In focus: what it was like to do the Strategic Command Course

Future leaders of police talk about their experience of taking the course

Chief Superintendent Liane James from South Wales Police; senior staff member Aimee Reed from the Metropolitan Police Service and Chief Superintendent Mike Colbourne from Bedfordshire Police talk about their experience on our Strategic Command Course (SCC).

The SCC is open to superintendents, chief superintendents and police staff equivalents who have shown the potential to progress further in their careers, preparing them for promotion to the most senior positions.

It is a statutory requirement for officers seeking promotion to assistant chief constable and above.

Chief Superintendent Liane James from South Wales Police

The Strategic Command Course has always been the pinnacle for many in policing and I was so proud to have reached this point in my career. I was not disappointed. The course, in its new modular format, was meticulously planned by the College of Policing team and a demanding test from start to finish with four pass or fail elements.

The evidence base for the production of the course was clear to see. Having undertaken a significant period of temporary assistant chief constable duties, the content of the course truly reflects the reality of the role, making the future transition easier.

The inputs received varied in content and style with the great and the good from policing and beyond attending. Each element created significant learning, discussion and challenge. I personally felt privileged that policing had invested such significant time, effort and investment in my future career.

It was certainly the most challenging yet enjoyable course I have ever undertaken. One important aspect are the friendships and bonds you make with fellow delegates across a broad cross-section of the public sector. My 'phone a friend' list has certainly grown and we have already made contact with each other.

Senior staff member Aimee Reed from the Metropolitan Police Service

As a member of police staff from a specialist area, taking on some of the more traditional officer roles might have been quite daunting. The course and syndicate directors and my SCC colleagues actively encouraged non-officers to push ourselves into these areas. The first module, which assessed delegates in the role of strategic command, proved to be my favourite, despite an (unfounded) concern that a public order or firearms background would be an essential pre-requisite. Spending the day working with public sector partners (local government, army, fire brigade) as our force area was under siege from floods and rivers of fire and briefing the "Prime Minister on the phone from COBR" was a confidence-boosting experience for me and a chance for delegates to draw on each other's experience and knowledge. The early revelation that everyone, without exception, had gaps in knowledge and previous experience created a collegiate atmosphere which grew in strength as the course progressed.

Personally, I took much from the course that challenged and expanded my thinking. Understanding leadership through studying Macbeth, being challenged and tested as individuals and syndicates on ethics, values and the impact of leadership on staff morale and well-being were all particularly enlightening. There will be genuine opportunities to apply the learning from many of the high-profile speakers across the course.

The course gave me the confidence and grounding to step out of my current role and apply the learning from the business, leadership and partnership modules. I now have a fantastic opportunity to apply my new-found skills and knowledge in a six-month attachment to the next phase of MPS change. This is a tremendously exciting challenge and one for which the course content is directly relevant.

The richness of the SCC experience is built on the people involved, whether delegates, directing staff or presenters. In particular, the SCC offered an opportunity to build an international network of exceptional police professionals.

The whole experience was brilliant; truly thought provoking and a great chance to make some new friends across policing.

Chief Superintendent Mike Colbourne from Bedfordshire Police

The SCC 2015 was designed to develop senior leaders in policing to be able to address the considerable challenges facing policing in the UK, today and into the future.

I was supported, tested and encouraged on the SCC to lead the workforce and to manage strategic change. These areas of competence are incredibly important for us as we wrestle with reduced resources and unleashing the potential of colleagues to be creative and to experiment with ‘what works’, in what must be a culture of learning and support in our organisations.

The chance to listen to and to question leaders from policing, academia and other sectors, enabled me to think more deeply and also more widely about how we are doing business and how we can perform better. But the course also, quite rightly reflected not just what we are doing in our professional practise as leaders, but also why and how we do what we do.

Ethics of and trust in policing were examined closely, with invaluable lessons being learned from the courage and experience of inspirational police leaders. Working with and learning from peers was also immensely enjoyable and rewarding. The perspectives that I gained, from leadership being delivered by colleagues across the criminal justice sector in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and indeed internationally, have been unique.

I have always sought out opportunities to help people and to learn. Policing has given me the experience and inspiration to achieve and to ‘serve to lead’, and the SCC has equipped me to seek to be the best that I can be, and to guide me in transforming policing to improve staff morale and to secure the confidence of our communities.

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