Lord Paul Bew on delivering core policing values - leadership and accountability
The College of Policing has hosted the annual Newsam Memorial lecture focused on accountability and leadership in policing.
Lord Paul Bew, chair of the Committee for Standards in Public Life, was the guest speaker at the lecture, the first to be hosted by us.
The lecture, held at the Royal Society, came as the Committee for Standards in Public Life published written responses to its inquiry into local policing – leadership, ethics and accountability’. The inquiry is looking at the roles and powers of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, Chief Constables and Police and Crime Panels.
It’s the first time the committee has looked in any detail at policing.
As part of his speech Lord Bew said:
“Public trust and legitimacy are fundamental to the British system of policing by consent, which is based on public cooperation rather than fear. The police rely on this trust to function effectively.”
He said the public are quite clear on what the ethical standards should be and are consistent in their expectation that those in public life should abide by them. Year on year, the public have affirmed that the definition of standards set out in the Seven Principles of Public Life are still relevant and should continue to apply.
“But translating them into everyday practical action is the hard bit particularly for police officers on the ground facing complex ethical situations – taking decisions that can have a significant impact on people’s lives, often made in situations of high tension and with incomplete information.
“The new Policing Code of Ethics is very much to be welcomed. But the Committee has always said that principles and codes can only go so far. They are simply pieces of paper if they are not recognised as both legitimate and relevant to the day to day work of those expected to be living by them.”
Chair of the College of Policing board, Professor Dame Shirley Pearce, said:
“If we are serious about raising standards of professionalism in policing we need to support each person working in policing to have the confidence to deliver their individual responsibility to the integrity of the overall profession. They need to have the confidence to challenge when they see things they believe to be wrong or when evidence of ‘what works’ suggests current practice ought to be changed. This has implications for police leadership and in conducting the review of leadership we have heard from a wide range of people. They include members of the Committee on Standards in Public Life as well as figures from business, banking, academia, public services, and the military. What has struck me first and foremost is the need for leaders who can inspire and empower others and create a shared purpose. The age of deference, where ‘command and control’ is the default style, is considered to be well and truly over for successful leaders.
“All agreed that effective leaders must inspire and motivate people to work collaboratively towards a shared purpose. Good leaders are needed at every level in an organisation. They must listen to others, actively encourage challenge and welcome difference, create space for reflection, and think about the health and wellbeing of their staff as well as the organisation. “They must create teams that work together well recognising the importance of values and how people operate as well as what they deliver.”
Lord Bew's speech is also available to read in full.