Skills gap threatens to leave tomorrow’s police forces short

Police forces lack sufficiently deep understanding of the skills and capabilities of their workforce, risking their ability to meet future demands, according to a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

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PEEL: police leadership 2017 – a national overview

The Police Leadership 2017 report shows that few police forces have adequate succession plans in place. Faced with increasingly complex crime and fast-changing demands, too many forces are taking a short-term and reactive approach to address future needs.

However, the report notes numerous positive examples of police leaders showing commitment to improvement. Senior teams consistently demonstrated an understanding of the need for fair and ethical treatment of their workforces and to the public. Inspectors also found that there has been an increasing prioritisation of wellbeing within the workforce.

Her Majesty’s Inspector Matt Parr, who led the inspection, said:

“The findings from this report are largely positive, and show that the majority of forces are working to establish a culture that supports and cares for officers and staff. By and large, the police service continues to promote feedback and challenge from officers and staff. We see this as an indication of an environment that is increasingly more open to new ways of working.

“We are also pleased to see that leaders are implementing measures to better serve the needs of vulnerable people. However, while forces are making progress in this area, there is still more to do. Some forces have not adequately identified the scale of vulnerability in their local communities, resulting in vulnerable people being less well served.

“In many cases, selection processes for future leaders are not perceived as fair by the workforce. Talent is not managed properly, and not all members of the workforce have fair access to development and progression. All of this needs to be underpinned by better performance management of the workforce at all levels. A deeper understanding of the skills and capabilities required for modern policing will enable forces to identify and develop the right leaders.”

The report notes that the processes and systems that underpin ethical decision-making have strengthened and matured since last year’s report. When ethical problems do arise, higher-performing forces show that they communicate the lessons learned throughout their team.

The report concludes that polices forces need to:

  • improve their use of performance management;
  • build on their understanding of leadership skills and capabilities within their workforces; and
  • continue to look for new skills externally.

Such measures could help forces meet the difficulties of modern policing more efficiently and effectively.
HMICFRS will return to forces to examine police leadership next year. Areas that have been identified as requiring improvement will be revisited in order to assess progress.

Get the report

PEEL: police leadership 2017 – a national overview


  1. The Leadership report examines the degree to which leadership is understood within policing, how forces work to develop leadership, and how well leadership is displayed by a force. Leadership is inspected at all ranks and grades.
  2. Forces have not been graded separately for leadership, as the relevant evidence gathered has formed part of the graded judgements for other HMICFRS PEEL inspections.
  3. On 19 July 2017, HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
  4. HMICFRS is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing and fire & rescue services in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and fire & rescue services.
  5. HMICFRS inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies. It also inspects all 45 fire & rescue services in England.
  6. For further information, HMICFRS’ press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  7. HMICFRS’ out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.