Part 4: Managing organisational change

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

Ideally, all members of the Police would support the changes recommended by the Commission because of the resulting improvements for the public and the benefits for the Police. In our previous work, we found that this was not the case.

Improving support for change within the Police requires changing aspects of the organisation's culture, and strong leadership.

We expected that the Police would support a culture of improvement and integrity by:

  • building on the high degree of commitment to change at senior levels, and ensuring that all staff understand and support the need for change;
  • valuing and learning from the views of people external to the Police; and
  • tracking and evaluating the changes they are making.

Elements of good progress for organisational change since 2010

The Police value and learn from the views of external people. The Police primarily gain external feedback through an annual citizen satisfaction survey and through a variety of relationships established with external agencies at the district level. Over time, the citizen survey shows a general improvement in satisfaction.

There are examples of excellent individual change leadership, use of annual workforce survey results, and targeted development programmes to guide change within the Police. The level of staff engagement shown in surveys is increasing over time.

However, there is still a level of inappropriate behaviour, harassment, and slow change in the gender and ethnic diversity of the Police that suggests significant leadership challenges still exist. Ethnic minorities within the Police have a higher rate than average of witnessing or experiencing inappropriate behaviour, and women in the Police are less comfortable than men in raising concerns about police behaviour.

The Police are implementing a national automated early intervention system. The idea of the system is that it is preventative rather than punitive. It alerts the Police to behaviours that are outside the norm and that are recognised internally as potentially leading to more serious inappropriate behaviours. This enables the first step to be supportive interventions and discussions with staff members rather than disciplinary processes.

The early intervention system, when first operating, will not be able to be used to capture community feedback information. The Police have told us that this information will be added to the system once the system is "implemented and processes to capture the information are established".

Since September 2011, the Police have adopted a new model for reporting on their progress against the Commission's recommendations to Ministers and the public. The approach involves assessing the Commission's recommendations as completed only when the solutions to that recommendation are embedded and continuing to produce the desired effect. This is an improvement on the Police's previous monitoring of their progress.

As can be expected, staff support for changes recommended by the Commission depends on whether staff perceive those changes as positively affecting their individual jobs. The changes may not be perceived as being related to the Commission's recommendations. In our view, this does not matter.

Details of the elements of good progress for organisational change

Leading change

Effective leadership that helps staff to understand and support the need for change is essential for effective change. An engaged and more diverse workforce that better reflects the composition of the community being policed is also important. These are within the influence of police management.

Leading improvements to the Police's working environment and culture

During our fieldwork, we saw some excellent examples of individual leadership and activities aimed at improving the work environment through positive change. These included activities to tackle alcohol issues, provide transparency in the appointment process, and tackle bullies. Examples included:

  • introducing a new alcohol policy in the Bay of Plenty; and
  • an Area Commander changing the appointment process in a district to improve transparency and address the "old boys' network" mentality.

Effort was also going into leading and managing staff, particularly in establishing expectations for Sergeants and Senior Sergeants to take ownership and responsibility for their roles, actions, teams, and duties. The examples we observed in one district included:

  • a two-day district-level leadership programme for Senior Sergeants on human resource matters and people management;
  • the District Commander meeting with new Sergeants where it is spelt out that they are leaders and not "one of the boys";
  • the District Commander holding informal monthly coffee meetings with different groups of Sergeants to discuss complaints, concerns, and expectations; and
  • the District Commander being directly involved in Senior Sergeant appointments to set the right expectations.

This leadership work was not specifically labelled as work relating to the Commission's recommendations. As the District Commander told us:

What the COI is really about is professionalism and how we do business day to day. It can't be seen as a separate project, but must be embedded into everything we do … to be sustained.

An Area Commander indicated that work in responding to the Commission was being progressed through work on values and behaviours. This included work on Service First, restructuring, self-assessment, satisfaction surveys, professional standards, and the Code of Conduct.

