Professional placement case studies

Are you considering offering professional placements in your organisation to police officers? Read the case studies to help you understand more about the benefits.

Barnet.png Emergency Police Response Team C at Barnet Borough had been proactively looking at ways in which to enhance their leadership skills and empower staff to ensure a smarter, more efficient work force.

 As part of a range of ideas Insp Gulam-Husen began liaising with a Senior Manager from John Lewis, Brent Cross to proactively seek a developmental day for the Supervisors on her team, to share experiences of management. Over a period of a few months Insp Gulam-Husen and the Senior Manager for Business Protection, Systems & Finance from John Lewis, Brent Cross agreed aims and objectives and planned an interesting programme for the staff over two days. One day was spent working jointly at John Lewis and the other at Colindale Police Station.

Insp Gulam-Husen even invited along her OCU Commander who spent some time with the store manager. Staff on both side gained a lot for the two days and brought back some ideas that they are already implementing. Strong relationship have been developed that will be built on again benefiting both sides.

To help colleagues arrange similar insights PS Michael Richards has put together a guide.

A comment from John Lewis Section Manager Dan Fraser captured the learning out of the day: "It was remarkable to see the parallel of how similar the challenges are for both businesses."

SimonParkes.jpg Simon Parkes thought that exposure to the security, risk and crisis function of a large multi-national company would give him access to a business outside of law enforcement but where parallels to policing could be drawn. For him, two weeks with a company on a tailored programme was to be a learning and development experience which far exceeded any managerial course he had undertaken.

People learn differently. For me, two weeks with a company on a tailored programme was to be a learning and development experience which far exceeded any managerial course I have undertaken.

My insight took the form of 16 one-to-one meetings, attendance at a senior management team meetings, field and site visits, exposure to the security operation supporting the AGM and critiquing a hijack exercise.

I spent 90 minutes with an Executive Vice President. It was difficult not to be struck by his humility and absence of ego. Not for the first time, I registered that humility is possibly the most underrated attribute but one of the most powerful behaviours. His compassion for his employees was striking, saying: "We hurt 385 of our people last year." I was repeatedly told that near misses represent golden opportunities.

I sat in a senior management team meeting. A complete morning was dedicated to identifying members of their teams with the ability and credibility to move up through the company. Succession planning processes require that senior leaders identify immediate replacements and those with the potential to occupy posts within two years, between three and five years and more than six years.

In June I was asked to feedback on the company's response to a hijacking by observing a table-top exercise where the command machinery was stood up and stress tested. The primary objective and clear focus was the safe recovery of staff. If profit and loss featured in operational decision making I saw no evidence of it.

I could not have been more appreciative of the two week window into the workings of the company. Was it worth it? Definitely.

Simon's host offers his view.

My initial motivation was to help senior officers from within my former service, although we gained much more through the experience than I would have envisaged.

I received positive feedback from those that Simon talked to, many of whom had gone on to reflect on the discussion and challenge previous assumptions. This fresh perspective and testing of any 'group think' was of real benefit.

So too were his insights. At the end of his internship, Simon offered me thoughts and ideas on the value he could take back and implement into the policing model, but also where it could enhance our own delivery.

Overall, he stressed how much the learning experience has benefited his personal development – perhaps more so than conventional classroom teaching. This is very much consistent with BP's ethos, which adopts a range of experiential approaches as part of blending learning.

coop.png VikiCrorken.jpg Viki Crorken is an inspector with Lancashire Constabulary and began a nine month secondment to the Co-operative Group in September 2017. Victoria has taken on the role of National Business Crime Partnership Lead and is working from Co-Op HQ in Manchester. She is engaging with and influencing the Home Office, Police Service, British Retail Crime Consortium and others to support innovative ideas that drive the Co-ops vision of safer, stronger communities.

For Victoria it is a great opportunity to really understand the retails sectors approach to crime, develop business acumen and build a strong network outside policing. In return the Co- operative Group are able to exploit Victoria extensive policing experience to drive forward their own business aims.

Victoria explains that 'This is an amazing opportunity to test my skills in a new sector, learn new skills, develop a new network and bring all that into policing'.

Nationwide.jpg ConwayDuncan.png Conway Duncan is a Superintendent from Wiltshire Police who has a varied and interesting police back ground. He started a nine month secondment at a project manager at Nationwide Building Society HQ, Swindon in September 2017 where he is working within Compliance & Financial Crime area of the Transformation Team.

During his secondment Conway will build up significant project management skills, business acumen, a detailed understanding of the financial sector's approach to crime and he will develop a valuable network outside policing. In addition, Nationwide are keen to exploit Conway's policing leadership, skills and network and they will be involving him in staff development, but also giving him opportunities to explore other areas of Nationwide's business.

"I was pleasantly surprised to find that Nationwide is a values based and led organisation with their core purpose being to, 'build society, nationwide'. As my force is also values based I felt right at home. Although it is a steep learning curve and there is a lot to 'get my head around', I am really enjoying the challenge of learning new things in a new and dynamic environment. This has been helped immensely by the Nationwide project and leadership teams welcoming me with open arms and also being very supportive.

