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My personal story parental Mental health and suicide

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Hello, readers, this is my personal blog it’s kindly being hosted by Police Hour I’m very pleased to be here I hope to cast a light on how difficult it can be to live with someone you love with severe mental health issues .

I’m going to begin at the end sounds odd I know but you will see why as you read on .

1st of July the anniversary of my mum’s suicide . I have tried to come to terms with this over many years it’s been 25 years now since she finally succeeded in ending her life. Even when my Mum was alive she was the subject of contention resulting in many beatings that I received from my ex-husband and one of many attempts on my life.

I was still married to my now ex-husband when this happened and if I mentioned my mothers name this would cause a huge argument between my ex husband and I he would smash up everything in the house that meant anything to me and then he would beat me up so the whole subject was not allowed to be spoken about so I had to bottle up my feelings and did not have time to grieve like a normal person would so it has never really been addressed .

So how do you address your mother committing suicide ? You don’t really you go through the motions you cry uncontrollably you try to think of different things you could have done maybe should of done but didn’t quicker clever ways in which you could of prevented it every night you save her but every morning you wake up and the reality hits you that you were only dreaming and you didn’t save her at all but your dream was so real and so vivid you think she’s still alive I remember once shortly after loosing my mum I had such a dream and I’ve no idea why I rang my dad and asked how my mum was I’d somehow blocked out reality and without thinking rang up my Dad to talk to her . How strange the mind works sometimes.

My mother was clinically depressed and a paranoid schizophrenic life for her was traumatic at best getting from one day to the next when she had a bad day we all had a bad day she struggled to face life and was making constant attempts at taking her own life.

Reminds me of a quote

“There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain, the mind must leave reality behind”

Patrick Rothfuss

Here is the story My mum’s childhood was no normal childhood my Nan was a woman to be reckoned with my grandad was lovely from what I remember of him as he died when I was very young in the hospital of pneumonia. My Nan owned a dressmaking firm a very rich lady in her own right self-made and also ruthless with my mother. As early as my mum could remember she was making dresses for my Nan’s business sat on a sewing machine day in day out while her sister went to school and was showered in all the privileges my mother had nothing.

I strongly believe this form of mental abuse was the basis for my mother’s declining mental health twinned with a hereditary mental illness in our family she really didn’t stand much chance.

So then much to my mother’s delight she met my Dad he was much older than her and they got married and had children … 4 of us my mother was at her happiest when she was pregnant.

Growing up was a bit like the Stepford wives movie whereas we had a big house fancy car competition ballroom and Latin dancing, private language lessons, private music lessons and so it all seems great doesn’t it??.

Behind the scenes, we weren’t allowed to bring friends home because god forbid they saw our mother having one of her meltdowns the embarrassment of it would have shattered the subterfuge

Coming home from school entailed hiding behind the very large oak tree in our front drive checking to see if the car was in the drive and if it was. God help you if she was awake she would start shouting at you the moment you walked in the door about anything she could find to have a go about.

Then if you were lucky you could run upstairs shut your bedroom door and hoped that she got tired of screaming at you from behind it and went to bed , or if you were really unlucky in my sisters case she decided one morning my sister was scruffy and she ironed her school shirt on her back where she stood.

I was at the top of the staircase screaming my head off trying to make her stop. To this day my sister has an imprint of an iron on her back. I rang my Dad at work he owned his own business and hell broke loose he came home and my Mums primary target ” my Dad ” would get attacked with whatever she had in her hand first , a knife, rolling pin, ornaments and him would take all that from her and not raise one hand in anger to her .

My experience well my mother had a whole new ball game with me. I got the shouting and the screaming I remember the one time I ever saw my Dad go to raise a hand and then he didn’t he just shook her was when I had come home from school and my Mum decided that the clothes I had on were all wrong and she dragged me upstairs by my hair and she ripped them off me and started kicking and punching me, I went running from her but then she grabbed me again and threw me down the spiral staircase. She shouted for a while and I stayed where I was at the bottom of the stairs naked and cold until she got tired and went to bed.

I then rang my Dad and told him what happened, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so angry in my life I was black and blue. You also have to remember that in those days to involve the police was such an embarrassment there wasn’t the awareness there is now and domestic violence was taboo and hidden the subject of whispers and rumours of depraved women going to dirty refugees to escape their perpetrator and for a man to be the victim was totally unheard of .

During this time my Mum had ECT treatment and was committed 6 months to the mental asylum as they were in those days and from then on came the suicide attempts and serious attempts she nearly died several times taking overdose after overdose and life in between the shouting at my Dad, blaming him for everything life was a round of phone the ambulance phone the doctor.

Eventually, all my siblings left home as soon as they could my eldest sister first then my brother then my other sister leaving me. They came home every now and then only to go through the next round of suicide attempts.

