Staffordshire 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.
Staffordshire Police has a clear understanding of its leadership expectations. The force’s leadership principles were developed in consultation with the workforce and are both clearly defined and well understood.
The force’s approach to leadership development is inconsistent. It provides a range of development opportunities, but relies on individuals and line managers to identify leadership training needs. Inconsistent use of performance reviews means the force does not fully understand its leadership capabilities and gaps, although it has introduced two new schemes to help address this. The force could make more use of recruitment methods such as Direct Entry.
The force displays leadership by encouraging innovation, with new ideas and new approaches shared via knowledge exchange groups and practitioners’ panels. It also works with academic institutions, professional bodies and other forces to review its practices. The force understands the importance of being representative of its communities and continues in its efforts to recruit more individuals with protected characteristics (such as age, race, sex, disability), as well as employing external candidates with skills that the force currently lacks. It is also making progress towards building diverse leadership 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.
All leaders are expected to comply with the force’s core values: honesty, impartiality, fairness and respect; and leadership expectations are supported by the force’s ‘Nine golden threads of leadership’. The force’s leadership principles are well established and were developed through consultation with staff. Senior leaders welcome feedback and challenge, and what the force expects from its leaders is well understood at all ranks and grades. The chief constable communicated these expectations personally at her roadshows, and they are reinforced at senior leaders’ events and line management development training. The force recognises that its commitment to leadership could be improved in some areas and has introduced a process whereby senior officers provide support and coaching.
Regular reviews in each local policing area include an element of leadership evaluation and the force is making more use of leadership assessment tools, such as the strength deployment inventory (a tool for identifying and understanding the motivation behind behaviour).
During HMIC’s 2015 leadership inspection some officers said they had not had a formal appraisal for several years. At the time, the force had just launched a performance review system but, while its use is increasing, reviews have been completed by just half of the workforce, making it difficult to assess leadership quality. The force has recently introduced a leadership passport. This is part of the personal development programme, includes a personal training record and is in line with the areas for improvement outlined by HMIC.
A lack of understanding of its leadership capabilities is limiting the force’s ability to identify and respond to leadership gaps. In 2015 HMIC noted that the force was developing its skills matrix; it is now using this to identify workforce capabilities and gaps. However, the skills matrix does not map against leadership skills particularly. It focuses on operational or technical skills gaps, although it does cover the public order command.
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.
The force conducts bi-monthly team reviews but its limited knowledge about leadership capability potentially restricts its ability to identify leadership problems promptly. The force applies a broad range of approaches to leadership development, including first and second line manager training (for sergeants, inspectors and police staff equivalent), individual training, mentoring, support for external training, work-based assessments and 360-degree feedback tools. However, the onus remains on individuals and local line managers to identify leadership training needs. Its leadership passport should give a better structure to its leadership programme and help staff manage their own leadership development. The force will need to communicate this new initiative extensively across the organisation, as HMIC found mixed levels of understanding and knowledge.
The force understands the importance of predicting likely gaps and the potential loss of specialist skills, particularly in relation to senior and specialised posts. Chief officers have agreed to address these through internal and external promotions and transfers. The force has made positive progress towards enhancing its leadership capability, with two chief officers recently recruited from other forces. It is also planning to use additional recruitment methods such as Direct Entry and Fast Track. However, recruitment opportunities could be used more effectively towards this same end.
In 2015 HMIC advised that the force would benefit from a more structured scheme to identify and develop potential senior leaders. However, its methods for doing so, including a new ‘talent capture’ exercise, are neither used consistently nor applied across all ranks and grades. The force has changed its promotion process to make it fairer, but there is no clear approach for identifying potential senior leaders, little evidence that personalised development programmes are being evaluated, and no positive action to ensure equal opportunity for talent development. The force is, however, looking to recruit an equality and inclusion officer to promote the organisation to under-represented groups and to promote equality of opportunity.
Areas for improvement
- Staffordshire Police should conduct an evaluation of its leadership programme and talent management processes to ensure a structured, comprehensive and transparent approach in order to identify and develop potential leaders.
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.
The force proactively seeks new ideas and approaches, working with academic institutions and professional bodies and using peer reviews to study its practices and obtain feedback. For example, its work with Staffordshire and Keele universities has led to changes in how it deals with domestic abuse. HMIC found many examples of a willingness to try out new ideas, including the introduction of ‘Staffordshire smart alert’ which gives the public access to up-to-date, localised crime alerts and community safety advice. The force welcomes innovation, with staff at all levels encouraged to put forward suggestions through the ‘bright ideas’ scheme. Local managers and chief officers are willing to evaluate the potential of any proposals. One example is a new initiative involving a group of organisations working together to support elderly members of the community, which was suggested by a PCSO.
The force works with a commercial ICT (information and communication technology) partner with a view to becoming a ‘beacon force’, an example of excellence, for ICT developments. The deputy chief constable is the national police lead for digital forensics and the force aims to become a national ‘test bed’ for technological innovation. The force has recently introduced practitioners’ panels with officers and staff to develop good practice internally and to identify areas for improvement. HMIC also found examples of Staffordshire Police sharing good practice with colleagues elsewhere in the service. Examples include its approach to the health and wellbeing of employees.
The force realises it must develop diverse leadership teams. The involvement of community panels and interviews by panels of junior members of the workforce is helping encourage a diverse mix of skills, backgrounds and experience at a senior level. Increased use of the appraisal system, the ‘leadership passport’ and the strength deployment inventory should help the force to improve all of its leadership teams. Senior leaders understand the importance of career development for staff with protected characteristics. The force is hoping to become more representative of the community by recruiting an equalities and inclusion officer. While some progress is being made in resolving gender inequality above inspector rank, more work is required to resolve this across the force.