Part 3: Managing the New Zealand Police's work programme

Response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct: First monitoring report.

In this Part, we set out our findings about the steps the Police have taken to manage their work programme for responding to the Commission's recommendations. We examined how the Police have managed the work programme and the extent to which they have:

Effective governance and management of the Police's work programme is necessary to help ensure that the various initiatives in it are well planned, co-ordinated, and controlled. Without effective governance and management, there is potential for resources to be wasted and delays to arise from unaligned initiatives and practices.

Our overall findings

The Police have shown a strong and comprehensive commitment to addressing the recommendations made in the Commission's report. The Police have appropriate management and governance provisions in place.

The Police are now moving to a new phase in their work programme. In our view, this next phase needs to focus on behavioural and attitudinal changes – winning the “hearts and minds” of staff. The Police told us that this new phase will focus on supervisors and NCOs in Districts and Areas throughout the country.

Project and work programme arrangements

Overall, the Police have taken a structured approach to managing their work programme. This has included a considered approach to addressing overlaps and identifying interdependencies, both within the work programme and between the work programme and other Police work.

Governance of the work programme

Governance describes the means by which the work programme is kept aligned with the Police's strategic direction and how the main risks are controlled.

The Police assigned each of the Commission's recommendations to a sponsor, a business owner, and a recommendation owner. A programme manager oversees the programme of recommendations. Recommendation owners are responsible for implementing or addressing recommendations and for evaluating risks and issues. They report to business owners. Business owners identify and assess the recommendation risks and issues and report directly to the programme manager. The programme manager compiles information received from business owners into a monthly report for the recommendation sponsors. All recommendation sponsors are members of a steering committee.

The steering committee is a 12-member committee that consists of senior Police managers. The Commissioner of Police chairs the steering committee. The committee meets monthly to discuss the highest priority recommendations and any high-level risks (for example, if a recommendation is at risk of not being implemented).

Management of the work programme

After the Commission was set up in 2004, the Police started a range of initiatives related to issues raised by the Commission.1 The management of these initiatives was distributed between various sections within the Police.

In the early stages of the Police's response to the Commission's findings, the Police assigned the 48 recommendations relating to the Police (and responsibilities for implementing them) to the business units responsible for similar tasks. That is, if an existing Police programme was aimed at achieving a recommendation's objective, then the manager of that programme was made responsible for the recommendation.

The Police later hired a programme manager to address overlaps and identify interdependencies between the Police's responses to the Commission's recommendations and other Police work. The programme manger has, to a large extent, co-ordinated the oversight and implementation of the Police's responses.

The programme manager designed and implemented a technical project management application on the Police's intranet. This project management application and the steering committee have been the main mechanisms the Police have used to manage and govern the work programme. In Part 4, we discuss how the Police have used the project management application to record and report their progress in implementing the Commission's recommendations.

Overlaps and interdependencies

Under the project management approach to their work programme, the Police integrated initiatives described in Appendix 3 within the project and governance structure for responding to the Commission's recommendations.

For example, the Police were working on a Corporate Instrument Review project at the time of the Commission's report. They grouped the first four of the Commission's recommendations (related to Police policies and procedures) into a corporate instruments2 workstream. This brought the management of the corporate instruments project under the governance of the steering committee.

The programme manager organised a workshop for the recommendation owners to identify interdependencies among the 48 recommendations. This took place after the Police addressed overlaps between the recommendations and existing Police programmes.

After grouping recommendations by logical workstreams related to existing Police work, the recommendation owners reviewed each recommendation for other dependencies. Some recommendations were grouped if they depended on the same event to occur (for example, if they all relied on a particular policy or programme being in place).

Recommendations were then reviewed for time-dependency with other recommendations. That is, the programme manager assigned timeframes to the recommendations based on whether the Police needed to address them before, after, or at the same time as other recommendations.

The programme manager mapped dependencies in programme areas and timeframes. This formed the basis of the Police's project management system for the work programme.

Next phase in the work programme

The Police said that the biggest challenge to fully implementing the Commission's recommendations will be in achieving “buy-in” from staff outside of Police National Headquarters. This could be described as the challenge of encouraging attitudes and behaviours that lead to Police staff supporting the need for change, as well as the actual changes being made.

To address this challenge, the Police were, at the time of our audit fieldwork, planning a transition from the technical phase of their response to the Commission's recommendations to what the Police have called an “implementation phase”. This next phase is intended to support all staff to implement the Commission's recommendations. This includes staff in all Districts, Areas and business units, service centres, and Police National Headquarters.

