‘Critically review the extent to which, in the context of a police or security organisation, the application of performance management (PM) has transformed organisational performance and effective service delivery. Is PM a help or hindrance in the delivery of quality service in the context of reduced resources?’
This question requires the term ‘Performance Management (PM)’ to be defined and discussed within either a police or private security organisation and to conclude whether or not it aids or hinders the delivery of the required service. This report will be written utilising the Home Office Police forces and more importantly The Police and Magistrates Act 1994 which represented a significant milestone in the reform of the governance arrangements for the Police Forces of England and Wales. This act also ended the direct control of policing by local government and established a new Police Authority. This then moved a newer reform in 2002 with the introduction of the Police Reform Act 2002, which empowered the Home Secretary to set annual policing objectives that Chief Constables were charged with delivering. The development of PM within the UK Police Service has been predominately focussed on the use of centralised control mechanisms by the Home Office.
During the 1980’s public service reform was under the opinion that many traditional bureaucratic public institutions were unwieldy and anachronistic, characterised by inefficiency and limited accountability. “By any standard, performance management in the traditional model of administration was inadequate’, and ‘…measures which did exist were ad hoc and far from systematic’ (Hughes 2003, p157). It was therefore perhaps inevitable that a new approach was destined to evolve.
Performance Management involves performance measurement through the use of metrics that indicate the relative performance, the interpretation of such information is then utilised to create an understanding of the meaning, and the use of that information is used to guide decision making about changes required to better deliver the organisations aims or strategy. The reasoning behind the introduction of PM is the increasingly challenge to the economic climate and financial restraints being felt by the Government. This has meant that forces are required to demonstrate a value for money that policing provides.
“In England and Wales policing has had a symbolic significance, and it is legitimate to raise concerns about the relentless drive for performance and targets. It is as yet too early to have clear pictures of the effect that the performance culture will have on the relationship between the police and the public, or what the knock on effect will be on crime and crime detection” (Wilson et al 2001:43).
Van Maanen states “the police are quite possibly the most vital of our human service agencies. Certainly they are quite possibly the most visible and active institutions of social control, representing the technological and organisational answer to the Hobbesian question of social order, the dues ex machine. Through their exclusive mandate to intervene directly in the lives of the citizenry the police are crucial actors in both our everyday and ceremonial affairs, and, as such, deserve intensive and continual study for their role and function in society so far too important to be taken for granted or, worse ignored” (Van Maanen 1974:82).
The introduction of PM as part of central government’s attempts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing occurred gradually from the 1990’s onwards and this was down to the publication of various reports the results of various inquires and the scrutiny of academia. The first of the inquires that forced some of the changes was The Sheehey Inquiry (1993) that recommended the introduction of performance management techniques linked to performance related pay and a de-layering of the ranks within the organisation to facilitate a greater flexibility and innovation at the operational level where the organisation interacted with its environment. The Posen Inquiry (1994) that highlighted the services provided by the police with a major view to privatisation. Then along came the White Paper (CM2281, 1993) that examined the role of the Police Authorities and upon conclusion it stated that the governance arrangements resulted in the “entanglement of responsibilities that leads to uncertain lines of accountability” (HMSO 1993b). It is noteworthy that these aspects that were adapted by the police spilled over into private security companies because many of the employees were ex-police officers. Due to all of these reforms and their findings new terminology was introduced ‘New Public Management’ (NPM); this rightly or wrongly transferred the power of management from the public sector to the private sector. This NPM demanded the enhancement of accountability, combined with a political desire to make the public sector more ‘business-like’, that resulted in the introduction of the concept of citizens as ‘customers’ with an increased focus on competition and performance outputs (McLaughlin et al., 2001).
The processes and dynamics of change in the functioning, structure and work force of organisations is a well-documented subject from Basil & Cook (1974) and more recently Moss-Kanter (1989), Senge (1991) and Pedler et al (1991). They have all stated their own opinions in the arena of the process and dynamics of change in the functioning, structure and work force of organisations. However, it is worthy to note that all comments are from their own personal perspectives.
Young stated “there is still a need for social enquiry to break through defensive structures and reveal how practices such as the sleight of hand described have been varied, revised and handed on for new generations. The praxis which the police have developed in reconciling their claim to follow the rule of law with the pragmatic necessities of ‘doing the business’ must still be questioned, for they are structurally a potentially authoritarian institution which remains largely hidden” (Young 1991:328).
Prior to the Police and Magistrates Act 1994 the Chief Constables always had to approach the Home Office for approval to any changes or amendments to their establishment including the number of officers or support staff that they utilised to make-up of their force personnel. Alongside this Act stood an important key framework of performance indicators (KPI) that had originally been empowered by the Home Secretary. These KPI’s indirectly introduced the comparison of the Home Office Police Forces. Also these KPI’s allowed the Home Secretary to set annual policing objectives that they felt were important and should be hit. However, if any of them failed they would then be held accountable for their failures. With the implementation of the Act alongside the Police Authorities it gave the opportunities to allow the Police Service to embrace any modern management techniques that had previously been disregarded by the local politicians and their officials.