There was one occasion where before they had all left my Mum came at my Dad with a knife and my Dad had no choice but to defend himself he got her pinned on the floor and disarmed her but as he did to this day I’ve no idea why she screamed at him ” this will be your fault I hate you” and the next thing she eyed the glass door to the lounge and put her leg through it , I saw her do it, blood everywhere she severed her main artery in her calf there was literally a fountain of blood pumping out of her leg, I rang the ambulance the police came as well only for my mother to continue shouting at the ambulance crew trying to treat her ! Dear bloody god, I remember shouting at her to let them treat her, in the end, the police officer shouted at her and that was all she wrote she shut up after that, and after a year and a half of operations on her leg it was never the same again another thing to blame my Dad for.

So my escape was horses, in the end, I used to run home grab my jods and my boots and spend my days mucking out and grooming the show jumpers I loved every minute of it to this day being around horses is the most I’m ever relaxed and I love horses the smells, the quiet breathing while your grooming and trimming were my therapy .

I eventually got my own horse, funnily enough, the only loving thing my Mum ever did she went against my father’s wishes to know my passion and she bought me a beautiful 15.2 Cleveland bay cross Arab. I paid for myself by working making sweets and desserts in the local pub. I am still friends with the girl I brought my horse from to this day.

So life was ok for a bit until I started getting male attention. It saddens my heart that my own mother was so jealous of me that she made moves on my very first boyfriend I didn’t know until after he dumped me. I then met my ex-husband she went to a whole new level with him, she lost weight bought new clothes changed her hair and one day when my ex-husband had had one too many to drink the night before and I had gone to college she made her move.

Unfortunately for me, I had lessons cancelled at college and I came home to be faced with her final plan.

I don’t want to write what occurred after that but you’re going to be thinking why did I marry this man at all? Well, I had got pregnant at 17 with him and sadly I lost the baby as it grew inside my tube and died inside of me. It was what you did then you married didn’t you it was the done thing save face all that. I justified marrying him in that I knew what she had done, I screamed at her and the first time in my life I slapped her around the face and horrified at myself, I then had to run out the house down the road after my now ex-husband as he decided after this he was going to kill himself I spent three hours talking him out of it.

My god, you must be thinking you arm chair critics why the hell did you marry that man ….. Well, I knew she had done it on purpose the penny dropped we all thought she was getting better but actually no !! She had other plans.

So I got married a double wedding with my eldest sister. My mum’s name was taboo but even then she pursued me she would come to the barracks to shout at me for hours and when I wouldn’t entertain her she would leave one day she shouted at my poor neighbour for 2 hours, she subsequently got banned from camp.

I then moved to Tidworth it was then that she finally managed to commit suicide.

My day began I went to work on camp in the kitchens I was at an officers mess that day and I remember walking through camp to get to where I was going only to be stopped my one of the guard sets , I wasn’t allowed a phone in those days and my Dad had rang the camp and told them and I was stopped and informed to ring my Dad.

I thought it was about another matter concerning my son and reported a resounding “No , tell him to get stuffed ” he then ran after me and said ” No you don’t understand it’s your mother ” , so I rang my Dad as soon as I got to the officers mess and I had the strangest phone conversation that went ” she’s finally done it” my Dad said, ” Ok ” I said “what hospital do I go to?”, ” No you don’t understand she’s done it” , ” Done what ?!”, I said more insistent this time, ” she’s killed herself she’s dead”, and slammed the phone down.

I sank to the floor and stayed there for a few minutes trying to process the information, eventually, I got up went into the kitchen and thought I need to go home but no one was around I was early. So I sat on the hotplate area floor until someone arrived not knowing if I wanted to cry or not. Events had unfolded that my mother had kicked my Dad out and then asked him to phone her every hour, my Dad did but in getting no answer he got worried and went back to the house, he could not get in with the key she had snapped the key in the lock ,my Dad putting two and two together called the Police and they broke in and my mother wasn’t to be found straight away.

” Done what ?!”, I said more insistent this time, ” she’s killed herself she’s dead”, and slammed the phone down. I sank to the floor and stayed there for a few minutes trying to process the information, eventually, I got up went into the kitchen and thought I need to go home but no one was around I was early.

So I sat on the hotplate area floor until someone arrived not knowing if I wanted to cry or not. Events had unfolded that my mother had kicked my Dad out and then asked him to phone her every hour, my Dad did but in getting no answer he got worried and went back to the house, he could not get in with the key she had snapped the key in the lock ,my Dad putting two and two together called the Police and they broke in and my mother wasn’t to be found straight away .

She had cut the Hoover wire from the Hoover and hung herself on the other side of the bedroom door, my Dad had pushed passed the Police Officers opened the door the wire snapped and my mother’s body fell on him. My Dad was so traumatised the Police took him to the hospital and for three days no one knew Mum was dead.

I went home and I told my ex-husband and at first, he hugged me then the next series of events were one of the nastiest things I can remember him doing.

He told me ” Good the bitch is dead, you’re not going to her funeral over my dead body, ” I thought he was kidding but when I went down to the families office the next day to get a train warrant to go I was told that he had refused to sign it over to me . I spent the whole day back and forth with him and the families office and still, he refused.

So, in the end, I managed to get a lift with my brother. We had the funeral and my brother dropped me off the same day.

