communicated, particularly those in more remote parts of the force.
The force fully understands the leadership skills that it will require of its workforce in the future and is taking effective steps to develop them. We found no overarching plan to develop future workforce capability, but the force’s strategic assessment and Operation Future have identified gaps in future development. The force’s annual strategic threat assessment seeks to identify the threat, harm and risks faced by North Wales communities, to identify emerging crime types and to assess the resource needed to provide an effective response.
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 could be doing more to manage effectively the performance of its workforce. HMIC found that the force has given its senior and middle managers clear direction about what good performance is, but that performance at junior levels of the force is managed inconsistently. Officers said that they used to be measured on performance but that there was no longer a formal process for doing so, and that monthly performance reviews were recommended but not compulsory. As a result, some of the workforce felt that there is no structured or clear approach to dealing with performance management.
The force could do more to ensure that there are open and transparent processes to identify and manage talented individuals, both from within policing and beyond. The force identifies and manages talented individuals through its leadership programme, but we found some concerns that this process is not fully inclusive, while the selection procedure is not well understood.
The lack of a fully transparent and well-understood development process has given rise to the perception among some staff and officers that leadership roles and opportunities for development are being given to a small number of individuals handpicked by managers who favour them.
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.
Leadership in North Wales Police has resulted in a stronger focus in improving the legitimacy of the force, in the way it keeps people safe and reduces crime, though there are still areas where improvements could be made. A positive aspect relates to how the force has claritfied how police staff and officers should behave ethically. This has been made clear through the force’s ethics, leadership and culture committee and its leadership academy.
However, during our inspection, HMIC found that not all of the workforce understood fully the Code of Ethics. Police staff and officers did have a basic understanding of the principles of the code, though the force could improve this by ensuring that more of its workforce complete the available training.
Encouragingly, HMIC found that police community support officers (PCSOs), who provide a key lead in working closely with the community, have a good understanding of the communities in which they work. We found good examples of PCSOs leading by engaging with local communities, and the force also makes good use of social media tools. However, HMIC could only find limited evidence of the force regularly overseeing the objectives of its plans to engage with communities, and we saw no reference to engagement activities in the daily management meeting which we observed during our inspection.