Police officers seeking promotion should have access to more leadership and management training, according to new research.
Working in partnership
Skills for Justice, working in partnership with the College of Policing, the Police Federation and forces across the country, has conducted a review of existing qualifications designed to help police officers gain promotion.
The organisation reviewed the Police First Line Management Level 4 Certificate (for Sergeants) and the Police Management Level 5 Certificate (for Inspectors) and surveyed more than 1,200 members of police forces across the country to help identify any changes needed to the qualifications to reflect working practices of today and tomorrow.
It found that the Level 4 certificate was overall fit for purpose, but changes needed to be made to the Level 5 certificate to reflect the evolving management role of inspectors.
Sergeants considered the following three ‘core functions’ to be most critical at their rank and for which further learning should be included in the Level 4 Certificate.
- Build, manage and support teams (including aspects related to team leadership and staff professional development)
- Manage Performance of teams
- Manage Staff well-being and work-life balance
Some Sergeants also felt that team management responsibilities traditionally undertaken by Inspectors have now been ‘devolved’ to Sergeants due to the flattening of the management structure.
Meanwhile, Inspectors felt that newly-promoted Inspectors should be equipped with a wider ranging set of competence to be effective in their role. In a context of budget cuts and staff reduction, Inspectors are now managing an increasingly wider range of activities. Similarly to Sergeants, Inspectors felt newly promoted Inspectors needed further support in the development of leadership and team management skills. In light of recent and ongoing transformation in the police, some interviewees also added that accessing training related to change management could also help Inspectors lead and implement organisational changes more effectively within their teams.
Both Sergeants and Inspectors said that promotion in silos should be avoided as it may prevent officers developing generic competence required at Sergeant and Inspector ranks.
A Skills for Justice spokesman said: “In recent years, the policing landscape has significantly changed along with the role of Sergeants. Sergeants have an increasingly important role in managing teams. Developing leadership, team and performance management competence are considered essential in order to get a team to function effectively. Sergeants need to become more effective leaders to improve team performance, even more so in the context of austerity.
“Sergeants are currently managing teams working to capacity against a context of cutbacks and staff reduction, Police Officers are under pressure to ‘deliver more for less’ this often impacting on their work-life balance and welfare. It’s clear from our research that forces should be putting a greater emphasis on the development of management skills at Sergeant level and upwards.”
The two qualifications now form part of the new National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) which was launched by the College of Policing in November.
Currently officers sit two exams, called OSPRE® I and OSPRE® II, before becoming eligible for promotion.
Under NPPF officers will sit the OSPRE® I exam on law, while OSPRE® II will be replaced by a local selection process to identify the best candidates at the next rank.
If successful, they will be selected for temporary promotion and undergo a 12-month work-based assessment programme before any final promotion. Successful candidates also receive the appropriate Level 4 or Level 5 certificate.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall, Chief Executive of the College of Policing, said: “The introduction of the National Police Promotion Framework is the first significant change to the promotion process for many years. It will give newly promoted sergeants and inspectors the operational and leadership skills they need, while ensuring there is a national standard across policing.”
Policing Minister Mike Penning said: “The National Police Promotion Framework will make sure officers who want to win promotion are developing the skills they need in a consistent way across England and Wales.”