As he was worried what he would do to me my brother came in the house with me, we couldn’t find him so we went upstairs and just as we did we found him with a set up of mountain ropes strung from the loft hanging in the spare room. We got him down straight away and nothing was done he was ok just bruised. I was in total shock bereft from the funeral now having to face my ex-husband’s attempt at the same thing.

After this, I was lost for a while I just went to work and tried to process events in my head, lucky for me I had good friends.

I hope by writing this it highlights both mental health and domestic violence it’s not always women that are abused my Dad was for many years I’m proud to say he never lifted a finger to my mother he will probably never forgive me for writing this, the truth covered up to save face to save anyone knowing the truth, because god forbid ! there, two friends, I have still to this day that knows they will read this and I know they are going to be proud of me.

If you take anything away from this blog know this , some people are in such trauma that they physically cannot cope with life they struggle to get through one day to the next spiralling into a mass of depression that no amount of help or counselling can reach I really believe this as it’s the only way I can rationalise my mums suicide in my brain. If someone is that determined enough no matter how many times you stop them they will succeed eventually.

I changed my life I got out of the circle of violence, it can be done , in life we make choices I made many wrong ones there were moments of clarity and moments of desperation but everyone has choices make your choices wisely keep good friends in your life and no matter how crazy and bereft you might feel your friends are the most important thing ………stable sensible friends . I owe a lot to one particular person they kept me going and never gave up on me they told me I was worth something and that I will never forget.

So 10 years down the line I’ve achieved so much even I find it difficult some days I have to pinch myself that I’m not dreaming I successfully secured a job in the police and since last year a voluntary role as a special.I have run 6 marathons so far and 19 half marathons my original blog” people .my story ” has been used by three police forces for their domestic violence campaigns I have attended white ribbon day twice as a guest for the police and I’ve met some outspeople.I’m an advisor for my friend Sam Billingham’s charity SODA Survivors Of Domestic Abuse I’ve been running marathons and raising money to help other victims .

This hasn’t come without its scars I don’t have full use of my left hand I can’t have children and a permanent medical condition caused by too many blows to my head I was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease about 7 years ago .

I hadn’t had anything for ages when my beautiful step mum lost her fight with cancer May 2015 I thought I was ok but I bottled it all up tried to support everyone else and the result was a set of 4 attacks in the space of 10 days which was so intense it caused hearing loss and  permanent tinnitus. Since then I had another massive bout July 2016 I had 64 attacks up until I had surgery on my ear August 2016 to fit a grommet and steroid injection into my middle ear as the last resort.

I have since been diagnosed with migraine variant balance disorder on top of Ménière’s disease one of three people on the hospital books with both . Sadly I was not given much choice than to resign from the specials so I no longer hold that position as from Aug 2016. To add to this after over two years and two operations and two procedures in a hospital to remove cervical cancer CIN 3 I have again gone back highly abnormal cervical smear and now it seems to be serious in that they think it’s a cancerous tumour I have to have major surgery .

Since then I had another massive bout July 2016 I had 64 attacks up until I had surgery on my ear August 2016 to fit a grommet and steroid injection into my middle ear as the last resort . I have since been diagnosed with migraine variant balance disorder on top of Ménière’s disease one of three people on the hospital books with both . Sadly I was not given much choice than to resign from the specials so I no longer hold that position as from Aug 2016. To add to this after over two years and two operations and two procedures in.

Sadly I was not given much choice than to resign from the specials so I no longer hold that position as from Aug 2016. To add to this after over two years and two operations and two procedures in the hospital to remove cervical cancer CIN 3 I have again gone back highly abnormal cervical smear and now it seems to be serious in that they think it’s a cancerous tumour I have to have major surgery .

But I’m a determined person I can bench press more than most blokes I try to keep as fit as my disability will allow me . I won’t let my past devour me it’s not going to happen I often have screaming nightmares about my domestic violence where I wake up sweating wondering where I am I have that moment of panic until I realise where I am . I won’t let my past define me instead I embrace it and write about it as almost a kind of therapy . I love this quote and I shall use it to close my blog thank you for reading .

” Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

Mary Oliver

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DDO #Policecustody *Ex Special *DV Survivor *Ménière's Disease*MarathonRunner* #RMR @ironcoppers @UK_COPS *bit deaf now all my minions are my ikkle own!

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Leadership Grounded in Service Delivery by Steve Cooper

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We have teamed up with Steve Cooper Police Promotion coach to bring you free tools and resources to help with your Police Promotion prep, Steve Cooper is one of the leading police promotion coaches in the United Kingdom.

Thanks to Steve and his company Rank Success is able to offer Police Hour readers free promotion tools that other coaches would charge you for, thanks to our great relation with Steve we are able to offer you this advice, information and valuable police promotion information and advice absolutely free of charge for the Police Hour readers looking for Police Promotion.

