The standard of leadership of Suffolk and Essex Police Forces has been praised in the latest report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies (HMIC) published today.
But Suffolk has been criticised for inconsistent assessment of staff abilities and the number and poor targeting of their internal announcement emails while Essex draws criticism for the fact that while it has set up a system for communicating its plans and policies, some staff complained of sending questions to the force’s change programme team and not receiving a reply.
The inspectors’ report says: “The leadership of Suffolk Constabulary’s chief officer team has made a positive difference despite undergoing significant change over the past 12 months.
“The team has provided a clear and developing sense of the constabulary’s future plans and priorities and promotes a culture of cohesion, honesty and openness.
“The constabulary has set out clear expectations of its staff which are understood across the organisation and has taken some positive steps to develop talent.”
It says the force is undergoing ‘much change’ in the way it assesses staff skills and says its leaders know what is expected of them thanks to good communication from the chief officers.
Though the force has recently changed its focus, the inspectors say it has communicated this well to its employees.
But it continues: “Suffolk Constabulary manages workforce performance inconsistently.
“The constabulary assesses an individual’s performance through an annual performance review, however the completion of an effective and meaningful review appears dependent on the individual’s line manager.”
Suffolk Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: “I am extremely pleased that inspectors have recognised the absolute commitment that our senior leaders have towards providing clear and positive direction for our workforce.
“Listening to our staff and developing our leaders is crucial in helping us shape the future of the Constabulary. We have a fantastic workforce who are proud to a deliver high quality policing every day, and part of this work stems from the team ethos within the organisation, enabled by effective leadership.
“Our overall positive grading throughout the inspections is a reflection of the hard work across the organisation to provide the best possible service to our communities.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “This is a thoroughly fair assessment of the Constabulary’s effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy and I congratulate Gareth and his team on this very positive report.”
The HMIC report on Essex begins: “Essex Police is a well led force. It understands what is expected of leaders at every level and communicates this across the organisation. The chief officer team has a clear and realistic sense of the force’s priorities, though the force could take further action to ensure that its workforce fully understands this.
“The force has begun a programme to invest in the leadership development of the workforce, and has updated its annual performance review process, but work is still required for the whole workforce to be fully involved in and supportive of the process.”
The report continues: “Essex Police has a good understanding of what is required of leaders at every level and has communicated this across the organisation. The chief constable is recognised as the inspiration behind the clear messaging, and officers and staff describe him as having made a very positive impact on the force.”
Like Suffolk, it is criticised fpor inadequacies in its staff’s annual performance reviews.
The report says: “While staff and officers recognise that without a completed annual performance review they will not be considered for promotion, they do not generally understand how to set their personal objectives in line with the force’s expectations.
“As such, the force should continue to develop its performance management system so that the whole workforce recognises it as an essential tool for their development.”