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Police Promotion: Responding Beyond the Theoretical 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 4: A Response That Goes Beyond the Theoretical

“It’s hard to prove yourself when the substance isn’t there.” – Travis Fimmel

Asking six questions in approximately 45 minutes provides a promotion panel with a snapshot of you. That’s not a lot of time. A promotion panel can only scratch the surface of your potential as a future leader. They do this by asking questions and writing down what you say, whilst listening to how you say it.

Successful promotion candidates have better interview skills, generally resulting from dedicating more time and effort to their interview preparation than others. You need not spend too long to appreciate that promotion panels recognise well-prepared candidates, by the content and delivery of responses to the interview questions posed.

“People rarely travel far enough along the path of self development to realise their potential.” – Sir John Whitmore

I referred in ‘Thing 2’ to the potential board question:

“What have you done to develop yourself or anyone else in the last 12 months?”

Less prepared candidates may provide a superficial response, sometimes even be struggling to grasp the relevance of the question. For example, they might say, “Oh yes, I value my CPD and others around me. I often look for opportunities to learn.”

But to borrow a football analogy, this question is an open goal, a fantastic opportunity to score. Well-prepared candidates who have committed to a depth and breadth of preparation will recognise the opportunity presented and are equipped to respond more comprehensively to it.

Open goal question

So lets look below the surface at how you might prepare and equip yourself…

“If you’re wasting your time by not investing in yourself, that is the greatest waste of all.” – Richie Norton

Sharing the Same Lay-by

Qualifying for promotion often requires months, sometimes even years, of disciplined study. You might then think it unbelievable that vast cohorts of successful individuals make a conscious decision to ‘ease off’ the accelerator afterwards. They gradually grind to a halt in the months that follow, sharing the same lay-by and similar complacent thoughts:

  • “That’s the exam under my belt”.
  • “I’ve worked hard; I need and deserve a break now”.
  • “There are no promotion boards on the horizon, so I’ll give it a rest and just see what happens”.

Promotion to Sergeant and Inspector can be thought of as a ‘game of two halves’. The ‘half time’ gap between passing the exam and a promotion process arising is where traction towards achieving promotion often dissipates.

“The first step binds one to the second.” – French Proverb

Maintaining momentum via a development plan is important. Yet typically, I speak with lots officers who have done little since passing their exam. This ‘space between’ is significant, a valuable opportunity to work on becoming ‘match fit’ and once there, remain conditioned.

A Double Whammy

“While we are making up our minds as to when we shall begin, the opportunity is lost.” – Quintillian

Qualified officers are frequently under the mistaken impression that you have to have had acting or temporary supervisor experience to progress towards promotion. That is not the case. Many officers pass their promotion interviews without acting or temporary rank experience; you can see plenty of examples here.

In fact, acting or temporary experience is of limited value if you are not exploiting the learning opportunity. For example, your daily activities of attending incidents, managing resources and making decisions can be aligned to the personal qualities, competencies or behaviours you will be assessed against for the next rank.

It’s a double whammy if you are not doing this, because not only are you passing up the daily opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the role, the impact only hits when you are sat in front of the panel and realise you are out of your depth.

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops… until your promotion interview.”

OK, so I adapted the above quote a little, but you get the point.

If you are reading this now, with OSPRE in the bag and you still aspire to promotion, one action you can take right now is to ensure that you have a personal development plan; even if it’s only some purposeful reading for now.

Whether you perform acting/temporary duties or otherwise, make notes as part of your development plan. You could use the following questions to help you prepare valuable evidence, providing content for both your application and interview responses:

  • What did you deal with? – (Be specific)  – The Position or situation?
  • What was your responsibility? – (Be specific) – Your task or objective?
  • How did you do it? – (Be specific) – Your actions?
  • Why are you doing it? – (Be specific) – What’s the point?
  • What was the outcome? (Be specific) – What was better? Improved? Avoided? Learned? Changed?

This is a great way to be proactive and build momentum ahead of both a promotion selection process. When it comes to the application or board, you can then align it into a memorable and clear structure, for example Problem, Action, Result (PAR). So let’s look at a detailed example from my “25+ Examples of What Works” guide for PC to Sergeant candidates…

Structuring your evidence: An example

This evidence by a neighbourhood Constable was used successfully towards achieving promotion to Sergeant. Notice how it aligns closely with the Policing Professional Framework (PPF) for the role of Sergeant and the competency descriptor for Public Service.

Here’s the framework 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].

