In Focus: A frontline officer tells how it is

This article is from the February 2014 edition of the College newsletter.

‚ÄčWe have introduced Frontline Champions who are all based in forces and are a key link between the College and the front line.

Frontline Champion for Cheshire, PC Dan Reynolds, shares his perspective about the College of Policing and the challenges ahead.

"There is so much pressure on the front line at the moment, there is scant time to keep up to speed on the key issues affecting local policing, let alone policing nationally.

"For many frontline officers, changes to national policing structures feature very low on the list of priorities - I'm often more absorbed by what's happening in my area and looking after my own area of work.

"The impact of force restructures and officers taking on ever more complex work means we have to make choices about what we focus on and how we manage our time, and the truth is that the College hasn't yet flagged as a priority for many of us.

"Having now had the opportunity to learn more about the College, I can see that there is huge potential and untapped value for it to support the frontline, especially in the light of the changes the service has gone through recently.

"My own experience is that austerity means less of us doing a more complex and busier role. This is true for many colleagues around the service, with many forces cutting their number of specialists and increasing their number of generalist officers, so we all have to know more and have a very diverse skill set. 

"Officers and staff need the right information quickly and, if the College can provide that, it will become embedded into the service and be a real asset. The College should become the 'Google' of the police world, which is used and trusted because it works, it's easy and it gives the right answers.

"The College can help us be more consistent as a service, helping us all to deliver a higher standard of service to the public. In my previous career, I worked in a franchise which had stores all over the world and while there were local differences, the overall product to the customer was the same. If the College can do the same for policing, setting the training and the standards required to be delivered locally, the public would of course benefit because there would be more consistency. Officers and staff would benefit too because we could work better together and get our training nationally recognised not just within policing but beyond the service.

"If the standards we are to deliver are clear to everyone, we will have greater clarity around how people are developed. In my experience, the professional development and promotions process depends on the individual to drive it, can be confusing and may be seen by some as unfair. It is often misunderstood and as a result misses talented colleagues.

"Structured personal development stops at the end of completion of the initial IPLDP training and afterwards is dependent on the individual officer knowing what to do next. My own experience is that, when people don't feel like they are developing, they get frustrated and some choose to leave as a result. In the private sector, hard work and talent are recognised, rewarded and promoted, following a clear development plan, and I think we would all want the same for the police service too.

"My perception of the College before working with the organisation is that it is distant - akin to HMIC or the Home Office - in that it is part of policing but has very little relevance to day-to-day work. The challenge for the College is to engage at the grassroots level so that it adds value to us all and is recognised as the body which is here to support and develop every member of the workforce.

"This is where people like me come in, to ensure that officers and staff understand the benefits and how the College can make a real difference to our work. The Frontline Champion role is a new one but it is the first time anything like this has been done to engage with the front line about the issues that matter to us.

"The role is not just about discussing the work that the College is doing with colleagues in force, but taking their views back so that the College understands our concerns and suggestions. Although I've only been in the role a short time, the signs are that the College is listening.

"It is a really exciting and challenging time for the police, and we all have an opportunity to work with the College of Policing to help shape our future. 

"If we can get to the point where it is known as the 'go-to' place for all things policing and is used by all in the profession, then that will be a very positive achievement."

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