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College starts programme to "create leaders at every level"

A new centre to create ?leaders at every level? is set to get the green light from ministers.
Published - 11/07/2022 By - Chris Smith

A fundamental shift to enable officers at every level to develop leadership skills is being started by the College of Policing.

As part of a ‘new deal’ between officers and the College, a Leadership Centre is being created and Police Oracle understands from government sources that a search for potential sites for it is about to begin.

The new centre will “set standards for leadership excellence across the service”, as well as providing “leadership development opportunities for all in policing”, enabling police officers and staff to achieve their full professional potential.

The idea was first set out in the College's fundamental review but it has now significantly developed.

College Chief Executive Andy Marsh told Police Oracle: "Leadership makes everything better. When I talk to officers about my own experiences, some of the best of times in my career - and some of the not so best times - there is something consistent. As well as being part of a team that was making progress, there will always be an effective leader."

Officers will be encouraged to move away from the traditional hierarchical approach in policing which is based on guidance and prioritising by lead officers.  

Instead, officers will be enabled to be, according to Mr Marsh, the “leader who makes a difficult decision at 3am”.

The idea is similar to the mission control strategy developed in the military and NASA where frontline people actively problem solve, set objectives and make decisions in real time.

But the College stresses they will be expected to make evidence-based decisions.

It says the process involves honest dialogue, transparent decision-making and getting senior managers to change how they see themselves - "a shift from from task-issuing to enablers who support and guide."

The idea is also a response to public criticism over standards in the wake of a series of scandals, retention and the lack of diversity in the ranks.

Mr Marsh said: “These challenges should never be an excuse, but if they are not addressed by strong leadership, they can create breeding grounds for the wrong type of culture. The College of Policing must take a lead role in helping officers and staff to overcome these barriers.”

People close to the project say the reform should be seen together with the roll out of the policing degree and Strategic Command reforms revealed by Police Oracle last week.

It’s also being used as the opportunity to develop the Uplift generation of officers who now account for up to 23% of new PCs in forces.

Details of the new programme were shared with Chiefs in May and three forces – Merseyside, South Yorkshire, and Cambridgeshire – and the Police Now scheme are piloting the training and support.

College Chief Executive Andy Marsh said:  “Everyone in policing has a leadership role. Whether it’s leading the response to an incident, supervising a new recruit, delivering a project or managing a large team or department. We’re supporting officers, staff and volunteers, in all ranks and roles, to develop and continuously improve leadership skills at every stage of their career."

A critical issue will be getting Home Office funding to support the shift.

The Police Federation warned that the initiative would need to be funded and come with support from the middle ranks.

Dave Bamber, Learning and Development Lead at the College of Policing, said: “The proposals for a Leadership Centre are welcomed; it is a positive step that the federated ranks are being seen as key to the success of leadership with in policing. A pipeline of opportunity to develop our leaders of the future has been long awaited.

“But it needs the buy in from the existing leaders, who’s processes and opinions may be challenge. As a strategy the centre is a good idea, the selection process and ability to access it will be the elements that may either make it or break it.”

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