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Superintendents' lead says policing needs to be more flexible

Paul Fotheringham, President of Police Superintendents' Association, has said that the way officers and staff complete desk-based work needs to change
Published - 04/04/2022 By - Cachella Smith

Kent Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringham told the Sunday Telegraph that a degree of flexibility is needed within the job in order for policing to remain an attractive career choice.

He said: “There's no escaping the fact that we can't compete in many ways with the private sector when it comes to employee packages and benefits, but we have so much else to offer that's [unique] to policing.

“The only way we will continue to be attractive as a career choice, whilst also bringing in people representing our communities, is to become more flexible and forward thinking when it comes to working patterns.”

Chief Superintendent Fotheringham additionally made reference to female officers with children and improving diversity.

According to the NAO review into the Uplift recruitment programme, 42 per cent of new officer recruits have been female, translating to 34 per cent of officers across the workforce.

Chief Superintendent Fotheringham said: “We know that some female officers have felt unable to continue with their work when deciding to have a family, and our own members have shared their experiences of this.

“We need to look at where we can support working parents back into the workplace, either through part-time hours that still enable operational work to be carried out, or through home-based working where there is no operational need to be in the office.”

UK policing saw a massive shift in 2020 when the pandemic necessitated remote working where possible.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners told Police Oracle that "the days of long travels to face-to-face meetings are largely over. We won't go back to the past and this will benefit us, both financially and in terms of efficiency.”

Mr Fotheringham acknowledged that such initiatives would not involve taking officers off the frontline or removing those in operational, public facing roles but changing the way officers and staff complete desk-based work.  

“Obviously in terms of uniformed officers you are always going to need people available to deal with emergencies but policing is about many different roles so the challenge for us in the future is to be much more flexible,” he said.

“Shift-based work will always be required for some roles, but where this isn’t the case, we need to be more flexible about how we allow our people to do their job. By doing this, we’ll be creating a workplace that more people can see themselves as part of and we’ll be on our way to forming the diverse workforce that we strive for.”  

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