Some of the learning I have identified already, include:

  • Gaining an insight into how commercial decisions are balanced with organisational values.
  • Project and Change Management skills and practices such as:
    • Stakeholder involvement and management
    • Change communication and engagement
    • Leading with influence and persuasion across teams and business areas. 
  • Lessons from the business transformation programmes and mergers that Nationwide have undertaken.
  • Navigating and leading in an ever increasingly complex, dynamic and changing environment.

I would highly recommend that Police Forces and colleagues take advantage of Professional Placements as they greatly benefit the individual, the force and the host organisation. "

Peter Lear Head of Transformation for Risk and Compliance at the society said;

"Conway is already making a difference within the project team, his leadership style, patience and inquisitive nature are immediately evident and have helped the team consider different perspectives around the work that we do. It's certainly not a one way street, and we are learning from his professional skills all the time.

It's great to see that the culture we hold so dear within the society is so tangible to someone from outside the organisation, we've also discovered that we share many of the same challenges as the Police when it comes to meeting the diverse needs of our members, maintain colleague morale and managing within finite resources.

The early signs are very promising, that the professional placement will meet its objectives of benefitting Conway, Nationwide and the Police."

Superintendent Gavin Williams, Head or organisational development, Wiltshire Police, is Conway's key force contact.  

"This placement is an important part of Conway's development and a significant investment for the force. Keeping in regular contact with Conway and Peter is absolutely vital. As the key force contact I have three roles. Firstly I check the placement is working for Conway, Nationwide and the force. Second I keep Conway well connected with the force and he is shadowing my senior officer on-call rota. Finally we are only about six weeks into Conway's placement, but we are already working together to plan Conway's return to force to ensure that his new skills and experience are maximised.  Peter has been really helpful and is shaping Conway's role to give him exposure in areas wider than his specific role."

Tor Garnett Tor Garnett is a Detective Superintendent from the Met Police. In Sept 2017 she began a year on secondment. Her initial placement is to BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, the cyber security arm of the defence Group.


‘I’m now 6 weeks into my secondment and it has been eye opening! I am working in their Innovation Team who are tasked with investigating market disruptors and identifying propositions that have the potential to generate significant revenue in 10 years time. In an industry that rapidly changes, how they are doing that in incredibly tight timescales and the methods they are using to communicate with their people has meant I’ve already learnt a lot. The secondment is fully funded by BAE Systems and I hope that I have added some value back too by sharing some of my past practical experience of leading innovation and teams determined to deliver continuous improvement in the Met.

I miss the day job – I’m not in a leadership role, the adrenaline and pace is different and it is strange (but very good for me) that I don’t know all the acronyms! It is refreshingly challenging and humbling to be ‘on the other side’ in a commercial business – delivering efficiency savings in policing is really difficult but so is remaining competitive in a fast changing world.

I wanted to do a placement in an IT / tech business that has significant experience of delivering government contracts as I feel it is critical, if I am to make good decisions as a senior police leader, that I have some commercial understanding and can see how and when it works well and the underlying factors on both sides when it doesn’t.

I think the College of Policing’s Professional Placement scheme is a brilliant innovation in terms of Workforce Futures and I really hope it becomes widely adopted.’

Tracy LeesTracy Lees, a service improvement officer from Derbyshire Constabulary, developed a series of professional placements into a local engineering company, Klime-Ezee. Around 60 officers and staff, including the chief constable, have visited the company for an insight and PS Adam Wilkins spent a week there before returning to lead the forces first 'Lean Team'.

"I have known Ashley Bailey the owner of Klime-Ezee, for a long time and about five years ago Ash began working with Paul Akers, the author of a book called 2 Second Lean, to transform his company.  This got me thinking about how the force could keep delivering a good service as we faced financial challenges so I asked him if I could bring a few colleagues to meet him at his factory and see how this type of Lean works.

I took along a few colleagues and we spent a morning with Ash and his team. Everyone was impressed with how the whole factory spent time every morning '3 S-ing' (sweep, sort and standardise) and making 2 second improvements or 'fixing what bugs you'.  This was followed by about 15 minutes focusing on mistakes made and what has been done to prevent recurrence, plus any 2 second improvements made that day.  What really impressed everyone was the way every team member, and especially the new ones, had a voice. We all came back buzzing with ideas.

I knew there were things we could learn from Klime-Ezee. I knew that there were many areas within the force where people knew how to improve things for very little cost or effort, but they just did not feel that they has 'permission' to do it. So I set about convincing my bosses to allow me to arrange visits for other colleagues.  I then began organising visits for a wide variety of colleagues around the force.  

People come back from the visits thinking that they can make small changes that will make a difference. They tell others, and lots of small improvements means a better service. Of course the force has now invested in a small 'Lean team' to help grow this idea.

Adam Wilkins, the team's first member, spent a week with Klime-Ezee focused on learning from Ash and his team and is bringing new ideas and approaches back into the force. I am really looking forward to see how this develops."

To find out more please email Tracy Lees

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