The focus of this exclusive editorial feature written by Steve Cooper is the ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is knowledge of the policing environment you aspire to lead in.  Here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:

  1. Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
  2. Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
  3. Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
  4. A response that goes beyond the theoretical
  5. Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
  6. Well-structured and considered responses
  7. Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery

Thing 7: Demonstrating Strong Leadership Skills, Grounded in Service Delivery

“Know what it is you are trying to accomplish and ensure others involved know the same.” – Patrick D. McGowan

All Bound for Mu Mu Land…

Leadership and Service Delivery are concepts featuring in all UK police promotion frameworks; the Competency and Values Framework (CVF), Police Promotion Framework (PPF) and the Metropolitan Leadership Framework (MLF). You can read a summary of CVF/PPF/MLF here, where you will learn they are not to be confused with the ‘Justified Ancients of Mu Mu Framework’ (KLF). I digress… These frameworks are key expectations of both Sergeant and Inspector roles.

The promotion board will of course have a marking guide and six or so questions for you, based on the rank competencies.  Adhering to the relevant competencies of the rank you aspire to in your verbal responses is a good strategy. This is almost always based on a sound understanding of your force promotion framework and aligning your own evidence to it.

So when it comes to service delivery, what indicators could a promotion panel consider when deciding whether to promote YOU instead of ‘A. N. Other’ candidate they may interview? This blog will take you through some of the human considerations of these supposedly ‘objective’ competencies.

Focus on Delivery

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James

Who why what

A ‘focus on delivery’ (internally and externally) is one indicator of potential. In raising your awareness around this, it may be helpful as part of your wider preparation to think through and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you someone who consistently sees things through to completion, delivering against challenging deadlines? 
  • Do you go above and beyond what is expected to get the job done? 
  • Do you take opportunities? 
  • Do you step out of your comfort zone to try new ways of doing things? 

I suspect the answer to all of these is a resounding yes. In the interests of preparing yourself ahead of a promotion opportunity however, you might want to delve a little deeper by asking yourself these further structured questions against the ones outlined above:

  • When did I do this? (CONTEXT)
  • What did I do? (SPECIFICS)
  • How did I do it? (ALIGNED TO COMPETENCIES)
  • Say to yourself “So what?” (RESULT / OUTCOME)

Spending some time reflecting like this can help you think through and develop some considered responses. You will be delivering these responses, to help the board see and hear that you are a candidate who considers and understands wider aspects. Someone who understands the role.

The Role

“When we all play our part the world will run as designed. Do your part, do it now!” – Temitope Ibrahim

What do you know about the role of Sergeant/Inspector? Everything or nothing? In truth it’s likely to be somewhere in between. Clearly, the more you know and understand about it the better. But both the Sergeant and Inspector role have expectations and responsibilities around managing resources, e.g. time, money, people and equipment linked to how service is delivered or provided.

Ask yourself – When have I managed resources to deliver, improve or recover service? 

What did you do? How did you do it? Then say to yourself “So what?” 

That might sound a little blunt, but it’s a good way of holding yourself accountable in formulating your evidence; it’s of limited use offering examples without a result or outcome. By limited use of course, I mean scoring 2 or 3 rather than 4 or 5 (out of 5). Remember that ‘good, better, BEST‘ mantra??

Promotion to Inspector

Service Delivery – Internal

“Within the context of reducing budgets and changing demand, the police service can continue to provide service but it will have to be delivered in different ways. We are determined to be as innovative as possible in meeting these challenges.” – From Reshaping Policing for the Public.

It is the Sergeant who, based on job knowledge and experience, directs the daily work of their team. With this in mind, what is your responsibility to deliver service internally? You’ll be expected to impart shared values, standards and culture to those under your supervision and as an aspiring promotion candidate, you’ll have a good idea of the kind of working environment you want to foster for your team. One in which people feel supported and where they are free to innovate, thrive and excel. Why is this important?

To ascertain your focus around this, the board might want to hear about your leadership and how you will set, communicate and reinforce standards to ensure service delivery and promote ethical behaviour.

Service Delivery – External

“The police service is under unprecedented pressure, having to deal simultaneously with financial austerity and changing patterns of crime. The police need to better understand the changing nature of demand on their services.” – Rick Muir

The effective investigation of crime, alleviating anti-social behaviour in communities and keeping the public informed all drive and maintain public confidence.

As an Inspector your role will include delivering and implementing plans in addition to allocating and monitoring the quality and progress of work relating to these and other aspects of service delivery.

  • So what do you know about wider challenges the service faces, particularly relating to understanding and/or managing demand?
  • What is your force doing well at the moment?
  • What is not being done so well? Why?
  • How can things be done more effectively and/or efficiently?
  • What will you do as a new Inspector to help the organisation move forward?

Addressing some or all of the above points and questions will help to elevate your awareness and increase your focus around service delivery. The name of the game.

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Promotion Interview Ahead? Don’t Let Al Capone Get You by Steve Cooper

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We have teamed up with Steve Cooper Police Promotion coach to bring you free tools and resources to help with your Police Promotion prep, Steve Cooper is one of the leading police promotion coaches in the United Kingdom.

Thanks to Steve and his company Rank Success is able to offer Police Hour readers free promotion tools that other coaches would charge you for, thanks to our great relation with Steve we are able to offer you this advice, information and valuable police promotion information and advice absolutely free of charge for the Police Hour readers looking for Police Promotion.