Several illustrations of positive changes to the working environment were mentioned to us during our fieldwork. These included:

  • a female staff member being able to talk to a group of male colleagues at the social club and telling them to stop teasing someone about his sexual preferences;
  • a manager reporting that people are more willing to challenge and question practices and situations;
  • staff members reporting a greater focus on communities and victims;
  • a staff member dealing with the public noting a changed focus, with the Police moving to providing service to the public and caring about their needs;
  • a staff member reporting that increased use of cell phones and the fear of being photographed by cell phone users has seen "fewer tickle ups [use of unnecessary physical force] at the end of the chase";
  • an Area Commander reporting that attitudes to alcohol had changed a lot in the last four to five years, that the organisation has had to become a responsible host, and that it has "grown up" a lot;
  • a welfare officer reporting that there seem to be fewer referrals for alcohol problems;
  • a staff member reporting that Police social functions have become more family-oriented and less focused around alcohol; and
  • a staff member reporting changes in leadership and staff relationships in the Police – from a quasi-military style to a more corporate model.

Still room for some staff to understand and support change

Despite examples of courageous leadership in action, there is still a level of sexual harassment (see paragraphs 5.29-5.32), some unwillingness to report wrongdoing by colleagues (see paragraphs 2.17-2.22), and sexually inappropriate behaviour (see paragraphs 5.19-5.32) occurring within the Police.

These behaviours present significant leadership challenges. They also indicate that there is still room for some individual police officers to better understand the benefits to them and the public of effectively implementing the Commission's recommendations.

Organisational engagement is improving

The Police are successfully using the annual workforce survey to improve their organisation. As the 2012 survey report states:

There can be no question that NZ Police represents an organisation successfully utilising survey results to drive significant improvements in workplace management, and is enjoying increased employee engagement levels as a consequence. From a position of being below State Sector norms in 2010 to now being ahead of the sector … there is a clear indication that the use of the survey is both deliberate and widespread ... Indeed engagement levels within NZ Police are now almost the same as those seen in New Zealand's major employer of choice survey ... This is an enviable achievement for an organisation that was once performing significantly below the State Sector benchmark.9

The rationale for having an engaged10 workforce was described to us by one manager as "Look after cops and cops will look after crime for you".

The measured engagement of police staff is improving. The 2010, 2011, and 2012 workforce surveys show that the number of engaged staff increased significantly from 17.8% to 21.3% to 27.8% respectively. The number of disengaged staff decreased significantly from 17.8% to 15.5% to 12.5% respectively. In the 2012 survey, the proportion of disengaged staff in the Police was significantly lower than in other state sector agencies.11

Despite these improvements, the levels of engaged staff are still low in absolute terms.

Ultimately, individual staff engagement with Commission-related changes depends on whether those changes are perceived to positively affect their individual jobs.

Slow increase in the number of women

The Commission recommended that the number of women, and people from ethnic minority groups employed by the Police increase over time.

The number of women in the Police has increased, but progress has been slow compared with Australian police forces' efforts to increase the number of women in their forces.

There are more men than women in the Police, particularly in higher ranks. Police figures show that the percentage of women working for the Police has increased from 14.9% to 17.6% since 2001. Almost all of the increase has been in frontline staff.

The policing expert we sought advice from told us that research suggests, in a United Kingdom context, that 17.6% women is below the levels where women could have a major effect on the attitudes and culture of the Police. We encourage the Police to benchmark themselves against the United Kingdom Home Office's policing Gender Agenda work and against any other relevant international comparisons.

There are more women in younger age brackets. Women make up about 20% of the workforce until the 40- to 45-year age bracket. After this, the percentage of women in each age bracket decreases.

There are fewer women in the higher ranks than men. The ratio of female to male Sergeants, Senior Sergeants, and Inspectors is nearly half that of the ratio for female to male constables. The increases in the number of women in the Police have not yet been reflected in the higher ranks.

