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Interview: Chief Constable Nick Adderley's bottom-up approach

Northamptonshire's Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, has just completed his first two years in the job and tells Police Oracle why he believes a certain type of leadership is important to workforce morale
Published - 11/09/2020 By - Chloe Livadeas

Nick Adderley is a chief constable who seems to invoke faith and morale among the ranks, and is known for his straight-talking and down-to-earth attitude which appears to bridge the gap between management and frontline officers.

He says the welfare of the workforce is his number one priority.

“If we don't put the wellbeing of officers at the heart of everything that we do, we have no force,” he adds.

CC Adderley emphasises how he “genuinely cares” for his officers, and showing that makes officers work more “heartily and professionally”.

“If I don't genuinely care, well that makes me a fraud. It makes any leader a fraud if they don't genuinely care for the people that they lead,” he said.

Over his almost 30-year policing career, CC Adderley has found himself at the centre of tragedy and trauma. Back in 2012 when he was a BCU commander in Greater Manchester Police, two of his PCs, Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone, were brutally murdered after being lured into a trap by wanted criminal Dale Cregan.. 

Chief Supt Adderely was on the brink of resigning after questioning whether he had done enough to protect the officers from the danger posed by Cregan, who was already wanted for two murders and on the run.

He was persuaded to stay and three years later went on to be assistant chief constable at Staffordshire Police before getting the top job at Northamptonshire in August 2018.

He was appointed by Northamptonshire’s Fire, Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold, who described CC Adderley’s leadership as a “visible” one that was taking the force in the right direction after being rated inadequate by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ last PEEL assessment.

The investigation into the death of young motorcyclist Harry Dunn outside a US airbase put him into the national spotlight, and the situation appeared to be made worse by very public tension with the family at the end of 2019 after the person wanted in connection with the fatal crash left the country using diplomatic immunity. 

Then in April this year his rhetoric during the COVID-19 lockdown drew criticism from the media and the Home Secretary over what they considered overzealous comments about checking shopping baskets for essential items.

So it’s not exactly been plain sailing for the chief.

CC Adderley appears unfazed by shaky PR, and referred to the “bit of a stink” caused when he announced he was going to make Northamptonshire the first force to arm all its officers with a Taser.

“Actually, from my experiences in Greater Manchester I will never ever shy away from giving them the best equipment, training and kit that we  can, and that was absolutely the right thing to do,” he says.

For him, his force comes first which stems from the belief that a well looked after workforce provides a better service for the community they police.

He said if wellbeing was not at the top of the list, officers may go into a “mechanistic process” without any “discretionary effort”.

“Whilst I don't want people to break their backs, I expect them to actually come and do a decent day's work,” he said.

He also emphasised the importance of having humility as a chief constable and “understanding that you don't have all the answers".

He says: "Don’t be this ‘high and mighty, I dictate and you do’”.

He said sitting in the office scratching his head over a problem won’t get him as far as when officers are consulted and their input is listened to and acted upon when shaping o

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