Police Scotland criticised over ‘lack of leadership training’

Report by HMCIS says police leaders 'lack emotional intelligence, self-awareness and strategic perspective'

Priorities set out by Police Scotland’s chief constable were done so “without the means or resources to deliver them”, a watchdog has found.

Leadership training was also criticised in the report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), which had been halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phase one findings of the Thematic Inspection of Police Scotland Training and Development inspection were published on Tuesday.

The report criticised “a lack of consistent leadership in leadership, training and development (LTD)” during the first five years of Police Scotland.

Officers and staff promoted since the force was established in 2013 “have received no leadership training or development since their attendance on a first line managers’ course”, it said.

The inspection also highlighted consequences of the lack of leadership training, saying: “Senior people in partner agencies observed that police leaders are generally very effective in command roles responding to critical incidents but lack emotional intelligence, self-awareness and strategic perspective.”

The report added: “Training and development staff were unaware of any key performance indicators for their work other than demand and throughput information, with most expecting their own performance to be judged on whether delivery timescales have been met.

“Given the extent of transformation work being progressed by Police Scotland and the importance of effective leadership to deliver change, HMICS considers that Police Scotland should review the level of resources devoted to leadership training.”

Among the other recommendations were the creation of a robust performance framework for LTD.

Further recommendations included assessing the impact of the chief constable’s commitments and ensuring senior officers are “provided training beyond technical training for specific roles as a matter of urgency”.

Gill Imery, chief inspector of constabulary in Scotland, said: “Since the formation of Police Scotland in 2013, there has been no programme of leadership training and development other than the first line managers’ course.

“There have been various approaches to appraisal and promotion over the past seven years and Police Scotland is now progressing new … approaches to deliver improvements.

“Police Scotland’s People Strategy includes commitments to supporting and developing leaders, however, the resource devoted to leadership training, talent management and continuous professional development is modest.”

She added: “The evidence gathered during this inspection highlights the need for renewed focus and investment in the training and development of officers and staff.

“It highlights the need to allocate sufficient resources to the development and implementation of new approaches to appraisal and promotion, in support of the People Strategy.”

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Police Scotland is a learning organisation and we reflect on all observations made by partners to understand how we can better serve the communities of Scotland.

“What I see every day are highly able and skilled leaders who inspire and enable our officers and staff to help the vulnerable and keep people safe.

“Our chief superintendent candidates consistently perform strongly at the College of Policing’s Senior Police National Assessment Centre, the selection process for prospective chief officers across the United Kingdom.”

She added: “Senior PNAC assesses emotional awareness, collaboration and critical analysis, among other competencies, in order to test strategic ability.

“Within Police Scotland, a new process to support continuous development and promotion based on the behaviours, values, operational knowledge and leadership required of officers and staff has been established.

“The wellbeing of our officers and staff is and remains a priority and we have a wide range of support mechanisms in place.”

Ms Taylor also said an engagement and wellbeing survey was due to be carried out this year but has been delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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