Facing forward to the future, integrating workforces and improving wellbeing practices within the justice sector
We started off 2021 looking forward to the future, specifically, the future of policing, by attending The Police Foundation Annual Conference, one of the leading events in the policing calendar. Jon Parry, our Head of Research, joined a panel of experts to discuss the future skills needs of the police workforce, including the impact of skills deficits, current challenges, scenario planning, flexibility and collaboration, as well as the role of leadership. Jon also presented the key findings from our recent research, providing some evidence-based solutions to the question: “What needs to happen in the workforce to support the future-proofing of policing?”
Following Jon’s well received session at the conference, he took a deeper dive into the necessity for leaders to take a data-driven, workforce-centred approach to future proofing policing in an article published in Policing Insight. Based on his extensive 12 years of research, working closely with police forces to carry out surveys, interviews and focus groups, he touched on the need for our police service to diversify, in order to create a workforce more representative of the communities it serves; adopt digital technology across the service; as well as the necessity for adaptive leadership.
In March, we invited our members to join us at a knowledge exchange event focused on integrating workforces and the value of collaboration between justice sector organisations and those in the wider public sector to meet new challenges. Sharing their thought-leadership with delegates, alongside our own experts, were a range of industry-leading guest speakers including our Senior Consultant Rosemarie Simpson, Associate Mike Cunningham and Ged Devereux, Strategic Health Lead at the National Fire Chiefs Council. The workshop offered the opportunity for our members to make valuable connections and share insights with like-minded professionals in break-out room discussions.
An expert in professional and vocational training in the workplace, Rosemarie opened the event, discussing the current profile of both Health and Justice Careers, and how the development of roles within them can be facilitated through upskilling. She offered valuable insights into developing a culture of positive attitudes, with her presentation focusing on ‘helping people to exit the revolving door’. The key take away was the improvement in workplace morale and capacity that can be achieved through enabling your workforce to gain the skills for progression within their role, with staff able to learn from each other and map out their own pathways.
Ged Devereux explored the changing role of Fire and Rescue Services, emphasising the integral function of Response and Prevention as part of the fire service’s responsibility. He also discussed the flexibility in approach that Fire and Rescue Services need to enact in order to make the system suit individual public needs. Notably, that, as public sector workers, this flexibility is key in meeting demand and is best achieved through a person-centred approach, where the individual’s views on what is best for their health and their own priorities is taken into consideration. Furthermore, Ged discussed the efficacy of Fire and Rescue Services, who impressively, “responded well whilst maintaining the ability to attend to emergencies” throughout the pandemic.
Our final speaker was associate and former Chief Executive Officer of the College of Policing, Mike Cunningham. Mike shared with us his own extensive experience in the recruitment of new talent in the police force and how much has changed since he joined the police service thirty years ago. He pointed out the need for new recruits, as well as those who have been in policing for some time, to remain current and maintain the edge they need because people who seek to subvert the law remain current, finding new ways of using new technology and new ways of approaching vulnerability and victims. He also shared how collaboration across sectors is vital for the police today in tackling complex community safety challenges with multifaceted solutions.
Towards the end of the month, we joined up with our sister organisation Skills for Health, to present at The Emergency Services Wellbeing Conference. Sabina Enback, Senior Researcher, opened the event by walking the attendees through the results of her research COVID-19 Insights: Impact on workforce skills and its direct impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of our workforces. The statistics Sabina uncovered were alarming, with 68% of those who took part in the survey reporting a decline in their mental health as a result of working during the crisis. Sabina’s delve into this insightful dynamic research unveiled the risks of not engaging and consulting with your workforce.
Following on from Sabina, Toby Lindsay our Principal Consultant in Leadership, Management and Organisational Development showcased organisational and leadership studies which demonstrated the impact of good leadership and management on the undeniable interdependency of wellbeing and productivity of a workforce. The presentation concluded with sharing best practice in improving wellbeing of staff members and tips on how to be a visible, collaborative, and inclusive leader.
We regularly host informative and discursive events which attend to workforce development, leadership skills, as well as insights from our research team. For nearly 20 years’ we have been passionate about the development of skills, jobs, and establishing an efficient, productive, and fully sustainable workforce that is able to respond to current and future challenges.
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