Northumbria 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.
Chief officers from Northumbria Police are developing their leadership expectations with the workforce as part of a ‘Proud to Protect’ programme, which launched in 2016. HMIC found most people across all ranks and grades in the force had a good understanding of this work. The force is also developing a more sophisticated appraisal of skills and capacity. It has a growing understanding of the gaps and areas for improvement in its leadership capability.
The force has a well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development. While the force has several methods to identify and address gaps in leadership capability, these are yet to be evaluated as they have only recently been introduced. Future leadership requirements are clear, and there is some evidence that the force is using recruitment to support the development of leadership and meet future requirements. The force has effective methods of supporting potential senior leaders to develop a range of professional and leadership skills.
The force can demonstrate an active search for new ideas and working practices from other police forces and organisations. New methods are adopted swiftly and flexibly. The force is developing a culture of continuous improvement, and innovation is becoming part of the force ethos. Members of the workforce are encouraged to submit suggestions to accessible and straightforward systems, and are given credit for their suggestions. The ‘Change in a day’ programme is seen as an opportunity for all officers and staff to play a significant part in developing an efficient and effective police service.
The understanding of diversity extends beyond protected characteristics such as race, gender and sexuality, and considers how diversity of background, experience and skills can strengthen teams. The force is aware of the gaps in these areas, and can demonstrate how it is planning to improve its understanding. The force has achieved some success in developing diverse leadership teams. It can demonstrate clear and positive processes for creating diversity within teams. It is considering how posting decisions can help develop experience, background and skills; and is making some use of recruitment opportunities as well as wider opportunities such as secondments and Direct Entry.
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.
Northumbria Police consulted members of the force when the leadership expectations were originally created. The force arranged focus groups where staff could provide feedback on the proposals. This helped to shape the final document, which has now been adopted across the force. HMIC is satisfied that staff from across the organisation understood the principles of creating a strong leadership culture, and that the values were being widely displayed across leadership teams.
HMIC found that the new leadership values had been adopted across the force and that their impact on the force’s culture was recognised as positive. The chief constable is achieving significant culture change, through his ‘Proud to Protect’ campaign. In the last 12 months he has visited all staff and explained what the force is trying to achieve to ensure the entire force understands what is expected from leaders. Senior officers are leading by example. Members of the workforce told us that senior officers are noticeably more visible and approachable.
Northumbria Police recognises that it does not yet understand fully the leadership capability across the force. A number of methods are being used to improve this and details are included within the people strategy, which sets out how the force will enhance understanding of leadership in order to make the best use of resources and deal with future problems.
The force assesses individual officers using 360-degree feedback and offers neuro-linguistic programming for personal development. Both methods examine character traits, rather than hard skills; for example, the neuro-linguistic model emphasises the relationship between an individual’s thinking and their communication preference and the ability to establish rapport with another person. The force has recently relaunched the annual performance development review (PDR) process. This is an important means of directing the development of individuals. It is too early to judge the success of the PDRs, but HMIC is satisfied that its introduction and importance are widely understood.
The importance of completing assessments of levels of competence across the workforce is understood. For example, the training needs analysis document explains how the force intends to train police sergeants to assessor standards so that the force can continue to identify gaps in capability. Understanding its leadership strengths and weaknesses and the impact these are having on its workforce is critical to the force achieving its aims.
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.
Northumbria Police has the capability to solve leadership problems when they arise. During our inspection we saw a number of examples of swift and decisive intervention from the leadership of the force, which reinforced the message that standards of leadership must not drop.
The force has a well-considered and coherent approach to leadership development. The force does have some methods to identify and fill gaps in leadership, which are evaluated for their effectiveness. All new inspectors and sergeants are trained in a variety of subject areas including safeguarding vulnerable adults and children, leadership expectations and wellbeing and assessor training.
Northumbria Police uses a range of recruitment methods to address skill gaps and is introducing a system of secondments which will allow officers and staff to gain a wider range of experience. The force is considering recruitment of inspectors via Direct Entry, though it has opted not to pursue this approach for superintendents. The force has also recognised that Police Now presents a good opportunity to attract members of minority communities and thereby broaden its skill base. This method of recruiting is currently being considered in support of its ongoing recruitment campaign. The force is recruiting externally, using a new campaign which concentrates on careers in the police and the many different areas in which people can work in a police force.
The force has transparent and well-publicised systems which identify talent. ‘Lead, excel and develop’ (LEAD) is a six-month programme, open to all officers up to the rank of sergeant and police staff equivalents. Approximately 2 percent of the highest-achieving officers and staff will join. The programme is designed in part to help participants learn how to deal with leadership problems. Officers and staff that HMIC spoke to said that they believed that opportunities to enter the scheme were fair, transparent and open to all.
Northumbria Police has effective methods of supporting potential senior leaders, and helping them to develop a range of professional and leadership skills. This includes arranging renewed access to the College of Policing’s national senior leadership programme for newly-promoted chief inspectors, superintendents and police staff equivalents.
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.
Northumbria Police is willing to look at other forces and organisations to identify best practice. Suggestions are encouraged from all officers and staff, who can submit ideas using schemes such as ‘Quick wins’, ‘Change in a day’ and the change programme. The first ‘Change in a day’ session, in December 2015, received three suggestions from two sergeants and a constable. All the ideas were given to the chief constable, who considered the potential benefits, and authorised the changes the same day. Generally, HMIC found that all ranks and grades felt they had an opportunity to influence and create a more efficient and effective police force. Officers and staff that we spoke to knew about the variety of suggestion schemes.
The force aims to share best practice with other police forces and partners. A mental health triage scheme has made significant savings on police and mental health services’ time (the force reported this as 600 hours each month). The force has arranged a regional mental health seminar which it will run jointly with partners and other police forces in order to share best practice.
Northumbria Police recognises the importance of having a balanced and diverse leadership team, and has recently recruited an assistant chief constable and two superintendents from other forces. The force is making concerted efforts to enhance leadership opportunities for female officers and staff. Its Inspiring Leadership Conference 2016 was for female officers and staff who want to develop their leadership potential.
The force uses focus groups with under-represented groups to help identify officers from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who might join the force. Northumbria Police is also the regional lead for ‘engagement’ with the community and people from diverse backgrounds. The regional group of forces meets regularly, and will discuss improving opportunities to join the police for people from diverse backgrounds.