All Change

A regular occurrence for police officers is change. Changes to shifts, changes to roles, changes to policy and changes to legislation. Some of this is totally necessary but other areas are on the whim of senior officers. Yet what’s so special about that? Every organisation goes through the same process doesn’t it?

The police have two tiers of entrants. Normal and the high potential development scheme (HPDS). The latter has been about for many years under this name or previously the accelerated promotion scheme. But this is no different to companies offering graduate entry schemes is it not?

When I worked for The Post Office many years ago the graduate scheme seemed flawed. Only on the basis that people sat in management positions who had no idea or experience of getting up at 4am and walking in the rain with a heavy sack of mail. My belief is that managers must have fundamental experience of the primary role of the business. Those that do promote leadership and improvement from a position of strength.

The police are slightly different in that all officers start at constable. But one has to question how fast HPDS officers progress and how much time is spent doing the nuts and bolts of hands on police work.

So is one better than the other? Difficult to say. Both sides have excellent examples. I have experience of those who joined at base level and battled their way to senior positions and did so superbly. I also know of officers working through the HPDS that have been superb but others who were utterly dreadful. The key to me here is not what qualifications you can attain or how good you are at passing initial promotion exams. It’s about something far more fundamental .. Leadership.

Historically HPDS officers will have the biggest impact on policing in the UK as more of them attain the most senior positions than those who are not. These are career minded individuals who are task and performance driven. It often seems to me that the very reason there is so much change within forces is because senior officers, pursuing promotion are far more likely to make change for change’s sake to put something dynamic on their CV. How do you sell yourself for promotion saying that your current position needed little change, the staff work well and you left things alone. Promotion boards don’t seem bothered about morale or how cohesive BCU staff are. We know that statistics can say anything we want them to say. So a change is implemented, advertised as a total success whilst at the business end the staff often believe it to be a failure. The candidate gains promotion and moves on. The staff are left behind to pick up the pieces. Meanwhile the new boss moves in and starts looking at change. It’s a wonder we ever get anything done with all the time we spend on readjusting to a new idea.

There have been some colossal mistakes over the years. My force has realised some of its errors and, encouragingly, is moving some roles back to how they used to be. But in typical HPDS style we are not moving back. We are moving forward in a familiar way!


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