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New executive leadership programme to replace strategic command course

Published on 15 December 2022
We’re making changes to how officers and staff progress to senior ranks in the police service.
3 mins read
Police officers

The strategic command course (SCC) and senior police national assessment centre (SPNAC) are being replaced with the police leadership programme – stage 5 (executive leaders) in 2023.

What's changing

The updated programme takes place over 12 months. It gives executive leaders from policing and partner agencies the chance to learn from world-class experts in leadership.

The programme uses a blended learning approach, including short residentials, day events, remote learning and experiential learning in role. This is supported by ongoing assessment.

The programme focuses on professional development in line with national chief officer leadership standards and role profiles.

Applicants for the executive leadership programme will need to submit a portfolio of evidence. This replaces the senior police national assessment centre (SPNAC).

What you can expect


Entry onto the programme is based on a portfolio of evidence. This should demonstrate readiness for this next stage of development towards becoming a chief officer.

Portfolios will be assessed by both the candidate’s chief constable and the College of Policing. 

Portfolios are continually developed throughout the programme, to support any future chief officer role applications.  

Course content

The first module acts as a development centre. Here, we work with delegates to identify and understand their strengths and development areas in a supportive and immersive learning environment.

Delegates will work with a coach throughout the rest of programme to focus on these areas.

    Who the changes affect

    The changes affect anyone aspiring to be a chief officer. This includes those at a rank of superintendent or equivalent who have the potential to lead at the most senior levels.

    Applications for the new programme

    The first cohort of the police leadership programme – stage 5 (executive leaders) is expected to start in June 2023. 

    Entry onto the programme is based on a portfolio of evidence. Candidates wishing to apply for the programme's first cohort must submit their portfolio by the end of March 2023.

    We are not running any further SPNACs or accepting any new delegates for the SCC.

    Current chief officer appointments

    Until the launch of the police leadership programme – stage 5 in June 2023, candidates eligible for appointment are those that have passed both the SPNAC and the SCC. 

    New guidance and standards for chief officer appointments are being developed. These will be published alongside the launch of the updated programme.

    All assistant chief constable/commander vacancies should continue to be advertised in the usual way for the remainder of 2022.

    Why the changes are being made 

    Our senior policing leaders play a crucial part in building a more diverse police force that:

    • is supportive and inclusive at every level
    • values professional development, innovation and learning  

    We continuously review and update our training and assessment. This ensures it meets the needs of the service and the evolving policing environment. 

    We also know there is an urgent and important need to improve the diversity and volume of chief officers. 

    We commissioned an independent review into the support and training available for chief officer development and progression. This involved superintendents, chiefs officers, senior police staff and wider policing stakeholders, to capture their views.

    During the review, we were told that individuals who would make excellent chief officers do not always apply for SPNAC or feel supported to progress. This means we’re losing important talent from our most senior ranks. There was also recognition that potential chief officers self-opt out of the progression pathway. This is usually either due to accessibility challenges or concerns around attending the SPNAC and the SCC.

    Our new police leadership programme aims to address these issues by:

    • providing more flexibility for candidates, with two cohorts running throughout the year
    • enabling individuals to identify, understand and improve their personal development areas
    • supporting aspiring chief officers to build a portfolio of evidence against a range of criteria, to show their readiness for the programme

    Find out more

    We are running a series of information events in January 2023. These are for prospective delegates and all those who support leadership development in force. 

    Information for candidates – Wednesday 1 February, 1:30pm to 4pm

    This event is for police officers and police staff interested in progressing to chief officer in the next few years.

    This online information session will explain how the process will work and help you to prepare a portfolio.

    Learning and development leads – Tuesday 31 January, 10am to midday

    An online information session that will:

    • explain how the process will work
    • help you to answer any questions from those in your force who are interested in taking part.

    Chief constables and deputy chief constables – Tuesday 7 February, 3pm to 5pm

    We will be running a CPD session on portfolio assessment for chief constables.

    If you have questions about how these changes impact you and your colleagues, please get in touch.

    Get in touch

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