The focus of this exclusive editorial feature written by Steve Cooper is the ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is knowledge of the policing environment you aspire to lead in. As a reminder, here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:

  1. Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
  2. Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
  3. Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
  4. A response that goes beyond the theoretical
  5. Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
  6. Well-structured and considered responses
  7. Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery

Thing 6: Promotion Interview Ahead? Don’t Let Al Capone Get You

“Be precise. A lack of precision is dangerous when the margin for error is small.” – Donald Rumsfeld

A police promotion interview is arguably the most important element of a promotion selection process. This post is about getting the structure right. Good structure allows the panel to witness your communication skills and abilities first hand.

The focus of this 6th blog in this series of ‘7 Things Interview Boards Also Look for in Promotion Candidates’ is well-structured and considered interview responses.

The good news is that the necessary skills and abilities can be learned and developed. Unsurprisingly, those who pay attention to this are candidates who tend to stand out. Indirectly, the board members are also likely get an appreciation and impression of your attitude and prior commitment to preparation. They may even ask, “What have you done to prepare?”

The board want to know:

  • Are you a good risk?
  • Do you have the right skills to take the substantive position?
  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you do the job?
  • Do you act and speak as a leader, supervisor and manager?

‘Well structured and considered’ hints at a level of preparation that goes beyond simply turning up on the day, hoping all goes well and ‘winging it’.

Avoid Al Capone

Typically you will be asked around half a dozen questions in a promotion interview.

Police promotion scattergun approach

If you prepare sufficiently, you’ll be better equipped to respond effectively. If you don’t prepare, you run the risk of defaulting to the ‘Al Capone’ approach.

This is where you find yourself ‘machine gunning’ your words in a scattergun, indiscriminate or haphazard way, hoping you are saying the right things. But inside you may secretly be wishing you had made more of an effort to prepare yourself.

The opposite approach is silence. Having lots to say, but nothing will come out because you are stuck: ‘Speaker’s block’ if you like. Nerves get in the way and the words just don’t seem to flow. Incidentally, this is one of the biggest fears expressed when it comes to interviews. A commitment to some smart preparation can avoid these shortcomings and support you in developing a more confident approach.

The board members will be writing down a summary of what you say. Time spent considering how you might respond is often the difference between success and failure. It also boosts your confidence, because you become more familiar with what is expected.

Sshhhh: Take a moment…

“Speak in haste, repent at leisure”

Listen to the interview question

Just because you have been asked a question by the board, that doesn’t mean you have to respond in a nanosecond. It’s important to listen first.Take a moment to register the question. Listening is a leadership and communication skill and it’s something that can be developed as part of your preparation. Good candidates are tuned into that.

Once you are clear about what it is that you have been asked, you may want to consider a short ‘opening statement’. This is a precursor to your main answer. It’s one way to buy yourself a little bit of extra thinking time, whilst still considering your main response. An opening statement is something I encourage all candidates to consider and it’s an approach that seems to work quite well.

You can see how an opening statement might be used in the example response featured below.

Structure, Structure, STRUCTURE!

“I thrive in structure. I drown in chaos.” Anna Kendrick

Structuring your response supports a professional delivery by keeping you focused on what you are saying and the order to how you are saying it. There are various structures you can choose so the important thing is to find one that works for you. Using structure supports your confidence, which in turn helps you relax and more easily convey your appealing credentials.

Structured interview responses

The following feedback from one of my clients, David, helps demonstrate the value of using structure…

“In my board I used STRUCTURE STRUCTURE STRUCTURE. The biggest boost I felt as I walked through the door was confidence in my preparation. This allowed me to relax relatively given the situation. As I relaxed, I felt my answers flowed and I was able to display passion and commitment. I am overjoyed at having attained the rank of Inspector”

One structure you might use is ‘STAR’. It is well known and used widely. It stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It’s a commonly used aid to help ensure that your verbal responses include the necessary information the board need for scoring. STAR can be adapted, but note it doesn’t ‘fit’ all questions or scenarios, such as those which do not require an example.

Content

“By stretching yourself beyond your perceived level of confidence you accelerate your development of competence” – Michael Gelb

What you say is important. The dictionary tells us that ‘competence’ means the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. That’s what the board are looking to find out about you. Competencies communicate HOW the organisation wants people to behave in certain roles. Therefore the main ‘content’ of your responses will need to reflect the relevant competency or personal quality that each question alludes to.

This is where it pays dividends to do some homework on the frameworkyour force uses for promotion, e.g. the Policing Professional Framework (PPF), Metropolitan Leadership Framework (MLF) or the Competency and Values Framework (CVF).

I encourage my clients to not just know the framework, but also to understand it. A cursory read through is not enough. Becoming familiar with the competencies being assessed and being able to explain them, at least in summary, is a professional approach. Better performing candidates make that commitment to themselves. Once you have an understanding of the competencies, you’ll be able to verbalise and ‘make links’ to important issues including the role, mission, vision, values, adding value to your response.