And here’s the officer’s evidence:

“As ‘Anytown’ Neighbourhood Team Leader (NTL), I dip sampled crimes and incident logs identifying an increase in crime and Anti Social Behaviour (ASB). My objectives were to investigate crimes and alleviate ASB to raise resident’s confidence.

To gain better understanding of underlying issues, I requested analytical work from police/council. I arranged meetings with partner/voluntary agencies to develop/implement a clear plan to improve areas, setting out responsibilities under Crime and Disorder Act. I represented the organisation at multi agency, residents and Council meetings. I ensured SMT understood the actions being taken and resources required. Community intelligence identified offenders. I directed resources to key areas to engage directly with the community, conducting surveys to identify specific issues of concern, signposting agencies where suitable. As areas were socially deprived I prioritised tasking of resources to target key locations and instigated preventative educational inputs on impact of ASB and crime to schools. I secured funding from partner agencies to install security fencing, CCTV and improved lighting/highway furniture. Due to my positive influence the local community organised a clean up operation, taking pride in improving their neighbourhoods. I respectfully challenged Housing Association Senior Managers, successfully instigating a change in policy across the region, which reduced community tension and increased public confidence. I arranged a community meeting with key representatives from Council, Housing Association and Fire Service to address specific community issues being raised, in a transparent and publicly accountable way. I arranged for media to be present to highlight positive news stories and encouraged community engagement for long-term positive outcomes.

Over a six-month period, analysis shows an overall reduction (40%) in ASB and criminal damage across Any-town. The ASB reduction is sustained. Community feedback reflected that police/council were now coordinating locally. Surveys confirm a significant increase in public confidence”.

Insight: This is an officer who clearly understands the relevant drivers of public confidence, including the effective investigation of crime, alleviating anti-social behaviour in communities and telling the public what police and partners are doing. There is a clear focus on delivering the best service possible to the community with available resources.

Partnership working

A gift to yourself

Now imagine the same officer is asked in a subsequent promotion interview:

 “Please provide an example of when you have worked in partnership to solve a community problem?” (or a variant of this question).

You can see that preparing specific evidence serves as very helpful content to practice interview responses. Even if you are not required to submit an application in your force selection process, preparing your evidence in this way is a gift to yourself.

It’s a great use of your time, allowing you to pick up insights into yourself and the process, to align your evidence to your promotion framework and importantly it’s an investment that will pay dividends because you will be more equipped to deliver informed and considered responses in the interview.

Take Action; it’s always an option.

If you found the above example helpful, why not download a digital guide NOW, for example…

  • 25+ detailed, structured examples of good evidence and what works in promotion applications
  • Bespoke ‘Guide to Passing Your Police Promotion Interview.’

Good candidates may answer the question. Better candidates are able to add context and/or make wider links. The BEST candidates as alluded to earlier, prepare gifts for themselves beforehand.

Do the work and as with James’ feedback below, you could even feel comfortable in showing the board your personality and passion, whilst delivering meaningful responses, not just theoretical! 

“Gave me a different way of thinking. I realised that I couldn’t rely on delivering evidence in a robotic and systematic way. This was fortunate as the board was not like that at all and turned into more of a conversation for which I had answers prepared…. I also felt comfortable showing my personality and passion, which I might otherwise have kept back.” – James, A/Sgt, passed Sergeants Promotion board

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



Trev Sherwood is the founder & blogger at the UK's Leading Crime & Policing News. Delivering you breaking news, insightful analysis, legislation & positive news!

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Melton Mowbray poppy day parade could be cancelled due to police cuts



One of the biggest Remembrance Sunday Parades faces being cancelled due to police cuts imposed by the Government.

Leicestershire Police have confirmed they do not have the staffing levels to be able to support the parade within Melton Mowbray happening next month.

If the parade is to go ahead as planned the Royal British Legion will be forced to pay for a private firm to marshal the route on November 12th.

Melton Mowbray is very much an active military town with the prospect of the cancellation causing anger amongst the locals

Jock Bryson aged 82 who organises parade has spoken about his devastation and shock saying ‘It’s so important to Melton that we keep holding the parade, and the atmosphere is so phenomenal with the serving and ex-serving people marching through town.’

The Melton Mowbray community are now holding raffles and bake sales in an attempt to raise money to pay for private security to attend the march.

Sadly cuts to policing have had a huge impact on Leicestershire Police there is now 500 fewer officers within the force that there was 8 years ago, simply there are not enough cops.

Leicestershire Police said that there are around 500 fewer officers in the county than there were eight years ago.

