Police Promotion: Awareness of Policing Context by Steve Cooper

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 3: Demonstrates Awareness of the Current Policing Context

“Awareness is like the sun, when it shines on things they are transformed.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

A Gift

Gift promotion questions

To be able to venture confidently beyond theoretical aspects of the role in your interview responses, it is helpful to have a solid knowledge of force issues and wider policing priorities.

“What challenges do you see to becoming an effective Sergeant/Inspector?”

Questions asked by a promotion board don’t really come any easier. In fact, that one should be wrapped up as a present. If you are well read and you know the role, questions like this are a gift.

Public expectation and scrutiny, technological developments, changing crime types and complexity of demand are a few challenges you might mention. There may also be some personal adjustment as you develop in transitioning to a new supervisor, manager and leader.

“How would you summarise what is going on in policing today?”

That’s a question I might initially ask to ascertain awareness. “Austerity” is the most common initial response but the question serves well as a ‘snapshot’ of an individual’s awareness.

“I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.” – Mark Twain

The point is if you include some reading, thinking as preparation on this ahead of a promotion opportunity you’ll elevate your awareness and competence.

Inspectors are expected to demonstrate more strategic awareness, so considering and thinking through issues from a force-wide, regional and also a national perspective is good preparation. Here’s another couple of questions to get you forward focused.

“If we promote you today what will you do? How will you do it?”

You won’t be asked these questions directly, but you may find them helpful to get you ‘focused forward’ on the contribution you see yourself making as Sergeant or Inspector and to demonstrate and reflect your understanding of the role in delivering service.

Good News

“Good luck is a residue of preparation.” – Jack Youngblood

There is some good news! Many resources to raise your awareness and support your promotion preparation are free or available at very little cost.

Here are a few options:

Polcing Vision 2025

I could list more options but if you haven’t decided to take action by now, you can probably start to appreciate just how easy it can be for a promotion panel to pick up on the difference between well-prepared candidates and others.


“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it, than we do from learning the answer itself.” – Lloyd Alexander

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a combination of approaches; ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth. Candidates who approach promotion seriously will have a CPD plan, a tangible commitment to learning and be improving.

It may include academic study; a plan to acquire desired or required skills or your development plan for promotion!

You may not be aware (many candidates are still not) that the College of Policing’s leadership review recommended all existing leaders take responsibility for their personal development.

If you were not aware and even if you are, you now have some resources above (and below) to make a start!

Good, Better, Best…

Good candidates may make some links to relevant issues. Better candidates will demonstrate a good awarGood better besteness of priorities and make clear links. The best candidates can demonstrate a sound knowledge of current policing context through reflecting a good understanding of the different functions of the role in delivering service.

Please keep following Police Hour for Steve Cooper’s latest Police Promotion feature, offering you the best advice, context and information for free just for the Police Hour Readers. 

If you would like to speak to Steve Cooper or download his free advice and tools please click here 

Enjoyed this article?

Then please consider following us on on Twitter or Instagram For the latest crime and policing news.