Note: Some forces may provide the candidate with a hard copy of the questions at the start of the interview. Whilst that may make things easier in some respects, only well prepared candidates are likely to be able to exploit any potential this may offer.

Delivery – So what DOES an effective response look like?

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw

Using STAR as the structure, you can see what an effective response might look like in the following example. This example was used successfully as part of achieving promotion to Sergeant. It’s a Constable to Sergeant level question, where the competency being assessed is Public Service from the Policing Professional Framework (PPF).

Here’s the PPF guidance:

[Demonstrates a real belief in public service, focusing on what matters to the public and will best serve their interests. Understands the expectations, changing needs and concerns of different communities, and strives to address them. Builds public confidence by talking with people in local communities to explore their viewpoints and break down barriers between them and the police. Understands the impact and benefits of policing for different communities, and identifies the best way to deliver services to them. Develops partnerships with other agencies to deliver the best possible overall service to the public].

Here’s the question:

“Please give an example of how you have built public confidence within the communities you serve”.

Pause: Let the panel members see you are thinking about & considering the question! And deliver…

Promotion interview delivery

Opening statement: “As Temporary Sergeant I am currently responsible for chairing meetings with partners, including council officials, housing providers and youth services. I know that alleviating antisocial behaviour in communities is a key driver of public confidence”.

Situation: “An increase in complaints arose recently because youths were engaging in ASB near homes occupied by vulnerable residents requiring repeated calls for service”.

Task: “My aims were to reduce demand and restore resident’s confidence”.

Actions: “Taking into consideration available resources, I implemented a proactive operation to tackle the problem. I utilised Police Community Support Officers supported by Special Constables. I considered a local dispersal order obtained via my Inspector, allowing officers to legally remove youths from areas. I personally briefed officers, focusing upon key offenders. I instructed that reports concerning enforcement action were to be submitted so I could follow up appropriate referrals. I spoke with partners arranging for warning letters to be issued. Throughout the operation I considered victims, partners and local residents by updating them to build trust/confidence in my commitment to resolve long term problems”.

Result: “Analysis of this operation over a two month period showed a 50% reduction in calls for service. Residents acknowledged improvements individually and collectively at community meetings and further updates were published using social media for wider community impact. Utilising Special Constables for proactive policing in this way contributed to their collective duty hours being the highest across the area. My debriefing identified learning around future working practices for sharing joint agency resources more effectively, which I am currently developing”.

Insights:

  • The board may ask ‘supplementary questions’ to any main question. This is a means to ‘probe’ and get all the information required for scoring e.g. they may ask additionally, “What did you consider?” “What was the outcome?”. This can also be a way to encourage or support a nervous candidate who may have missed out some detail and who just needs a ‘nudge’ to connect with the rest of the information. The board want you to do well and this is a legitimate way help you get into your ‘flow.
  • The above is one example of what a well structured and considered response looks like. If you want to know what one sounds like and feels like, you’ll need to work through your own evidence and examples. Try it! If you don’t have any examples of your own to hand read this one out loud. Hear how you sound. Speaking normally it takes about two minutes. That’s a great start, but practising will fine tune your confidence and delivery. So don’t let Al Capone get you!

Taking Action…

All successful candidates have one thing in common: They took action.

If you are serious about preparing, why not download your very own digital guide NOW with 25+ structured examples of what works.

 

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Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team by Steve Cooper

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We have teamed up with Steve Cooper Police Promotion coach to bring you free tools and resources to help with your Police Promotion prep, Steve Cooper is one of the leading police promotion coaches in the United Kingdom.

Thanks to Steve and his company Rank Success is able to offer Police Hour readers free promotion tools that other coaches would charge you for, thanks to our great relation with Steve we are able to offer you this advice, information and valuable police promotion information and advice absolutely free of charge for the Police Hour readers looking for Police Promotion.

The focus of this exclusive editorial feature written by Steve Cooper is the ‘7 Things interview boards also look for in promotion candidates’ is knowledge of the policing environment you aspire to lead in. As a reminder, here are the 7 key traits which police promotion boards inherently value:

  1. Good awareness and understanding of vision or mission
  2. Self-aware, understanding personal values and development areas
  3. Demonstrates awareness of the current policing context
  4. A response that goes beyond the theoretical
  5. Able to evidence leadership impact in & beyond your team
  6. Well-structured and considered responses
  7. Demonstrate strong leadership skills grounded in service delivery

Thing 5: Able to Evidence Leadership Impact Within and Beyond Your Team

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

Being required to write or talk about oneself in a leadership context can be difficult. Those who can do it confidently and pro-actively and who prevail in a promotion selection process are usually those who focused beforehand on developing their ability to do this.

In simple terms, that’s it.

Enter the Dragon’s Den

“I am far more likely to invest if the founding entrepreneurs have already invested in themselves.” – Duncan Bannatyne

Dragons DenI recently coached an officer to change their perspective of the interview panel, while developing their confidence to verbalise sound responses. Initially, they thought of their impending promotion interview opportunity as a ‘Dragons Den’ experience. On this TV show, entrepreneurs enter the ‘den’ to seek investment in their business ideas. Before they do that and in order to exploit the opportunity fully, they will practice their ‘pitch’. Some clearly do it better than others, and it shows. Competence in delivering their pitch is often underpinned by weeks and days of practice beforehand to maximise potential.