The 2010, 2011, and 2012 workforce surveys show that women are slightly more engaged then men and are more satisfied with their jobs. However, they are less satisfied than men with their and their team's management (for example, performance management and supervision, and development opportunities).

The Police Executive Committee has identified the need for more senior women in the Police, and we observed a number of initiatives aimed at supporting women to be better placed in merit-based promotion to senior levels.

A national development board oversees the selection of staff for high-value, high-cost development opportunities. The board also considers issues with recruiting and retaining women and ethnic minorities.

We observed a number of initiatives targeting women. These include:

  • two women's development courses;
  • a women's Senior Sergeant leadership programme that most senior female staff have completed;
  • an alumnae network for graduates of women's development programmes, including women on interview panels;
  • a district-level mentoring programme in Northland;
  • a report that recommends increasing the number of female recruits; and
  • a district-level women's development day in the Bay of Plenty.

Police monitoring shows that, since 2003, female staff who have completed a development programme are five times more likely to be promoted than those who have not. However, this does not yet seem to be resulting in greater numbers of women in higher ranks.

Women we spoke to during fieldwork reported receiving equal opportunities in the Police – although they said they might have to prove themselves a bit more initially.

Despite the increasing number of women within the Police, women having high levels of engagement, and targeted development for women, workforce surveys showed that women scored lower than men on questions about respect and integrity within the Police. Women were also generally less likely than men to report that their workgroup respected employee diversity and were less comfortable raising concerns or reporting harassment, bullying, or discrimination.

Ethnic minorities are highly engaged

The ethnic composition of the Police has remained relatively consistent since 2008, with very small increases in the proportions of Asian and Pacific peoples since then. In 2012, 10.9% of the Police identified as Māori, 5.0% identified as Pacific peoples, and 2.4% identified as Asian.

The Police have sought advice from an advertising agency on how they can increase the numbers of ethnic minority groups joining the Police.

The 2011 and 2012 workforce surveys showed that Māori, and especially Pacific, staff were more engaged than other groups in the Police. Ethnic minorities generally reported greater satisfaction across all survey elements than other staff. Despite this, they also reported a higher rate of witnessing or experiencing inappropriate workplace behaviour by their colleagues in the last year.


We saw evidence of work to support ethnic minorities within the Police, including:

  • an annual diversity forum;
  • a district-led initiative to provide support mechanisms for ethnic groups within the Police in Auckland; and
  • a report on increasing the diversity of recruits.

The Police's Ten One newsletter12 has contained positive stories about women and about ethnic communities.

Valuing and learning from the views of external people

Lifting public trust and confidence is a theme guiding the Police's work. The Police's leadership has continued to acknowledge that embedding changes from the Commission's recommendations is important to the Police successfully achieving their outcome of confident, safe, and secure communities.

Citizen satisfaction survey

The Commissioner of Police has identified the Police's citizen satisfaction survey as an important tool for identifying how the Police can improve what they do.

Each year, the Police survey the level of trust and confidence in the Police and public satisfaction with their services. In paragraphs 3.41-3.45, we reported on the findings from this survey about the experiences of people who have had contact with the Police because of assault. This showed that people's positive experiences with the Police were consistent over time, but also that some assault respondents continued to have more negative experiences than other respondents.

The main influence on satisfaction is whether the respondent got what they needed from the Police in the end. Being treated fairly, staff being competent, individual circumstances being taken into account, and the degree to which the service received matched expectations are also important factors. The Police's behaviour and attitude were the most common reasons for dissatisfaction with the Police.

The Police have publicised the positive results from the satisfaction survey among their staff. They relate these results to the Police's service improvement work.

During the three years the current survey has been administered (2008/09-2010/11), there have been statistically significant increases in positive feedback between at least two of the years in:

  • trust and confidence;
  • safety in the neighbourhood during the day;
  • safety in the neighbourhood after dark;
  • safety in the town or city after dark; and
  • the Police's responsiveness to the needs of the respondent's community.

