Forces failing to publicise leadership development opportunities

Too few forces are doing enough to manage talent and demonstrate how new leaders are chosen, according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Feb 8, 2018

Too few forces are doing enough to manage talent and demonstrate how new leaders are chosen, according to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). A lack of transparency in leadership selection processes has convinced some officers they are unfair, the inspection of police leadership has found. Although there is no evidence to suggest promotion frameworks are unfair, HMICFRS claims the current approach could endanger officers’ faith in the system. Many forces also lack adequate succession plans to fill future specialist vacancies, and not all officers are being given the same access to progression and development opportunities. However, HMICFRS was pleased to see most leaders have committed to improvement and continue to treat their workforce with fairness and integrity. HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “I come from a background in the armed services, where the method of selection, the criteria that are used, who’s on the board and how the process works is pretty much universally understood. “Part of the problem with policing is some of the people who aren’t in the process just don’t understand how it works. If it’s not well publicised and transparent, people have a natural tendency to think it’s working in ways that aren’t fair and don’t encourage them to go forward. “We’ve seen no evidence to say they aren’t fair selection procedures. What I would say is some are demonstrably fairer than others, and police officers and the wider workforce do not understand fully how the processes work. Therefore, they don’t have faith in them.” The report, published on Thursday (February 8), examined the quality of police leadership at all levels in the service. The results were mostly positive and leaders were praised for their focus on encouraging feedback and developing officer and staff wellbeing. Inspectors found no evidence that leadership selection processes are unfair, adding that “the old days of nepotism and favouritism are long gone”. However, good practice in the selection system is not consistently applied across the country. Forces have different policies on whether recommendations from immediate seniors should be seen on selection panels, and on hiring conspicuously independent members of selection boards. Some forces also lacked mechanisms to identify or develop talented leadership candidates, which has led to questions over how unbiased selection processes are. This may be because not all members of the workforce have equal access to progression opportunities – just three out of 43 forces were able to demonstrate that every officer and staff member had a performance and development review (PDR) in the last 12 months. Thames Valley Police was praised for its work in this area, as its PDR system has been redesigned to prevent favouritism and ensure all candidates are treated fairly. The force’s assessors have also been trained to recognise and combat unconscious bias. Mr Parr stressed that frequent PDRs and other workforce appraisals are critical for helping forces understand how they will meet future needs. HMICFRS found that the majority of forces have poor measures in place for succession planning, and are not making development opportunities clear to officers. It recommends all members should have fair access to opportunities for development and progression, and forces need to be more open and transparent about their processes for selecting people for these initiatives. This would help the workforce see “it is fair and open for all”. “If you are not reviewing people and what skills they have, then it will be difficult to audit the skills and capabilities of the workforce,” said Mr Parr. “If you are not engaging with people about what they should be doing, they will not understand the promotion system and will not put themselves forward for vacancies. Their faith in the system will also be reduced.” Responding to the report, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners leadership lead Da

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