In this respect, leadership expectations of Sergeants and Inspectors include leading people, leading change and managing performance. Unsurprisingly, a promotion board may ask a couple of questions about them!

The leadership impact of Sergeants is essentially focused around team effectiveness. As police forces and other organisations become ‘flatter’ in hierarchy, it is likely Sergeants will also be leading ‘beyond their authority’ as ways of working develop and change.

For leadership impact of Inspectors, expectations may stretch beyond and across force wide teams, specialist departments, partner agencies or wider afield. It may include developing and implementing plans to influence organisations.

Considered practice and effort helps get this across well in your promotion application or interview responses. A few ‘dry runs’ practising your pitch to ‘the dragons’ ahead of your opportunity will help influence and impress them! More importantly, it will boost your ability and with that, your confidence.

If that is something that sounds worthwhile and you’d like to make a meaningful start, here is one way to practice taming the dragons before you have to. Imagine this as the very first question you are asked on your promotion board:

Why you?
Image: Microsoft.com, used with permission from Microsoft

Why should anyone be led by you?

An effective response to this could easily put clear blue sea between you and other candidates. But you are unlikely to deliver an effective response without laying the foundations for it today, because it’s a hard question to answer.

Did I mention that it was a hard question? It’s probably the hardest leadership question for anyone to answer. Leadership academics Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones wrote a book with the same title. They found whenever they asked that particular question over ten years of research, often to a room of executives, the result was a sudden stunned hush. It’s difficult because it’s introspective. In order to do it and yourself justice, you have to reach inside yourself for the response.

As a promotion candidate seeking to be appointed to a formal leadership position as a Sergeant or Inspector, you might agree that whilst it is a testing question, it is also a fair one. Practice in answering this can prepare you well for any other leadership-based questions at any level of leadership.

Reality check: Nothing you have read about above matters in the slightest, if you are not taking action right now.

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart

Taking action is the one thing that will move you closer to achieving any goal. You can choose to start right now.Building foundations

  • Treat it as a question in your promotion application.
  • Grab a pencil, get to work and start constructing a response.
  • Now imagine it as the only question in your promotion interview.
  • Consider and rehearse a verbal response.

This is one good way to start laying solid foundations for your promotion success. A valuable tool you’ll need to hand is the promotion framework that you will be assessed against.

Structuring your evidence: An example (Inspector level)

Promotion to InspectorLets take the Policing Professional Framework (PPF) to look at one example of leadership impact at Sergeant to Inspector level. It was used successfully to achieve promotion to Inspector after the officer contacted me for some assistance. This example is from my downloadable guide 25+ examples of what works in promotion applications.

The PPF very helpfully divides the vast subject of police leadership into three ‘personal qualities’ (aka behaviours/competencies). Here’s the framework guidance:

Leading change: [Positive about change, adapting rapidly to changing circumstances and encouraging flexibility in others. Identifies and implements improvements to service delivery, engaging people in the change process and encouraging them to contribute ideas. Finds more cost-effective ways to do things, taking an innovative approach to solving problems and considers radical alternatives].

Leading people: [Inspires people to meet challenging goals, maintaining the momentum of change. Gives direction and states expectations clearly. Talk positively about policing creating enthusiasm and commitment. Motivates staff by giving genuine praise, highlighting success and recognising good performance. Gives honest and constructive feedback to help people understand their strengths and weaknesses. Invests time in developing people by coaching and mentoring them, providing developmental opportunities and encouraging staff to take on new responsibilities].

Managing performance: [Translates strategy into specific plans and actions, effectively managing competing priorities with available resources. Takes a planned and organised approach to achieving objectives, defining clear timescales and outcomes. Identifies opportunities to reduce costs and ensure maximum value for money is achieved. Demonstrates forward thinking, anticipating and dealing with issues before they occur. Delegates responsibilities appropriately and empowers others to make decisions. Monitor progress and holds people to account for delivery, highlighting good practice and effectively addressing under-performance].

Here is the question posed:

“Please provide an example of when your leadership has improved performance.”

And here’s the officer’s evidence:

“The Great Summer Breeze (GSB) Festival experienced a significant rise in public complaints concerning Anti Social Behaviour.

As bronze commander with a shared mission to ensure our force remains a safe place to live, work and visit, I took ownership. I talked personally to complainants and wider stakeholders. I reviewed incident reports with them to gain a better understanding of issues from their perspective. Strong views were expressed concerning criminal damage, urinating outside properties and walking through gardens. Aware that alleviating ASB in communities is a driver of public confidence, I invited affected parties to a public meeting. My aims were to reduce ASB, manage expectations and restore confidence. I addressed the group, providing information/inviting feedback. I listened. Ideas discussed included volunteering. I developed this into an action group. I secured additional local authority resources and worked with operations department to ensure police resources were targeted more effectively around demand. I developed and implemented a revised Community Policing Plan. I conducted media interviews raising awareness/reassuring the wider community. To manage the impact of changes for police/civilians, I communicated frequently, remaining accessible for contact/queries.