Similarly, during these three years, there have been statistically significant increases in client satisfaction between at least two of the years in:

  • overall satisfaction;
  • staff doing what they said they would;
  • the respondent's individual circumstances being taken into account; and
  • the service delivered being an example of good value for tax dollars spent.

The increase in the proportion of people responding as having full trust and confidence in the Police, or who were satisfied or very satisfied with the overall quality of the service delivered, was statistically significant during the period. In 2010/11, women had a higher level of full, or quite a lot of, trust and confidence in the Police than men (78% compared with 76%).

Although the citizen satisfaction survey results are mixed and complex, they have generally improved during the three years that the current survey has been used.

Service First initiative

Service First is the Police's service improvement programme. At the time of our fieldwork, the programme was in its fifth year of implementation:

The project's goals are to provide citizen-centred policing services that meet or exceed citizens' expectation, improve citizens' satisfaction with policing services and to make every contact count towards greater trust and confidence in the Police.

The initiative is based around six drivers of satisfaction:

  • the service met your expectations;
  • staff were competent;
  • you were treated fairly;
  • staff kept their promises;
  • your individual circumstances were taken into account; and
  • it is an example of good value for tax dollars spent.

At the time of our fieldwork, the Police had developed guidelines for interactions at public counters in police stations, and standards for public counter, communications centre, and operational interactions with the public. Police districts are expected to have a programme to monitor the standards for interactions at public counters on an ongoing basis.

Responsibility for ongoing implementation of the public counter part of the programme will not be "handed over" to a district until this monitoring programme is in place. The monitoring programme should provide information on the public's satisfaction with the Police's services and facilities.

In one of the districts we visited, the public counter standards had been assessed in 10 police stations. The assessment identified five of those stations as needing to improve their monitoring of the programme.

The progress of the Service First programme as a whole is subject to monitoring. The Service First initiative should help the Police to better use client feedback, including complaint information.

Community feedback

The Police's leadership has been promoting the message that trends in public confidence are directly linked to police initiatives to communicate with the community.

The Police use a variety of mechanisms for seeking feedback from the communities they work in. Neither of the two districts we visited referred to the Police's community feedback model that we described in our second report. However, examples of feedback mechanisms that we saw documentary evidence of, or were told about, and that vary widely across districts included:

  • liaison with iwi through an iwi liaison officer;
  • liaison with Pacific peoples through liaison officers and advisory boards;
  • liaison with Asian people through liaison officers;
  • engagement with communities through Neighbourhood Policing Teams (these are being rolled out as part of the Police's separate Prevention First strategy);
  • social media;
  • a conference with Māori and community leaders;
  • mayoral forums;
  • relationships with community groups;
  • community networks involving other government agencies working in the social development, health, and education spheres;
  • relationships with external agencies working with Māori, Pacific peoples, and other ethnic groups; and
  • the Police Executive Committee's interactions with the public.

In their 2011 annual report, the Police reported that "research was started to refresh and refocus the way Police surveys partner satisfaction". Understanding partner organisation satisfaction is important, given that these relationships are integral to delivering some services, such as SAATS (see paragraph 3.31), to the public.

The Police could also gain external views by involving external people in the Police's training and ethics committees. In one of the districts we visited, there were no external members on its ethics committee. We were told that, generally, those committees have few external members. However, there is extensive involvement of external presenters in a number of courses at the Royal New Zealand Police College, including in the adult sexual assault investigation training. Advice from our independent policing expert reinforced the importance of involving external people in training police officers.

Incorporating feedback into an early intervention system

The Commission expected that the Police would, where relevant, incorporate community comment and feedback on police service delivery and policing issues into the Police's early intervention system. As we said in our 2010 report:

The Police told us that their preference is for information from the community to go through a formal complaints process rather than be directly incorporated into the early warning system.

More recently, the Police have told us that the early intervention system, when first operating, will not be able to be used to record community feedback information. The Police have advised us that this information will be added to the system once the system is "implemented and processes to capture the information are established".

