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Cambridgeshire PEEL 2016

Other inspections

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.


Last updated 08/12/2016

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.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has worked effectively with its workforce to refresh and redefine what it expects from its leaders, promoting a leadership style that trusts officers and staff to make decisions. This has continued under its new chief officer team. The force has taken the decision to move to a ‘trust and check’ approach; encouraging a more inclusive style of management. This display of trust emphasises the force’s leadership expectations. This encourages officers and staff to challenge senior leaders and to feel comfortable in doing so. The new chief officer team is working hard to ensure that officers and staff have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in terms of the refreshed leadership expectations.

The force uses a broad range of techniques to develop leadership skills, although it could perhaps do more to understand the skills, experience and background of its workforce, including implementing a formal management process to identify and develop talented officers and staff. The force has a strong focus on increasing the diversity of its leadership team, with positive results. The force would benefit from reviewing and evaluating this work regularly.

We found that the force is highly innovative and has a culture of working with academia. This is particularly evident in how it develops its information and communications technology, and in research commissioned from Cambridge University. Officers and staff are able to make suggestions and influence positive change throughout the force, the strategic alliance (a collaboration between Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary) and nationally. We found that the force evaluates some of its programmes, projects and initiatives well and makes this learning available to others.

Questions for Leadership


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 work closely with their workforces when setting out what it expects from its leaders is vital in ensuring that police staff and officers feel enabled to lead in an ethical way and to challenge the force’s leadership 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.

For some years, Cambridgeshire Constabulary has promoted a leadership style that trusts officers and staff to make decisions and this has continued under its new chief officer team. The recent addition of ‘trust and check’ to encourage a more inclusive style of management has made the force’s leadership expectations even clearer at every level of the organisation. We found that officers and staff are involved in leadership decision making and feel confident enough to challenge any decisions made.

Frontline staff have a lower awareness of what is expected from them as leaders. The force could do more to ensure that front line supervisors communicate messages about leadership effectively, so that all staff understand what is expected of them.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary uses a broad range of management techniques to understand the relative strengths of its leadership, including personality profiling and 360-degree feedback assessments. We found a force-wide commitment to ensuring that performance development reviews are up to date, relevant to each individual, and reflect the force’s leadership expectations. Although the force understands and responds positively to gaps in its leadership capability at a local level, it does not record them in a consistent way. Doing so would allow for a clear assessment across different ranks, grades, and roles and across teams, departments, and units.

A more sophisticated appraisal of workforce skills, capability and capacity is also being developed for departments that collaborate with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary, although this is currently more focused on skills and training gaps.

Areas for improvement

  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary, as part of the strategic alliance of three forces, needs to develop a clear understanding of its leadership capabilities across the workforce at all levels. This will provide the force and the alliance with a clear understanding of which areas of work to develop excellent leaders needs to be prioritised.


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 leaders.

Forces’ knowledge of their current leadership capability should also mean that they are aware of the leadership skills and experience they do not possess currently, and are seeking to recruit officers and staff to address this gap.

While we found some positive examples of leadership development, the force had no formal process for identifying future leaders, and is still developing its system for identifying and managing talented officers and staff. While there remains no formal process in place, the force may not be able to identify the most talented individuals to lead it in the future. The recent merger of training and HR functions provides an opportunity to identify what this process should look like across the force and within the strategic alliance with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary.

We note that Peterborough district had a high success rate in recent promotion rounds, which may be due to the support it offers to candidates, including study groups and mock boards. While this is positive, the force should ensure that all officers and staff, including those in the joint units, are able to access support for development and promotion.

The force has used recruitment to enhance its leadership capabilities, and has two direct entrants on the inspector programme. Although it has run a fast-track superintendent programme, none of the candidates was successful. The force has signed up to ‘Police Now’, a graduate leadership development programme originally led by the Metropolitan Police, which has received a positive response.

Areas for improvement

  • Cambridgeshire Constabulary should introduce a system for identifying and managing talented officers and staff in a consistent way across the workforce.


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.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has a strong culture of innovation, particularly in the area of information communication technology (ICT) and the development of remote working. The force has evaluated some of this approach in Cambridgeshire, and it is now being reviewed across the strategic alliance.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary has strong links with local academic institutions. It has commissioned local universities to conduct research and to evaluate the adoption of new processes and technology, for example a new policing model in Peterborough, and the use of body-worn video cameras. Also, the force is keen to learn from other organisations and participates in workshops with the emergency services and local authorities to develop the planning capability of the strategic alliance.

Innovation is at the heart of the force’s long-term change programme of collaborative working with Bedfordshire Police and Hertfordshire Constabulary. A guiding philosophy for this programme is to identify ‘what works’ in each force or elsewhere, and to adopt those methods within the joint functions.

It is worth noting that the strategic alliance is in itself, an ambitious and innovative project that constitutes one of the most extensive examples of collaborative working between any police forces in England and Wales.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary is conscious of the need to reflect local communities in its workforce. It has increased female representation in its more senior ranks, and recently appointed a chief officer of Asian origin – one of only three Asian officers in the UK with the rank of assistant chief constable. The force’s version of ‘Police Now’ has attracted equal numbers of applications from men and women, with 20 percent of applications from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates.

The chief officer team also recognises that wider expertise, experience and skills and more diverse backgrounds can be used to balance teams and make them more effective. The force has undertaken some assessment of its senior leadership teams, and we found examples of local senior management rebalancing its teams by moving officers and staff. However, it currently has no systematic process for reviewing and evaluating the diversity of its leadership teams on a regular basis.