Historically the bed-rock of British policing was based on the principle that you joined as a constable and after successfully completing two years probation went on to diversify in the service whether that be within a specialist field, promotion or both. There was a time for learning ‘street craft’, making mistakes, gaining professional skills and learning how to survive in moments of confrontation. It was all about understanding what made the police service tick in terms of culture, ‘can do’ and resilience and what made individuals place themselves in harms way to protect the public. Learning the ‘heart-beat’ of any organisation is rarely found in a manual of guidance. More recently several Forces are looking to recruit direct entrant Inspectors and Superintendents who have previous management experience. Clearly there are examples where this approach has worked successfully but is it the right time to adopt this approach in the UK Police Service. In my humble opinion whilst the service needs good managers what it desperately needs is leaders who know how to ‘press the right buttons’ to successfully lead with ever shrinking operational resources, based on first hand experience,
combined with a strategic understanding as to how to challenge the present Government thinking that providing additional policing powers rises above the need to have sufficient staff to use them.