Managerial skills are essential to the fulfilment of this aspiration, accomplished only by;
- An awareness of current management theories and their relationship to classical and neoclassical management techniques.
- An acknowledgment of the importance of the processes of management, consideration of conceptual aspects of organisation with a commitment to administrative models.
- Acquiring knowledge of the tactical and strategical considerations of resource utilization.
- The application of management audit concepts to law enforcement agencies and an awareness of the change process.
The theoretical aspects of management provide a necessary frame of reference for an adequate understanding of the evolution of police management.
With the introduction of an effective regulatory action it does not only have dire consequences for the related performance of the requisite managers but can also be reflected badly on the government performance. With this in mind government based systems that work of a KPI not only offer greater control but also give government ministers a greater responsibility. Some of the regulators are deemed to be independent however; this does not prevent the police governance to be dislodged from the function of the Government (Bevan & Hood 2006). Butterfield stated “the main process the Government uses to ensure that the changes take place is that of managing performance. This is achieved through a series of processes that include performance indicators, objective setting and personal appraisal systems” (Butterfield 2001). These assumptions introduced the practises from the commercial sector and public services to offer a cost effective methodology and a greater onus on PM to provide an improve service provision and accountability. This approach of PM has given government ministers a more strategic role by enabling those managers responsible for the delivery of service more freedom on how and when it is to be delivered but at the same time maintaining control via the KPI.
During the period of 2006 and 2008 numerous qualitative studies were undertaken by Chatteron and Bingham on the impact of PM within the police service. The findings of these results caused the Police Federation of England and Wales to pressurise the Government to commission qualitative research into this subject. This has caused issues and debate within the organisational structure of the police forces receiving pressure by a “bottom up” or “top down” approach to PM (Sewell 1999). By the introduction of the top down driven PM approach this could cause issues and have an impact on the nature of the policing approach and style “Performance measurement may threaten the operational independence of chief constables and alter the style of policing from that of service to enforcement” (Rogerson 1995:25). Some of these findings were so detailed that it can be argued that individuals would not be interested in digesting the results therefore not showing any interest in the KPI’s. “There is an additional problem persuading the customers to take any interest in performance measures or their interpretation” (Smith 1995:135).
Also Docking found little interest shown by the general public on the data established; “feelings were mixed about whether information was wanted about how well the police were performing (many expressed no interest, those that were interested expressed concern over how performance would be measured and about the usefulness of statistics). What interest there was related to performance information at the very local level and it was felt that this would be linked to policing priorities.” (Docking 2003:vi). It has also been identified that certain performance targets that have been set by the Government were not aligned with the desired or required outcomes therefore lacking. Jackson stated “Performance-monitoring systems have important hidden dimensions below the water-line of indicators and measures. These include the logical foundations and values upon which the whole system rests. Weakness in these areas, along with a lack of appreciation of the different values that lurk in the depth of the performance-monitoring system, results in service implementation problems” (Jackson 1993:9). In 1993 Linkerman advised that for PM to be effective and avoid the tendency towards ‘what gets measured gets done’ (ibid 1993:15) various device measurements would need to be implemented. Also it is can be assessed that PM systems could encourage the organisation withholding information on ‘good practice’ in order to maintain a competitive edge. Also with the implementation of KPI’s and PM it can be maintained that it could demoralise staff. Other factors are dependent upon a large number of inter-relating factors and competing individual objectives and can include the security of employment, future potential/remuneration.
“Studies of policing at the managerial level are few, although there have been studies on professionalization” (Collier 2005:2). The significant changes that have been identified to the PM data have been attributed to the managerial action and thus have placed an onus on their managerial style. The emphasises of the learning from all of the studies confirmed that PM could be utilised if adapted correctly to control and facilitate service improvements.
A major importance in the implementation of PM is to ensure that when reflecting on the negatives it is important to consider Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ (1943). Maslow’s concept of self-actualisation relates directly to organisations and the present day challenges and opportunities. When utilising The Hierarchy of Needs it is probably not going to capture every aspect, but it does remain a framework for trying to understand aspects of human behaviour.
With the removal and replacement of various aspects to the managerial chain or procedures it would be important to manage the failings properly to prevent the low morale and uncertainty of the staff. Both elements (Replacement vs Removed) can be clearly reflected again utilising Herzberg’s “motivational hygiene” theory, according to which hygiene factors have to be reduced as well as motivators increased, to develop positive motivation. Comparing the two elements, it displays the Motivators who could be interpreted as the new replacement procedures and the removed procedures as the demotivators, again it highlights that one change in a factor can reverse the balance within any change.
