Dorset 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; 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.
Dorset Police engages effectively with its workforce to ensure there is a clear understanding of leadership at all levels. We found that there is a good understanding of leadership values across the workforce. However, we also found evidence that some staff have mixed views about the relative importance of the values and how consistently they are applied.
Dorset Police uses different approaches to understand the leadership strengths across its workforce and has a well-developed understanding of its leadership capability. HMIC noted that it has effective processes to address leadership gaps. We welcome the force’s recognition of the importance of leadership development and its commitment to improve its capability; however, talent development for police staff appears more limited than it does for officers. Although the force promotes its leadership programmes, it could improve its appraisal of how effectively its programmes have addressed leadership shortcomings, supported development and secured participation from police staff and officers from under-represented groups.
Dorset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police show a strong commitment to working collaboratively, which allows them to exploit opportunities to share good practice and help promote a culture of innovation. HMIC is pleased that Dorset Police has explored working practices in other forces to understand the services it will deliver in future and hopes to see this approach shared more widely.
Dorset Police’s understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics, and recognises how individual diversity in experience and skills strengthens teams and improves leadership. The senior leadership team maintains oversight of the deployment of officers and staff, and takes skills and experience into account to achieve balance across teams.
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.
Dorset Police has conveyed its leadership values and expectations to its entire workforce through a series of roadshows to ensure that there is a clear understanding of leadership at all levels. The chief officer team uses the slogan ‘Know your business, know your people, know yourself’ to reinforce the force’s expectations of leadership. There is a good understanding of the values across the workforce. In particular, we found evidence that supervisors understood the expectations which had been placed on them and noted that new supervisors received specific leadership training. However, we also found evidence that some staff had mixed views about the relative importance of the values and how consistently they were applied.
The force has a well-developed understanding of its leadership capability. It has mapped the skills, career histories and areas for development for all staff and officers across the force and makes extensive use of 360-degree feedback as part of its annual workforce assessments. It combines these data to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of leadership teams. This system is complemented by a self-assessment tool, which is used by officers for their personal development needs as well as to access assessments of their personality and leadership style. These tools enable individuals to understand their characteristics and the force to understand leadership at each rank and grade.
The force has well-established processes for responding effectively to leadership gaps as they emerge. Its people resourcing and development department is responsible for maintaining a detailed workforce plan. The department predicts future staff turnover, responds to training requirements, anticipates skills shortages and addresses talent management demands. It plans the workforce and has responsibility for the police officer promotion process up to the rank of chief superintendent. It predicts future gaps across different ranks and schedules promotion boards accordingly. A board that oversees postings and considers future workforce plans provides governance.
Dorset Police has formed a strategic alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police. This is a formal agreement to collaborate and enables good practice to be shared. We noted the introduction of a People Strategy (2016–2020) that defines how both forces operate jointly on matters relating to their workforce, including future resource planning and talent management.
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.
Dorset Police recognises the importance of leadership development and is committed to making continuous improvements in its leadership capability. It has a leadership development strategy and programme. Leadership development forms part of its training business plan and the importance of effective leadership is reflected in its workforce development plan.
The force uses a number of development programmes to enhance its leadership capabilities. It has separate programmes to support the progression of senior members of the workforce. The force also actively encourages staff to seek vocational qualifications and provides access to academic opportunities. It promotes coaching and mentoring, with 80 staff working as mentors to 299 individuals. This provides benefits to mentors and mentees and also enriches the force’s understanding of leadership. We consider that the force could do more to assess how effectively these programmes have addressed leadership shortcomings, supported leadership development and secured participation from police staff and officers in under-represented groups.
The force uses a talent development programme to identify the best candidates from its workforce for future leadership roles. Although senior members of police staff are able to obtain individual support for their professional development, HMIC was told this did not apply to police staff grades. Applications for senior leadership courses and events are managed through the annual appraisal process, but talent development for police staff appears more limited than it does for officers. For more junior ranks, the force focuses on individuals who are undertaking ‘acting’ sergeant duties. Those identified as having potential are given mentoring and other forms of support.
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.
Dorset Police demonstrates a willingness to learn from and work with other forces and organisations. In addition to its alliance with Devon and Cornwall Police, there is wider collaboration across the southwest region and the force has worked with other forces, such as South Wales Police.
The force uses an online forum for submitting questions to chief officers as a way of encouraging the workforce to give feedback and suggest improvements. In some cases, the individuals making suggestions were contacted directly by the relevant senior officer. We were told that this approach was viewed positively by the workforce.
Dorset Police’s understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics, such as age, disability or gender reassignment, in recognising how diversity in experience and skills strengthens teams and improves leadership. With Devon and Cornwall Police, the force aspires to ‘efficiently and effectively recruit, retain, develop and support individuals, bringing them together to form high-performing teams, which have the ability to contribute fully to the organisational and operational success of both forces’.
The chief constable has demonstrated a long-term commitment to increasing diversity; her personal investment in encouraging and supporting senior female leaders is recognised by the workforce, including staff associations and networks. Bespoke events are run throughout the force to promote opportunities for personal development. The senior leadership team maintains oversight of the deployment of officers and staff to achieve balance across teams. HMIC was told that concerns with the previous postings process had been identified and acted on. The senior leadership team now ensures that opportunities are provided in an open, clear and justifiable way that recognises development needs, skill sets and aspirations. This allows the force to demonstrate to its staff that it operates fairly.