Police Federation

Allowing poor leaders to train next cohort is illogical

PFEW professional development lead responds to launch of College of Policing Leadership Programme.

10 July 2023


Future policing leaders should not be trained by poor leaders, Police Federation of England and Wales professional development leads have highlighted as the College of Policing launches a new Police Leadership Programme.

The College has established the National Centre for Police Leadership (NCPL), a hub for leadership standards, training and development for officers, staff and volunteers at all ranks and grades.

Alongside it is the Police Leadership Programme which aims to create a clear national framework for development and progression.

Following the Baroness Casey Review, the need for stronger, directive and ethical leadership within the service is evident in order to rebuild public trust. This has raised some serious questions over how forces will train their future leaders.

Commenting on the matter, PFEW Professional Development Lead Paul Matthews said: “We welcome any improvements in leadership and are very encouraged by the College of Policing’s programme for federated ranks.

“However, within the report there seems to be a lack of accountability towards current leadership for failures.

“We would strongly recommend the service looks outside of the police service to source people who have a proven track record of innovative, performance-based leadership for training purposes. Budding policing leaders should be trained by the very best and not be trained by poor leaders, as that would be illogical.”

As part of the programme, the College will also be working towards reforming the promotion process to make it more transparent, standardised and supportive.

PFEW has continued to raise concerns over the promotion process, fearing the hurdles put in place are deterring the best officers from working their way up through the ranks.

In 2019, 74 per cent (222) of the 300 people surveyed by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services agreed the promotion selection process was not ‘transparent and fair’.

Additionally out of the 13 per cent of officers who told PFEW they went for promotion within the last year, just two per cent were successful, and five per cent were not, according to the latest Pay and Morale Survey.

Mr Matthews added: “We are pleased the College of Policing is now taking steps towards reforming the promotion process as more must be done to nurture officers who are naturally good leaders.

“Leaders identify themselves through their proactiveness, enthusiasm and their ability to communicate, but the service makes it extremely difficult for some officers with this potential to progress by putting in hurdles and unnecessary processes.

“The service adopts procedures to make the promotion process seem fair, but in doing so actually makes it incredibly unfair, as some people do not thrive under exam conditions, whereby they have to recall masses of information from a textbook.

“The new process should be more effective and fairer as it looks to make assessments evidence based, rather than textbook knowledge based.

“Every officer will know of someone who should be a superintendent but isn’t and are sticking to be a PC and for us that is wrong.”

PFEW also has ongoing concerns around the number of PCs sergeants are now having to manage. With the influx of new intakes, combined with low promotion rates, supervisory ratios for sergeants have almost tripled in some cases.

“You can be the best leader in the world, but if you’re given too many people to manage you can’t lead them,” continued Mr Matthews.

“We will continue to work alongside the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure the professional development needs of our members are met.

“But ultimately, our members need fairer pay, better conditions and improved development opportunities, if not we will not be able to retain or promote, causing the imbalance we have seen with sergeants having to supervise far too many PCs.”

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