Police overtime savings of £4000 were realised through empowering local residents to conduct tasks, which four police officers/PCSOs had traditionally completed. This included running the community office, delivering crime prevention information and ‘community intelligence’ updates. This is now recognised good practice for GSB festival. There were no further complaints. The resident’s association praised police commitment and local confidence was successfully restored. ASB reduced by 40%.”

Insights

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The request (“Please provide an example of when your leadership has improved performance”) offers a valuable opportunity for any well-prepared candidateto evidence their leadership impact in and beyond the team.

Whether you are required to submit a written application as part of your force promotion selection process or not, structuring your evidence in this way to layout or ‘tell the story’ can help ensure it is aligned to the framework guidance provided.

As a starting point, it is imperative to answer the question, which this example does. It’s a professional response at Inspector level, demonstrated by…

  • A clear indication of strategic awareness, which is important at Inspector level e.g. shared mission, drivers of public confidence.
  • The individual’s leadership impact clearly extends to influencing partners and the wider community.
  • The importance of communicating, listening and seeking feedback whilst implementing changes is acknowledged.
  • The evidence alludes specifically to the Inspector’s role e.g. developing, implementing and reviewing plans.
  • You can clearly see/hear how the officer’s aims and the wider outcomewere achieved from the action/s described – aligned to the guidance (competence).
  • There is a strong outcome with specific results. Performance is managed and improved.

The structure used is ‘Problem > Action > Result‘ (PAR). It’s one way to structure evidence for your promotion application and/or your interview responses. It’s the structure this officer preferred to use, but you can find other structure options in my digital promotion interview guide.

Problem, Action, Result

It’s important to remember the actual content and context of the example can be any situation. This could include examples from neighbourhood policing, response, organisational change or critical incidents. The important thing is not to ramble but adhere closely to the framework guidance for top marks.

Tip: Once your evidence is drafted in this way, it can be verbalised and practised as a potential interview response.

No Guarantees

“I have no magic formula. The only way I know to win is through hard work”. – Don Shula

All of this is essentially about skills that can be developed. However, many candidates run out of time because they kick into action only when a promotion process opens. Cue panic mode! Others may simply need a bit of help pulling together the structure, polishing the final product or developing potential interview responses.

Police officers are effective at recognising evidence in investigations. It’s what they are trained to do. Unfortunately, when it comes to recognising evidencefrom operational experiences to support a promotion bid, this ability diminishes. It’s not what they are trained to do.

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

 

Coaching is one option to quickly raise your awareness and help bring relevant evidence into focus building a case for promoting you.

Alternatively, working in slower time to collate your best supporting examples and to understand your force promotion framework will assist with ‘blending in’ links with the role you aspire to. You can then consider your drafts against your force mission, vision and values. Any refinements or polish required to help you stand out can always be added from there.

This process can take months of work. So it’s not surprising that candidates like Rich, aiming for Inspector rank, like to accelerate things with a bit of help. Here’s a snippet from his last email to me:

“I managed to score 20/20 at local assessment, they knocked one mark off at moderation resulting in 19/20. Your guides obviously helped me shape my examples into exactly what they were looking for.”

I remind officers that there is no ‘magic formula’ or guarantee for success in writing a promotion application or preparing ahead of an interview board. It’s hard work, but if you need support, there are some tried and tested ways to start marshalling what you have to offer and to work smarter.

Hopscotch

“I went to a book store and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” – Steven Wright

It’s not only Sergeant and Inspector candidates who experience uncertainty when attempting to translate or align their experience to meet the criteria for promotion

Hopscotch through police promotion

Hop: When he first decided to attend a Rank Success Promotion Masterclass,Jon was a Sergeant looking to make the hop to Inspector.

Skip: He did so first time. The skip to Chief Inspector followed shortly afterwards.

Jump: Jon invested in his development again prior to successfully making the next jump to Superintendent. Here are a few words from Jon about how he chose to prepare beforehand:

“I found [the Inspector example guide] really useful to see how evidence should be structured against the PPF and provide a detailed and evidenced written response to the behaviours… also to structure my interview examples and how best to create a clear vision for what I would demonstrate and achieve in the next rank.

I particularly liked the way the guide laid out the different word count examples for example 250, 300 and 500 words and how to answer force specific questions around personal statements of what I would bring to the rank.

The guide helped me broaden my thinking and awareness for the higher rank of Superintendent. I feel it would be equally of use to those applying for Chief Inspector and Superintendent, because I have yet to see anything which gives candidates this clear advice and guidance in order to best structure their evidence to be successful in a police promotion process.”

Solid Commitment

Read more about Jon and others who successfully evidenced their leadership impact beyond their teams. All of them have two things in common. A solid personal commitment to prepare thoroughly, backed up with MASSIVE determined action.

Why not start evidencing YOUR leadership impact NOW?

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