College unveils 'radical' changes to police leadership training

Leadership training will be delivered to every rank and role across the service under “radical” changes announced by the College of Policing on Wednesday (June 21).

Jun 21, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: College of Policing

Consistent national standards are being introduced for the first time and will be delivered through the college’s new National Centre for Police Leadership (NCPL). These will ensure “high-quality training” so everyone within the police service is equipped with the skills and knowledge to cut crime and deliver a better service for the public.

Introducing the reforms, the college’s chief executive officer, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “This is the hardest time for policing I can remember in almost 40 years’ service and we cannot continue along this path. Something radical must be done.

“Policing must have high quality leaders at every rank and grade. We know about 80 per cent of officers and staff choose not to move beyond the rank of police constable so it cannot be right that leadership training is only given to those who seek promotion.

“We can no longer afford to underinvest in the people we expect to lead. Everyone in policing should be given the leadership training and development they need so they are fully equipped to solve more crimes, keep people safe and call out internal bad behaviour.

“While the College of Policing is leading this work, it will only be achieved with the support and dedication of everyone in policing and I hope colleagues across the service will fully commit to this new approach.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “In order to restore the public’s confidence in policing and to attract the very best to keep our streets safe, strong leadership is required across all ranks.

“I welcome the College of Policing’s commitment to driving up performance, equipping all officers with the skills and behaviours needed to become effective leaders.”

The new approach signals a shared commitment from across policing to improve the extent, quality and consistency of leadership development at all levels of policing. Supporters believe the new approach will improve policing performance, rebuild public trust, and help fight crime.

The college says its standards are intended to prepare the service for the “complex and evolving challenges” facing modern policing. They will set the expectation for all police professionals to uphold the Code of Ethics, contribute to an inclusive workplace culture, and challenge unprofessional actions.

The standards will be shared with all forces today with work to implement the new standards and wider NCPL activity continuing over the coming months.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chair, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, supported the change, saying: “Effective leadership has a vital role to play in delivering the best possible service to our communities. Our workforce has been boosted by the 20,000 new officers recruited through the Police Uplift Programme and these new standards, along with the NCPL will support all officers, staff and volunteers as they develop through their career.

“A choice of different entry routes means that policing is still a highly attractive vocation with many opportunities to specialise and progress. This commitment to reforming leadership underlines the fact it is a great time to join and be part of the positive changes we are making.”

The NCPL will comprise in-person, online and in-force training; resources for personal development; leadership standards; and the new five-stage Police Leadership Programme, which covers every step of a police officer’s career.

Stage one is the new initial entry routes into policing, which have already been rolled out across the country. Stage two covers sergeants and other first line leaders and is currently being piloted in several forces. The programme continues until stage five, the Executive Leaders Programme, which must be successfully completed before appointment as a chief officer.

Police and crime commissioner Marc Jones, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and member of the College of Policing Board, said: “These new national standards set a clear benchmark for leadership performance in policing and seek to ensure consistency and quality of leadership across all levels which we wholeheartedly welcome. This is a pivotal time of change for policing and these reforms will equip leaders with the ability to respond robustly to the challenges facing policing and improve public confidence.

“With the Police Uplift Programme seeing a significant increase in young-in-service police officers, the role of first in line supervisors has never been more important. Ensuring supervisors are equipped to support and lead this new generation of officers is vital in tackling systemic issues and in transforming the workplace culture in policing.

“We also welcome the potential for the new leadership development programme to increase the flow of talent into the chief officer ranks which we hope will raise standards and lead continuous improvement in productivity and performance.

“We look forward to working with the College of Policing and our national partners to ensure the effective implementation of these standards and will be monitoring the impact of these over the coming months.”

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