To enhance the PM procedures it is important to establish a current overview of the organisation. Before making changes it is important to look within the organisation to see what impact changes will make to the organisation dynamics. PESTLE (political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental) analysis is in effect an audit of an organisation’s influences with the purpose of using the information to guide strategic decision-making. The hypothesis is that if the organisation is able to appraise its current environment and assess potential changes, it will be better placed to respond to changes. To help make decisions and to plan, organisations need to understand the wider picture. A PESTLE analysis is merely a framework that categorizes environmental influences. The analysis examines the impact of each of these factors (and their interplay with each other) on the business. The results can then be used to take advantage of opportunities and to make contingency plans for threats when preparing business and strategic plans (Byars, 1991; Cooper, 2000).
Kotler (1998) claims that PESTLE analysis is a useful strategic tool for understanding market growth or decline, business position, potential and direction for operations. The headings of PESTLE are a framework for reviewing a situation, and can in addition to SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and Porter’s Five Forces models, be applied by companies to review a strategic directions, including marketing proposition. The use of PESTLE analysis can be seen effective for business and strategic planning, marketing planning, business and product development and research reports. PESTLE also ensures that company’s performance is aligned positively with the powerful forces of change that are affecting business environment (Porter, 1985).
Below is an example of a PESTLE analysis conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service. The National Policing Plan is a three year-rolling strategy document that was designed to provide a single point of definition for the Government’s priorities for the Police service, performance indicators by which that service is assessed and new developments planned to enable priorities to be met.
Implementing change within police forces would require the support of management within the framework to succeed in making the transition successful. For these changes to be introduced within the services the organisations would need to utilise the Kottter’s 8 Stage process:
Create a sense of urgency – It was important to clearly highlight the current operational failings and the reasoning behind the issues to the client. Even though processes have changed the personnel within the police force are unable/unwilling to adapt. The shortcomings will not change unless the core issue is dealt with.
Build a guiding team – The operational changes would need to be managed by management to an acceptable level. Establishing at an early stage the ability of team members through assessment and interviews. The identified remaining individuals need to also accept the change and future outlook.
Develop a change vision – Being unable to instigate change to process effectively with the current team, it is easy to portray a negative to a positive outcome of a “functioning team”. To be able to develop processes to aid overall business efficiency and time management.
Communicate the vision buy in – As the replacement staff have begun to train within the contract, the negative morale and output greatly affects the image and focus of the change. It is important to separately communicate to them the positive future outlook.
Empower broad based actions – The first removal from the contract, starts with the removal of obstacles to driving the change, it is also important for the staff to see that the change is happening.
Issues have arisen within the police forces since the emergence of PM and in particular with cost-cutting measures to management. During a conference held in 2006 it was discussed that the in the inspecting ranks make a critical contribution to sharp end policing and should not be treated as “management on-costs”. Addressing members of the Inspectors’ Central Committee in Bournemouth Ch Supt Derek Barnett, President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, voiced his concern that numbers in the rank had declined. “My concern is that chief constables look at the superintending and inspecting ranks and believe them to be management on-costs.” He also said inspectors were not only managers – but were there to lead and inspire. Also during the same conference the Policing Minister Mr Nick Herbet stated that “politicians have no place to interfere in operational decisions or tell chief officers how they should move forward in the wake of cuts”. He was also under the opinion that it was down to individual forces as to how they implemented reductions and managed austerity. The minister was speaking after Insp Brian Robinson from North Wales Police claimed that budget cuts of 20 per cent had been “causing mayhem” in his force. “The decision is for chiefs to take – obviously I do not run police forces directly.”
In conclusion it can be seen that PM was a major catalyst for change however, the potential benefits were manipulated by the managers and ministerial government to disguise the failings of the police forces. It is also proposed that further research is required within the policing sector to analyse problems to enrich a better understanding of PM. It can be identified that by the introduction of PM this has increased the control afforded to Central Government over the police and a dire need to improve the efficiency of the service. Effective policing will need to strike a balance between controlling the workforce and granting enough autonomy for flexibility and innovation.
Jackson also highlighted a grave area of concern in the implementation ‘2problems when trying to instil a performance-monitoring system. Another issue to raise concern is that with the cost-cutting implementation to resources these can undermine the PM proves with the thoughts from lower ranks to their superior. By the implementation of PM within the policing context it has caused police officers to concentrate on ‘easy’ arrests in order to meet specific targets (Tendler, 2007; Monro 2008). A further argument is that because of the crime levels they can be defined as a criminal justice problem rather than the more underlying issue of social causes. Bevan and Hood (2006, p.8) ‘governance by targets rests on the assumption that targets change the behaviour of individuals and organisations…’. This can be argued as either having a positive or negative effect on individuals or organisations. This effect may improve the performance or it could be argued that targets can indicate are desire to control local delivery and accountability.
An evaluation of the impact from PM within the police service of England and Wales will only further enhance the current understanding. Also even though numerous studies have taken place there is still a lack of knowledge to ‘what works!’. Bailey concluded that “most police forces in the world quite literally do not know what they are doing” (Bailey 1983). “In scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge, I couldn’t be any clearer about your mission: it isn’t a 30-point plan; it is to cut crime. No more and no less” (Greenwood, 2010, p.1).
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