Wednesday, 3 August 2011

More on Supervision and Promotion

One of my PCs is taking the Part 2 Promotion exam. He is not a bad lad and if he passes I will recommend him for promotion next year, not now. Today he showed me one of the Part 2 practice papers. Looking at the problem and the marking sheet I think I would have failed it.

The scenario is this: the Superintendent has been to a community meeting on a local sink estate. The residents are up in arms as burglary and auto crime are up 45% and local youths are believed to be responsible. The meeting is largely attended by the elderly residents who are frightened and were unaware they had a local beat officer. Following the meeting, the Superintendent issued a memorandum stating that proactive patrols of the estate will take place by a number of other officers from various departments and they will be targeting the local youths.

The local beat officer has 15 years service and he has worked on this estate for three years. He is focused on improving relations between the police and young people on the estate. He rarely makes arrests. He has written to the Superintendent asking him to stop the additional patrols as this will alienate the police from young people. The Superintendent has told his Inspector the patrols will continue and to deal with the officer. As a newly promoted sergeant you have been asked to speak to him.

My thoughts were:
1. Tell him not to write to Superintendent without going through supervisor.
2. He has worked this beat for 3 years. What intelligence has he gathered? Who does he think has been committing these offences? What has he done about the suspects? What support and help does he need to deal with them? How can these additional patrols/resources be used to help tackle the offenders without alienating innocent young people?
3. Why is he focused on good relations with young people on the estate? What has he done to engage with other residents and the more elderly/ vulnerable?
4. Why wasn't he at the community meeting the Superintendent attended?
6. What is his arrest record? Why has he made so few arrests?
6. Does he want to be a police officer or a youth worker?
7. Action plan. Monitor performance regarding the crime problem, intelligence, arrests etc. If no improvement move to unsatisfactory performance procedure.

The specimen answers included 1. and 3. and then said thank him for all his good work as a beat officer and tell him an action plan would be considered if he doesn't improve. Nothing about 2. (too challenging perhaps?) And no mention of his poor arrest record.

Is this why we are producing airy fairy supervisors without the balls to challenge or deal with poor performers?


  1. It is difficult to think that these things are entirely unrelated...

    Exams are not a good way to assess this kind of capability anyway.

  2. 1 and 3 are the most obvious answers, but as you suggest this focus on the beat officer being a social worker is misinterpreting the reason for him/her doing his job. It is to know what is happening on the ground, an overt intelligence gatherer who can note trends and help to inform effective targeting of offenders. It is in my eyes, if done properly, one of the most important police roles - building up a detailed knowledge of an area, its problems, and its villains. It requires dedication though, and the role can sometimes attract lower quality officers for the wrong reasons.


  3. Right lets get this into perspective I agree that praising good work is needed sometimes and also agree that if he has been working on the ground with the local kids on the estate is to build some respect and find out what is going on. The key element is not what his arrest record is, its to challenge what information he can provide. Lets face it it's really not difficult to provide figures for arrests and proactively police but why would he think that extra patrols would undo his good work. Call me old fashioned but some of these estates need to be targeted as they think 'they run the manner'. Some people these days are too scared to show the long arm of the law. I myself build relationships with the young people on estates but they need to know that there is a line and I will not let them cross it. I've taken the exam a couple of times and failed but it doesn't make me unable to make rational decisions and organise operations like the scenario indicated. Sadly it isn't usually the poor vulnerable residents you see out in the estates it's the unruly kids and you only ever get to speak to the 'nice people' at the community meetings. Hey I'm getting carried away now as this incident is only made up but I think you understand how I feel......

  4. @ Bobbyonthebeat - I have worked neighbourhoods and I understand their role. Local beat officers are there to gather intelligence and engage with the community but most areas have PCSO's to do this too. The role of the police officer also involves enforcement. They should be the local sheriffs. The problem is that we have too many beat officers who, quite frankly, are frightened of confrontation and avoid it. This is failing the community and colleagues. Why have we recruited so many officers who either don't want to or are scared of arresting and reporting people?

  5. I would have asked the PC to quantify how he thought things had changed and what, if anything, had improved during his three year tenure. If all that can be shown is that he has maintained the status quo, then there can be no arguments against trying a different approach.

  6. @Lex Ferenda I couldn't agree more enough said.....

  7. As I said above - the selection process i.e. 'attract lower quality officers for the wrong reasons'. As bobbyonthebeat implies some of our officers need a 'whiff of grapeshot'....