British police are the “best in the world” they are in desperate need of reform. Crime is falling year on year. So the people that fight crime are doing a good job and they are in desperate need of reform and need new leaders with no knowledge or experience of policing. (that will help)
Police management is not like real business management, it is management lite. By that I mean it is management without the risks of real management. Let me explain. These days police officers above the rank of Inspector like to think that they are running a business. They talk about customers and targets and use phrases like “we are managing the cuts in funding and staff so that we can still deliver quality of service across all areas of business” whereas police constables are thinking “how do I manage today with less backup without getting my head kicked in” Senior police officers have been trying for years to use “modern business practices” and “business management strategies in policing and they all have a jolly good time doing it because they know that they can pretend to be managing a business without any of the reality of doing so. Our managers know that their business is not going to go into administration no matter how short of cash it becomes. They know that the business as a whole won’t be bought by a bigger and better business who will bring their own staff in. OK we know the government wants to privatise as much of our police force as possible but there will always be some core policing as we know it (I hope) Police managers know that no matter what silly scheme they introduce, whatever changes they make to the way the “business” is run, if it all fails and costs the business vast amounts of money they will not BE FIRED for their mistakes. Whilst junior ranks dealing with intense, rapidly changing and often violent incidents can make mistakes that end up with them being sacked for gross misconduct. In Theresa May’s new world of policing, forged by Tom Windsor, junior police officers will face compulsory severance for any reason at all. Those getting towards the end of a 30 year career and hoping to retire with a pension will get made redundant a couple of years short of that milestone so that their pensions wont be payable until they reach pension age. The MOD shamelessly did/are doing this to some of our soldiers robbing them of the financial future they have planned for so don’t think it wont happen in the police. I’m getting off the point a little.
The only exception to the management without risk idea is the Chief Constable who can be fired by the PCC, what I am talking about here is the middle and senior managers between Chief Inspector and Assistant Chief Constable.
I’m not saying that managing policing is easy or doesn’t deal with serious issues or deal with real risk, quite the opposite is true. Policing deals with far more important things than sales figures and corporate profits, we deal with lives. Making mistakes here can be fatal, not for the bosses but for someone on the ground, a member of the general public, a police officer. We don’t make profit but we can waste money and it’s not our money to waste, it belongs to tax payers like me. Constantly changing working practices in business may make more profits but in policing it just spends more money and often has no benefit to the public. So although the risks of an ill thought out management plan to the public are high, the risks to a manager are low.
I know of not one occasion in my 20 odd years service when I have heard of a senior officer being sacked for incompetence or because they screwed up a “business” decision and cost the company money. Yes they can get sacked for doing something criminal or for misconduct but never for just having a bad idea and cracking on with it despite advice from all around. This isn’t because they don’t fuck up, oh no sir, some of them fuck up spectacularly. I’ve seen plans costing many thousands introduced when everyone in the lower ranks said the plans will never work, senior officers plough on regardless and six months later the plans are scrapped costing more money. Nobody hauls that Superintendent into a board room and does an Alan Sugar on him – pointy finger – You’re fired! Usually there is a reshuffle and the Supers all move departments but nobody gets sacked or loses pay.
So policing at those ranks is an attractive place to play at managing a business without worrying about things like profit and loss or sales figures or takeovers or sackings (apart from having to sack junior staff) so if the government is to go ahead with its plan to recruit super dooper managers directly into the police at the rank of Superintendent without any police background we need to make sure that if they come in through that quick access door they can also leave by it when they fail to perform.
Before anybody gets the idea I support Tom Windsor and the Home Secretary’s plan for compulsory severance of police officers let me state absolutely that I do NOT support the policy for anyone below the rank of Chief Inspector, after that I think if you make the career decision to go into management then you should do so accepting all the risks that go with it. I am against compulsory severance for Police Constables because it throws up scary prospects for the independence of the office of Constable. At the moment police officers are only guided by the law, they only have to obey lawful orders and nobody can pressurise them to do otherwise by threats regarding losing their job if they don’t comply. If police constables can be made redundant then there is a danger of losing that integrity as managers or political masters will be able to get rid of those that don’t play ball. This is a scary prospect that politicians running the police (PCC) and others would be able to shape the workforce to their way of thinking by the constant threat of sacking anyone who doesn’t see it their way. Political control of the police is a nightmare we must avoid.
These two things cannot be unrelated
1. Sir Peter Fahey speaks out for ACPO to say that the police should consider positive discrimination to enable more ethnic minority officers to rise to senior rank, he says we need more ethnic senior officers, he says the problem is caused by “having to work your way up”
2. Government announce direct entry for Superintendents and fast tracking Inspectors in 3 years service. Government also announces it’s considering recruiting from overseas for senior ranks.
The desire to have more women and ethnic minorities in senior posts has always met with the problem that it takes time to implement, gaining experience and skills to enable entry into certain posts takes years and they want diversity NOW.
I’m just wondering what the prospects are for a straight white male recruit in the future. Will they be destined to remain as PC’s whilst fast trackers step past them for promotion. We already see adverts for jobs in some departments labelled “white men need not apply” well actually it says “applications from female and ethnic minority officers will be particularly welcomed” but it means the same thing.
Why do we need more ethnic senior officers? Senior officers don’t deal with the public ever and most cops don’t know who most senior officers are or ever see them so what makes them think that members of the general public know, or care who they are or where they come from. Members of the general public just want senior cops who can deliver good policing.
Any bright young things who want to join the police force will go for the fast track option and if they don’t get on it they will walk away from the police. Bright, intelligent, degree holding folk wont want to get stuck at the bottom as a PC on £19,000 a year with no prospect of promotion