Ch Sup Andy Lee said: ‘As a force we are keen to pay our respects and remember the fallen, and at some of the larger parades there will be a visible police presence to engage with the community and maintain public safety. ‘In order to support these Remembrance Day events we need to carefully manage our resources to ensure business-as-usual continues, and that our level of service across the whole county is maintained. ‘In previous years, officers in attendance at parades have been involved in assisting with road closures and traffic management along parade routes due to the lack of formal traffic management arrangements.

‘However, this had an impact on our day-to-day operations and demands. With budget cuts and reductions in officer numbers, we have to ensure officers are deployed where the operational risk is greatest and that there is a sufficient number of officers on duty to be able to respond to any incident.

‘This is not something that we can sustain alongside making sure we are able to respond to incidents anywhere in the county.’ Jim Rawlinson, chairman of the county’s Royal British Legion, said they could still put on a parade – but it would be trimmed down. ‘It’s a national problem, but it’s just caused us to think differently about things,’ he said ‘The parades will all go on, but people will have to marshal them themselves.’



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Man arrested after hostages taken by armed man at Nuneaton Bowling Alley



Armed Police and specially trained negotiators have successfully ended a hostage situation that lasted almost four hours.

Armed Officers and Ambulance Crews responded to the major incident at the MFA Bowling Alley in Nuneaton following a vast amount of calls reporting a man with a sawn-off shotgun.

The man is believed to have taken two hostages who were both staff members within the bowling alley.

Mehdi Afshar Chief Executive of MFA Bowl confirmed that two members of his staff were being held, hostage.

It is Mehdi believe that the suspect gunman is known to one of his staff members and the relationship is either an ex-husband or boyfriend.

No customers or other staff members were hurt in the incident and were allowed to freely leave, while the suspect told many others to get the F**k out of here while screaming at his hostages it is Game Over.


The incident began just after 3pm on Sunday 22nd October when many families and children fled the scene after spotting the gunman.

Those that did not escape the scene immediately were told to leave by the gunman.  Police quickly ruled out the incident as being terror-related.

Credit: PoliceHour

The full area is on lockdown with all roads in and out of the area have been blocked and no one is allowed to leave the Nearby Odeon Cinema located next door to the bowling alley or a nearby soft play centre.

The Air Ambulance has landed near the bowling alley and has since left the location.

Video footage shows a number of armed police officers in a car park at the scene.


Warwickshire Police confirmed that they were dealing with an “ongoing incident” however while the incident was ongoing they did not confirm the nature of the incident.

Once the incident had concluded police confirmed that the man had been arrested and two hostages had been released uninjured.

Moments before the incident ended flash bangs were seen and heard before armed officers moved in and very quickly the suspect was arrested before being placed in the back of an ambulance which left the scene on blue lights and under a police escort.

A Spokesperson for Warwickshire Police confirmed the suspect had now been arrested and the situation was over.

“Specialist firearms officers and police negotiators, along with fire, ambulance and police air services, attended the location at the bowling alley in St David’s Way, Bermuda Park. A man has been arrested and is in police custody.

“Members of public at the bowling alley and neighbouring properties were evacuated to safety and nobody was injured during the incident.

“Warwickshire Police Chief Superintendent Alex Franklin-Smith said: “We would like to thank local people for their patience and cooperation while officers dealt with this incident. We are pleased that we were able to bring this incident to a peaceful resolution and that there were no injuries. I would like to reassure the Nuneaton community that the incident is unconnected to any terrorist activity.”




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Warning over exploding paw patrol soap after boy three in intensive care bath bomb exploded



Three-year-old boy is currently in a critical condition after a canister of Paw Patrol bath foam exploded while he was having a bath

The product has not been recalled, however, we would urge all parents to think twice when thinking about using this product.

The little tot is currently being cared for at Belfast’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children last night.

The little boy has burns to the outside and inside of his body, it is believed he was in the bath with his Paw Patrol Foam soap and it suddenly exploded.

The boy who has not been named was rushed to hospital on blue lights in a critical condition.

A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said the little boy is “in the children’s intensive care unit and his condition is critical”.

Nickelodeon confirmed that they had heard about the incident and that they were investigating the matter.

Confirming “We are terribly sorry to hear about this dreadful incident and we are gathering more information about the licensed product involved.”

Paw Patrol is an animated TV programme that is broadcast on Nickelodeon and is popular with kids and features six rescue dogs.

But they did not say whether or not the product would be withdrawn from sale.

You can buy the bath foam at a range of high street shops.



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