Durham 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.
Durham Constabulary communicates extensively with its workforce to define and communicate its leadership expectations. The chief officer team champions the ‘Durham Difference’ and welcomes challenge at all times. The constabulary uses several approaches to ensure a balanced perspective, including 360-degree feedback, personality ‘pack’ profiling, formal mentoring and coaching agreements.
Senior leaders communicate regularly with staff at all levels, and chief officers carry out formal mentoring and coaching programmes. The constabulary understands its leadership teams’ capabilities and proactively looks for candidates with senior leadership potential. The constabulary recruits externally. Three candidates from other forces were recruited recently to chief inspector and superintendent roles. Durham Constabulary demonstrates best practice across many areas and regularly hosts visits from other forces to share information. Officers are encouraged to be innovative and offer suggestions for improvement. The constabulary recognises the need to increase employee diversity above and beyond the nine protected characteristics, which include age; disability; and gender reassignment, and works hard to appeal to individuals from backgrounds where joining the police is not the norm.
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.
Durham Constabulary has worked with its staff to define and communicate its leadership expectations, which have evolved over the past five years to reflect the constabulary’s values. Chief officers are both accessible and approachable, communicating regularly with staff at all levels and sharing their expectations via road shows, webcasts and blog posts. Although the staff that HMIC spoke to were unable to say exactly how leadership expectations were developed, (as they had been accepted and understood for some time), there was an overwhelming sense that individuals felt valued, supported, and able to approach and challenge senior leaders.
The constabulary has developed formal leadership programmes such as its sergeants’ development course, and these are complemented by coaching and mentoring sessions by the chief officer team and senior leaders. The constabulary also uses a number of innovative techniques to develop leadership skills, including leader personality profiling and neuro-linguistic programming training.
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.
HMIC is satisfied that Durham Constabulary can identify any problems within its leadership teams as they arise. Its leadership is visible and accessible to all ranks and grades. A strategic resourcing group meets every six weeks to identify and respond quickly to any leadership issues, and the constabulary’s leadership expectations are included in all leadership development programmes. Leaders are expected to play an active role in staff development. The constabulary runs a neuro-linguistics programme to improve communication skills, and has a strong women’s support network, which is in fact open to all members of the workforce. Staff are encouraged to study, with several currently taking degrees, focused on policing, at Cambridge University.
The constabulary is prepared to recruit externally when necessary. Three candidates from other forces were recruited recently to chief inspector and superintendent roles. The constabulary does not use Direct Entry to fill gaps in leadership, but a new, targeted recruitment campaign should help the constabulary to employ a diverse group of potential future leaders. The constabulary plans to recruit officers directly from university, focusing on individuals who are the first in their family to take a degree course, in order to encourage recruits from poorer backgrounds and offer the constabulary a better understanding of less affluent communities.
Although the constabulary does not run any talent schemes, it understands its workforce well enough to identify talented future leaders, and offers development opportunities linked to Durham and Cambridge universities. A £5,000 bursary is awarded to individuals who enter the Police National Assessment Centre (PNAC) successfully. HMIC found that training was available at all levels and that staff thought development opportunities were fair, transparent and available to all who show potential. Leadership and developmental opportunity is one of Durham Constabulary’s main strengths.
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.
Durham Constabulary works on crime deterrent projects with several universities, including Durham, Cambridge, Huddersfield and Leeds, and continually looks for new ways to improve policing. Officers are also encouraged to suggest ideas for improvement. Over the past twelve months, forty suggestions were made through its ‘Bright Ideas’ scheme, with eight having been implemented to date. The constabulary holds an annual problem orientated policing (POP) award, won in 2015 by the safeguarding team for its work with a teenager who was involved in crime and at risk of child sexual exploitation. Thanks to the team’s efforts, the youngster gave evidence against an offender, stopped committing crime, assisted in creating a child sexual exploitation profile, and now works with the constabulary as a volunteer as well as being a young ambassador.
As a high performing force recognised for demonstrating good practice across many areas of its work, Durham Constabulary regularly hosts visits from forces across Europe. Around the time of HMIC’s inspection, Merseyside, Cheshire and Surrey police forces visited, while officers from Bahrain recently came over to learn the principles of the ‘Durham Difference’. The constabulary welcomes the opportunity to share its knowledge, in spite of the additional work this creates.
Durham Constabulary recognises the importance of a diverse workforce that is able to communicate and work with its communities. It recently changed its process for hiring control room staff, moving from graduate recruitment and focusing instead on an individual’s ability to express empathy and deal with more adversarial callers. The constabulary knows it must increase employee diversity above and beyond the nine protected characteristics, and is working to attract individuals from backgrounds where joining the police force is not the norm. As a result, 25 percent of its police cadets are now from vulnerable backgrounds, as are 50 percent of its modern apprentices. The constabulary also supports the ‘Haggrid’ project, where an officer is seconded to work with a charity involved in horticultural work aimed at preventing youths turning to crime. This scheme has been so successful that one participant became a force employee, increasing the diversity of background and skills.