As Police management move to the next phase of their work programme, it is important that they ensure that the work programme actively involves NCOs, Field Training Officers, and staff working directly with the public. NCOs have an important role within the Police because of their influence on Police culture, and because they supervise staff working directly with the public (including supervising Police recruits during their two-year in-service probationary period).

We were told that Police staff learn through experience, and that they are strongly influenced by the behaviours of others. We were also told that, in terms of change, a focus on staff working directly with the public is where you will get “the most bang for the buck”.

Interviewees made the following comments about the influence NCOs have:

  • “If you have good Sergeants, you will have good Constables.”
  • NCOs are like “your mum and dad”.
  • Senior Sergeants are the “grunt of providing change in an Area”.
  • NCOs are “absolutely essential to … cultural change”.
  • Sergeants and Senior Sergeants “run the Police”.
  • If you get a bad Senior Sergeant, it is “the beginning of the end” for staff.

We encourage the Police to ensure that the next phase of their work programme involves NCOs.

Working out the priority of the Commission's recommendations

The Police could have taken a more integrated approach to prioritising the Commission's recommendations in the context of the Police's overall work programme. The approach taken by the Police does not appear to have compromised the priority they have given to responding to the Commission's findings.

The Commission identified the risks that the workload of implementing the recommendations alongside the Police's other initiatives and projects may prove unmanageable, and that important initiatives arising from the Commission's report may not be prioritised.

The Police evaluated and prioritised the recommendations after identifying interdependencies between recommendations. They used 10 criteria to assess and prioritise each recommendation. Five of the criteria related to the importance of the recommendation.3 The other five criteria related to the complexity of the recommendation.4

After evaluating the recommendations against the criteria, each recommendation was given a score and the recommendations were sorted into three priority levels.5

Recommendation priority ratings can change over time, because their assessment against some of the criteria can vary. For example, the “assurance” recommendations (the Commission's recommendations R37, R51, R59, and R60) are at a higher priority level when a review by the SSC or the Office of the Auditor-General is under way.

As implemented by the Police, the prioritisation ratings for the recommendations are self-contained. That is, they are not influenced by the Police's National Business Plan priorities (except for being one of those priorities) or by other Police work. The Police's approach does not appear to have compromised the high priority they have given to responding to the Commission's findings.

The Police told us that their Executive Committee rated the priorities in the National Business Plan, including the work programme to address the Commission's recommendations, against service and capability risks. The Police believe this approach enabled them to give separate attention and high priority to the Commission's recommendations during the technical phase of the work programme. The Police also told us that they recommend taking a more integrated approach to prioritisation as part of the implementation phase of their work programme. According to the Police, this has already taken place for some recommendations that have moved into the implementation phase.

Resources allocated to responding to the Commission's recommendations

The Police have allocated considerable resources to responding to the Commission's recommendations, and managing their response to those recommendations.

The Police have set up a Commission of Inquiry Team (of two positions, including the programme manager), to oversee and support the management and governance arrangements. As well as these people, several senior managers have set aside dedicated time for the steering committee governance arrangements. The Police's externally provided Project Management Office has also been monitoring the work programme.

The Police do not have separate funding for responding to the Commission's recommendations. Rather, the Police's responses have been resourced from existing budgets.

Progress to date

The Police have assessed that they have completed a number of the projects from the technical phase. The Police consider that they completed their response to eight recommendations in 2007/086 and had completed their response to six more as at 31 March 2009.7

In Figures 5 and 6, we comment on the progress of some of the training and development, and human resources work that the Police have committed resources to as part of their work programme.

Figure 5
Training and development responses to the Commission's findings

Work performed to date
The Police have implemented training in leadership, ethical policing, and sexual assault investigation as part of their response to the Commission's findings.

The Police offer rank-specific leadership development training as part of a leadership development pilot project started in response to the Commission's report. This training is primarily for Senior Sergeants, Sergeants, and Constables. The Police also provide leadership training specifically for women.

By March 2009, the following numbers of staff had participated in these various leadership development programmes (LDPs):
  • Women's LDP – 293 staff;
  • Women's Senior Sergeant LDP – 27 staff;
  • Senior Sergeants LDP – 79 staff;
  • Sergeants LDP – 300 staff; and
  • Constables LDP – 120 staff.
A strong component of the Police's leadership training is the importance of ethical leadership. Since 2003, the Police have required all staff and supervisors to complete ethics training. By 20 April 2009, more than half (52%) of Police staff had received specific ethics training. The completion rate for the ethics training was highest among NCOs, with a lower completion rate among COs and supervisors.

