On 24 September 2014 the College of Policing launched its Strategic Intent document for consultation. The document sets out the College’s plans to enhance and set standards in policing, accredit educational providers, and forge closer links between policing, academics and universities to assess what really works in reducing crime.
You can access the full document here, and below is the Association’s response to the consultation.
PSAEW Response to the Strategic Intent Consultation
As National President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) I am responding to the College of Policing consultation on its Strategic Intent document on behalf of the Association.
The Association has been fortunate to be in a position to influence and shape the College of Policing since the very outset, and the National Officers of the Association are very much part of the ongoing development and work of the College through their involvement at Board, Professional Committee and other meetings. Consequently the PSAEW is in agreement with the developing role of the College as outlined in the Strategic Intent document, and the services that the College plans to offer.
In terms of the College’s priorities, I’m pleased to see a review of leadership development in the plan for 2013/14 as this is a particular issue for our members. Since the development of the Senior Leadership Programme (which is aimed at newly promoted Superintendents) many more experienced Superintendents feel that they have missed out on any national leadership development opportunities. Consequently some forces, and individuals, have resorted to ‘buying in’ leadership development locally. This has lead to a lack of consistency of development (and support) for our members across the country which can impact not only on their ability to progress to more senior ranks, but also on their ability to lead others effectively at their current rank.
It is essential that any review also looks at fairness issues in terms of access to leadership development programmes. The Association does try to raise awareness of available programmes but there is a feeling that forces are selective about who they chose to send on particular programmes and that this isn’t always done in a fair and transparent manner. The Association supports, therefore, a national ‘curriculum’ for Superintendents and Chief Superintendents that is mandatory for all, which would resolve this issue.
It would also be helpful to see the review of leadership focus on relevant behaviours as well as skills, since it is the behaviours of senior leaders that tend to determine the climate or environment in which staff work. This links to a range of other issues that impact on the service, including integrity. Our National Deputy Secretary has been actively involved with the team developing the Integrity Programme at the College, and whilst we support the current work that is ongoing as part of that programme, we do feel strongly that, in addition to the Code of Ethics and new policies and registers, more needs to be done to address behavioural change in the service that will ensure that these changes are positively embedded. It’s not clear what the role of the College, if any, is in tackling these behavioural changes.
The Strategic Intent document contains a number of references to developing a more representative workforce and it is a positive step to see positive action for representative groups included in the work programme for 2013/14, however it is important that any equality-related work looks beyond the ‘easy to measure’ protected characteristics, ie gender and ethnicity. Diversity in policing goes far beyond this and any programmes of support must include officers and staff who are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender, or who have a disability, and consideration should also be given to the impact of age on officers and staff. It is also important to value differences that aren’t covered by the protected characteristics outlined in the Equality Act 2010, such as differences in leadership styles. In some forces there is a clear leadership style that appears to be recognised by chief officers as the successful style, and so even white males with a different style are not valued as making a positive contribution. The tendency to promote in one’s own image (due to either unconscious or conscious bias) is one that is common in policing, but is not healthy and will have a negative impact on a force’s effectiveness. Not only is there overwhelming evidence that teams with a variety of perspectives perform more effectively, but such teams will be more representative of the communities we serve, thereby leading to increased legitimacy. They are also more likely to create an environment whereby challenge is encouraged which will have a positive impact on improving the integrity in policing. I would hope to see more references to ‘difference’ in its widest sense in future College publications.
The Association’s National Executive Committee discussed the issue of membership, and in particular membership fees, at its most recent meeting. There is an acceptance that, at the present time, all Association members are also members of the College, along with colleagues at all ranks and grades who deliver policing services. It was felt, however, that there was less clarity about what the College ‘offer’ was over and above this membership level if, in the future, consideration was to be given to membership fees being charged. The question to which the answer still isn’t clear, is, “What added value will paying members get over non-paying members?” (depending, of course, on whether membership fees are to be voluntary or mandatory). Once this offer is made more clear than it is at present, then the Association will be happy to consult with its wider membership about the issue of membership fees.
In conclusion, the Association is actively involved with the College on many levels and hopes to continue this position into the future. There is some room for improvement in relation to consultation, however, particularly in relation to issues that directly affect our membership (such as the leadership development review) and we are also keen to assist with raising awareness of the College’s offer to its members. I believe that more use could be made of both our website and also the Association’s direct communication with members to raise awareness of opportunities and other issues, particularly where they relate directly to our members.