Cumbria PEEL 2016
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.
Police leadership is crucial in enabling a force to be effective, efficient and legitimate. This inspection focused on how a force understands, develops and displays leadership through its organisational development.
Cumbria Constabulary has clear expectations of its leaders. The senior leadership team has introduced a new vision and values for the constabulary, which is widely understood throughout the organisation. The constabulary used a staff survey to seek feedback and is addressing the concerns raised; staff feel that the chief officer team responded well to their feedback. Performance meetings at strategic, area and team level provide good accountability and allow managers to understand the relative strengths of leaders. However, the constabulary does not have a full understanding of the skills and potential of all its officers and staff because its new performance system is not fully in place. The new system is part of a strategy to identify potential senior leaders. The constabulary has leadership programmes, tailored to different ranks, and has plans for additional programmes.
Leadership problems are identified quickly and managed appropriately; emerging disciplinary issues are raised at an early stage. The constabulary plans to introduce ‘business improvement groups’ to seek new ideas from the workforce, but the workforce is not aware of these plans. At present, officers and staff can only make suggestions through the ‘ask the chief’ intranet forum or their line manager.
The constabulary is aiming to recruit and retain excellent police staff and officers to meet future needs and develop internal talent. There is scope to develop diverse leadership teams more widely. Recent selection processes have been internal, and have seen current members of the constabulary promoted, although the most recent senior appointment at chief officer rank was through an open recruitment process, and an assistant chief constable was recruited from outside Cumbria Constabulary.
How well does the force understand leadership?
A good understanding of leadership capabilities and expectations is critical to the effective functioning of forces. How forces engage with their workforces when setting leadership expectations is vital in ensuring that police staff and officers feel enabled to lead in an ethical way and to challenge the expectations appropriately.
Forces’ understanding should also extend to their leadership strengths and weaknesses across every rank and grade. This includes an understanding of leadership styles and personality types of individuals, and how they affect wider team dynamics. Forces should be able to take this knowledge and use it to adapt quickly to identify any gaps or issues in leadership.
Cumbria Constabulary has clear expectations of its leaders. The senior leadership team has introduced a new vision and values for the constabulary. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to ensure it is understood by the workforce and it is widely publicised. The constabulary has sought feedback from staff about the problems that affect their attitudes and motivation at work. The constabulary has made changes as a result, and this responsiveness has been appreciated by the workforce.
The constabulary has a leadership development framework that sets out leadership expectations and also emphasises that individuals are responsible for their own development. Supervisors are expected to take an interest in the development of their staff and ensure that they can achieve their potential. However, a formal performance review is not in place for everyone. Records of these meetings are only kept locally by line managers and cannot be reviewed centrally. A central record would help the constabulary to understand the overall outcome of performance reviews and staff leadership potential. The constabulary plans to centralise performance appraisal records in 2017.
‘Performance development conferences’ across different areas are held every four months, which give chief officers an opportunity to question senior managers about their leadership, decisions and progress in support of constabulary priorities. These meetings are repeated at departmental and team level across the constabulary, and allow managers to understand the relative strengths of leaders.
How well does the force develop leadership?
The way in which a force identifies and develops leadership skills is crucial in making sure they perform well now and in the future. Forces should identify leadership development programmes, containing a broad range of approaches, beyond just formal training, to develop leadership.
Forces’ knowledge of their current leadership capability should also mean that they are aware of the leadership skills and experience they do not currently possess, and are seeking to recruit to address this.
Cumbria Constabulary identifies leadership problems quickly and manages them appropriately. There is a strong emphasis on line supervisors managing and developing the workforce. In partnership with Lancaster University, the constabulary has established an executive leadership development programme for officers and it plans to develop a similar programme for all supervisory ranks. A mentor for each leadership course intake can give course members individual feedback; senior leaders told us that this had given them a better understanding of how their leadership style affected others so they could make adjustments. A core leadership programme is already in place for sergeants, inspectors and police staff equivalents, and a new senior leadership programme is planned.
Although there is no formal talent management process to identify potential leaders, the new ‘people strategy’ aims to recruit and retain excellent police staff and officers to meet future needs and develop internal talent. The new universal performance development review process is part of the strategy to identify potential senior leaders. The constabulary’s resourcing panel ensures that officers are given opportunities to develop. The panel is chaired by the deputy chief constable and considers opportunities for temporary or acting promotions. Such posts are subject to ‘expressions of interest’ to ensure that staff are given a fair opportunity to be considered for a post, and require line manager support.
Newly promoted sergeants and inspectors need to complete a workbook that must be signed off before they are confirmed in their rank and can access a range of leadership modules to help them to develop, covering critical incident training, managing team performance, safeguarding and public protection. All candidates at leadership interviews are given development plans, whether they are successful or not.
How well does the force display leadership?
Good leadership encourages and develops a wide range of people, embraces change and actively supports the development of new ideas. While it is important for forces to ensure that they are representative of the communities they serve, truly diverse leadership teams are built around the wider experience, background and skills of individuals.
Cumbria Constabulary plans to introduce ‘business improvement groups’ in the near future to encourage new ideas from current staff, new recruits and transferees. However, we found that the workforce was not aware of these plans. At present, unless they use the ‘ask the chief’ intranet forum, or make suggestions to their line manager, officers and staff have no means of making suggestions that might improve the services which the constabulary provides. Superintendents and chief inspectors meet every month at the leadership and development board to discuss new ideas and working practices, and then publicise them throughout the constabulary. Senior managers have visited other police forces to learn more about managing demand and alternative business improvement and development strategies. The constabulary has partnerships with several universities and undertakes research across a range of mainly technological themes.
The constabulary holds awareness events for staff to promote diversity and tackle under-representation. For example, there have been network events for women, and armed response unit open days to encourage advancement and recruitment to under-represented departments.
However, we found limited evidence that the constabulary is challenging itself to develop diverse leadership teams through recruitment, secondments, collaborative arrangements or consultancy. Recent selection processes have been internal and current members of the constabulary have been promoted. However, an open recruitment process was used for the most recent senior appointment at chief officer rank, and an assistant chief constable was recruited from outside the constabulary. The constabulary intends to develop future leaders from within. It has no plans for Direct Entry at senior ranks. If leaders are only recruited from inside the constabulary, external candidates with new ideas and skills, who might enable more diverse teams to be developed, will be excluded.