The Police's new mandatory “Contemporary Policing in New Zealand” training programme also contains some ethics training, as well as covering the Code of Conduct and the Policing Act 2008. As at 20 April 2009, less than 20% of Police staff had completed this training. The Police told us that this had increased to 66% of staff as at 15 June 2009, and that they are closely monitoring the course completion rates.

The Police ran adult sexual assault investigators' courses in seven Districts in 2007/08, in five Districts in 2008/09, and at the Royal New Zealand Police College in both 2007/08 and 2008/09.
Our assessment
In our view, it is important that all Police staff receive training in leadership, ethical policing, and sexual assault investigation – where relevant to their roles – and that the Police continue to increase the number of staff who receive this training. We acknowledge that training the entire relevant workforce will take time and needs to be carefully scheduled so that it does not detract from the Police's delivery of services to the public.

Given the important influence that Sergeants and Senior Sergeants have on Police culture, we encourage the Police to continue offering leadership training to staff in these positions of influence.

The Police have performed a variety of work, as outlined in Figure 6, to prepare for, and then operate with, the performance management and disciplinary arrangements outlined in the Policing Act 2008. The Police's preparatory work has meant that they have been well positioned to give effect to the Act from its commencement in 2008.

Figure 6
Human resources policy and practice responses to the Commission's findings

The Commission described the Police's legislative framework for managing performance and discipline issues as “cumbersome, time-consuming, and outdated”, and identified the need for a “more sensible and efficient system”. The Police also characterised the framework as “rigid” and “overly prescriptive”. For example, costly and time-consuming disciplinary hearings were used to manage poor performing staff, while cases of the most serious misconduct were delayed in a statutory process.

At the time of the Commission's inquiry, the Police had begun to develop a less formal investigation process for lower-level performance or misconduct issues so a response could be provided in a timely manner. However, major reform needed legislative change. The Police were able to replace the old disciplinary and tribunal system with a modern approach to managing performance, based on the Code of Conduct, when the new Policing Act was passed in 2008.
Work performed to date
The Police introduced a single Code of Conduct for all staff on 1 February 2008, in response to the Commission's recommendations. (Before this date there was no Code of Conduct for staff with constabulary powers.) The Code of Conduct was enforceable on 1 October 2008 with the implementation of the Policing Act 2008.

By April 2009, nearly half of Police staff had completed the Code of Conduct familiarisation training. On average, throughout Districts and business units, 62.4% of Police staff have signed the Code of Conduct (56.9% of the Police staff with constabulary powers and 73.4% of Police staff without constabulary powers). It is important to note that the Policing Act 2008 makes the Code of Conduct a legislative duty for all Police staff to follow, regardless of whether they have signed it.

Since introducing the Code of Conduct, the Police have told us that there have been 36 cases where misconduct allegations were determined to be potentially serious (by 15 April 2009). The cases were distributed across Districts, service centres, and rank, with no apparent clustering of cases.

The Police have also increased their use of a performance appraisal process, but they recognise that they could improve further. The current process requires staff to complete a performance appraisal each year. Staff and their supervisors agree to the individual objectives to be met during the appraisal period. At the end of the appraisal period, staff members complete a self-review of their progress and achievements, and they discuss this with their supervisors. After this discussion, both the staff member and their supervisor sign the performance appraisal form.

Supervisors are expected to monitor staff performance during the appraisal period and discuss progress, to ensure that objectives for the appraisal period will be met. We were told that supervisors vary in the extent to which they use the performance appraisal process as a staff development tool.

Most Districts have completed performance appraisals in the past five years, but some service centres could do better. Since 2003/04, all but one District maintained an average performance appraisal completion rate above 90%. Most of the service centres had an average completion rate below 80% for the same period.
Our assessment
Completing performance appraisals is important for the effective performance management and professional development of staff. We encourage the Police to increase the completion rates. The completion rates need to be closer to 100%.
We note that adherence to the Code of Conduct is compulsory. We encourage the Police to increase the proportion of staff who have completed Code of Conduct training.

1: We describe these initiatives in Appendix 3.

2: Corporate instruments are the policies and procedures that the Police use to manage their business.

3: The five importance criteria were strategic alignment, public perception/expectation, benefits to confidence improvements, timeline constraints, and ensures adherence (that is, meeting compliance requirements).

4: The five complexity criteria were change magnitude, financial cost, dependency with a high-rated recommendation, risk to the Police if implementation is delayed, and the number of groups involved or affected.

5: Those recommendations that scored the highest against the criteria were categorised as Priority 1 recommendations. The Priority 1 recommendations receive the most attention from the steering committee.

6: This includes Recommendations R2, R4, R5, R33, R41, R42, R43, and R44.

7: This includes Recommendations R3, R7, R34, R35, R38, and R40.

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