Tracking and evaluating change

Planning for change

Each of the Police's districts and service centres has had the opportunity to identify their responses to the Commission's recommendations as part of their business plans for 2010/11. Some have very specific commitments. Others have none at all. For example, four districts had no or little commitment to responding to the Commission, while another four districts had extensive commitments.

The Police's collective progress against each recommendation is the sum of the relevant activities performed throughout these districts and service centres. The Police's business owner for a specific recommendation (usually a third-tier manager) is responsible for supporting and tracking the necessary progress. This approach was described to us as a "satellite supervision" model.

Report progress is co-ordinated by a Commission of Inquiry team and then assessed by a steering committee and reported to the Police executive. The steering committee is different from the steering committee that was in place at the time of our previous work. The original steering committee was disestablished as part of the Police's 2009 Transition Plan to move implementation of the Commission's recommendations to business as usual.

The Police have identified that the Transition Plan resulted in a lack of co-ordination and oversight of the entire programme of work, and consequently a loss of momentum. The mixed results we report in this third report support this assessment.

Reporting progress

The Police are required to continue reporting quarterly until 2017 to joint Ministers (of Police, Justice, and State Services) on the progress they are making on the Commission's recommendations. Over time, the Police expect this reporting to focus more on the outcomes being achieved. The Commissioner of Police has previously identified reporting of the Police's progress with the Commission's recommendations as an important issue.

Since our second report (June 2010), the Police have adopted a new model for reporting to Ministers about their progress on giving effect to the Commission's recommendations. The Police have used this approach since September 2011. These reports have been made publicly available on the Police's website.

The new approach involves assessing the Commission's recommendations as having been completed only when the solutions to that recommendation are embedded and continuing to produce the desired effect. Producing solutions alone is not enough. We applaud the Police for taking this approach and encourage them to continue with it, given that the approach is about sustainable improvement and not just a one-off action. We were told that this approach has been a challenge for some sections of the Police.

The Police's adoption of this approach is in contrast to the reporting of progress we observed in our earlier work. In 2009, the Police reported that they had completed 32 of the Commission's recommendations. At that time, we assessed that they had completed seven of the recommendations.

Appendix 1 summarises the progress reported by the Police and us against each of the Commission's recommendations. This includes information on the Police's reporting of progress in their 2010/11 annual report. The information illustrates significant changes in the Police's thinking about the progress they are making.

Appendix 2 summarises the Police's progress against the recommendations we made in our first two reports and in this report.

Assessing progress

The Police have a variety of survey information available to help inform their assessments of changes within the Police. This includes the Police's citizen satisfaction survey, staff workforce survey, the state sector conduct and integrity survey, and staff exit interviews.

We are aware that not all of the Police's staff fully support the workforce survey. In our experience, this is not a situation unique to the Police. Some of the reasons we were given to explain the lack of support included:

  • feedback that problems identified by staff were perceptions and not real;
  • questions being perceived as not relevant to being a police officer and not resulting in change;
  • identification of results at workgroup level being perceived not to protect individual anonymity; and
  • staff being teased, by staff from other sections, for their section's high engagement scores.

9: Kenexa | JRA (2012), NZ Police Workforce Survey 2012: Report of Findings, page 9.

10: Employee engagement' refers to the level of connectedness an employee feels towards his or her organisation and the willingness to maximise his or her performance and discretionary effort as a result of that connectedness. (Source: Kenexa | JRA (2012), NZ Police Workforce Survey 2012: Report of Findings, page 3).

11: References to the state sector and state sector agencies and organisations refer to the Kenexa | JRA State Sector Benchmark group. This is a group of 29 public entities that have conducted their workplace or employee survey with Kenexa | JRA within the last two years. The list of agencies is available at the end of the 2012 workforce survey results, which are available on the Police's website (

12: Ten One is a newsletter about the Police's work and developments in policing. It is available on the Police's website.

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