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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Police Inspector – A Strategic Perspective

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“You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.” – Leon Trotsky

The role of a police inspector includes a strategic dimension, which sergeants aiming for promotion to the next rank often overlook.

In reviewing draft promotion applications, I notice that many aspiring sergeants have compiled good sergeant-level evidence! The strategic aspect for inspector’s work is missing, for example:

  • Developing and implementing plans
  • Identifying and managing operational threats and risks
  • Allocating work and monitoring quality and progress

So what does this ‘strategic aspect’ mean to you? What are your thoughts about it? It’s definitely worth thinking about it ahead of any current or future promotion opportunity.

Look Under Your Nose

“To see what is under one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” – George Orwell

If you are looking for guidance, look no further. It’s right under your nose. However, it’s not always recognised or understood by promotion candidates, who usually rush to collate their promotion application evidence upon learning of an impending submission deadline.

Officers in forces that are not required to compile an application may instead be ‘recommended’ for promotion. However, they then sit back to wait a board date without applying their minds to interpretation of existing guidance.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Police Inspectors strategic view

Promotion frameworks provide initial signposting, direction and support and no more. If you require any further assistance, here is the College of Policing’s (COP) guidance:

“It is expected individuals will use professional judgement to assess the complexity and suitability of any evidence provided against the framework.”

In short you’ll need to marshal and compile your inspector promotion evidence and then think about a couple of extra things:

  • Level: Is it at level 2 of the Competency and Values Framework (CVF)? Is it also geared towards the level of expectation for an inspector?
  • Complexity: As highlighted in the COP guidance above, you’ll need to also assess the ‘complexity’ of any evidence provided. So what does that mean?

Complexity tends to characterise something as having many parts. Intuitively, your evidence will be complex if more connections can be distinguished. In your bid for promotion, avoid providing simple or very basic evidence. With some additional effort and thought, you can include links to policing priorities and clear behaviours of the rank you aspire to.

Available guidance is hidden in plain sight in your force candidate instructions and in your promotion assessment framework e.g. CVF/PPF. You’ll find descriptors for each of the expected behaviours. Some of these provide clear insight into strategic aspects of the inspector role. Here are some examples at Level 2 within the CVF:

  • We Deliver, Support and Inspire: ‘I keep track of changes in the external environment, anticipating both the short and long term implications for the police service.’
  • We Analyse Critically: ‘I think about different perspectives and motivations when reviewing information and how this may influence key points.’
  • We are Innovative and Open Minded: ‘I am able to spotopportunities or threats which may influence how I go about my job in the future by using knowledge of trends, new thinking about policing and changing demographics.’

The Policing Professional Framework (PPF) also hints at the role’s strategic responsibilities in the personal quality ‘Managing Performance‘, with: ‘Translates strategy into specific plans and actions, effectively managing competing priorities with available resources’.

The interpretation of framework guidance and aligning any evidence you may have to the behaviours is down to your own judgement.

If you would like more food for thought, take a look at the key accountabilities, skills and other information on the inspector’s role published by the College of Policing.

Going Up…

“Strategic thinking rarely occurs spontaneously.” – Michael Porter

Lift to inspector

Strategic thinking and perspectives change the higher up the rank structure or organisation you go. As a sergeant aiming for promotion to inspector, being able to verbally draw and make links between your force strategic policing plans and your local policing activity is a great start.

The management of resources e.g. people, money, time and equipment, is clearly part of the Inspector’s role responsibilities.

“As a newly promoted inspector, how will you use resources effectively to support public confidence?”

You can predict questions like this and others ahead of a promotion interview and start to prepare and practice your responses, emphasising strategic aspects of how you have been worked. The following may provide you with some food for thought:

  • One attribute distinguishing strategic leaders in public service is recognising that what has made them successful to date does not guarantee future success.
  • Strategy is usually distinguished from tactics.
  • Strategic means taking an interest in your force and the police service as a whole, not just your own department, area or unit.
  • Strategic awareness can be demonstrated by linking outcomes (end result, final product, consequence, or conclusion) of your examples to benefits for the force, e.g. how did your actions benefit staff or the wider community or contribute to performance? Alternatively what processes were improved as a result of your actions? Where did you add value? How have YOU contributed directly to force policing priorities, to improvements across other departments, or perhaps a change you made has been implemented as good practice elsewhere?
  • Strategic means a leader who does less him/herself and more through others.
  • There is a distinction when the role of leader changes from influencing individuals to influencing organisations.
  • Improving delegation skills/ability within the role function is a way of working more strategically.
  • Strategic also means a person operating within longer time horizons, e.g. ‘developing and implementing plans’ may take months to achieve. Alluding to short, medium or longer- scale performance aims also demonstrates strategic awareness as does building in milestones and reviews.

These are just some of the aspects and considerations that can really help to elevate evidence from the level of a good sergeant to that of a great inspector!

Take Action!

If you found this blog helpful and you’d like more tips and guidance on effective promotion preparation, why not download a FREE GUIDE: ‘7 Things Promotion Boards Also Look For’ to help you on your way? You can also use code POLICEHOUR20 at checkout, to save 20% on any Rank Success digital promotion guides or bundles.

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Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper writes expert promotion content to support the development of UK police officers.

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