Last week I had a few days away from work and I hope some of you have been able to have some time off during half term. The pace of life is returning and the force is very busy. I know we are working very hard at a time when the chances of a holiday overseas are again receding. I cannot thank you enough for your work.
Having time away from work is important and I do recognise taking time off when you want it is vital, but is actually quite tough at the moment. As an Executive Team we discussed this two weeks ago. We think it’s very important people take leave and will track more carefully when people have leave refused a number of times. We will also be operating extended leave carry over for the next two years. More news to follow.
The last few weeks have seen some tragic events. None more so than the murder of Dea-John Reid. Many of us will have been shattered by the words and emotions of his mother, brother and the rest of his family. Their dignity and leadership in the community have stood out. We cannot put this right but the force has let our policing do the talking and I’m grateful for the work of so many of you on this case.
It was reported last week that the force concluded, with South Yorkshire Police, a scheme for compensation for the victims of Hillsborough. Later this year the IOPC will publish reports on the Hillsborough investigation which will discuss both force’s role in more detail. For many of you, (and in some elements myself as this happened the year before I joined the police) this can seem like history but its effects are very much still felt by the public and officers. It is very clear, as it is with the Birmingham Pub Bombings investigation that the pain of loss endures for families for the rest of their lives.
These sad events make us all ever keener to celebrate the exciting and good. Last weekend saw the City of Culture arrive in Coventry. It will be an amazing year with some fantastic events and I was so pleased that policing was an active part of this event. Do look at the calendar for the year as there are some amazing events planned.
You may have seen the force has now an extra 696 more officers than last year. This is great news but we have a few growing pains! Around 20% of the force are now student officers and more staff are tutoring. The benefits of extra people are not yet felt everywhere, and this is particularly the case in investigations.
Crime recording and a number of serious incidents are creating pressure in some teams within FCID and PPU. Last week we asked for more volunteers for what are important and exciting roles. We have now reached a point where we need to start making some changes in how officer’s careers work and tweak some of our ways of working.
Today the force is a bit of a market. Jobs come up and you apply for them. There is often little reason for people to move unless they fancy a change. As the force is growing, we have some parts of the force that are attractive places where new officers want to go. Response is a good example. There are other roles that people do not actively seek. Custody Sergeants is a good example and is great role where we usually post new Sergeants. The force is also changing. Investigators are a bigger part of our workforce as our organised crime, counter terrorism and public protection roles have grown. Investigations work has become far more complex and specialist.
So what will we need to consider?
To begin with we will be bringing our investigation functions up to strength as a priority. We also need to recognise crime recording is now creating crimes for some matters, such as ASB incidents, that were never dealt with in investigation teams and whether some of this work should, and would be better, dealt elsewhere.
We will then need to consider what incentives or ideas we can put in place to make people understand these roles and seek opportunities there. I think we will need to start considering some core rotations. If you have been a response officer for four years, I would say, we need to consider whether year 5 ought to be in investigations before you return, so your skills are lifted in this critical area (everyone is an investigator). Perhaps there are some core roles Sergeants need to do before they have opportunities to progress? Finally, you may be doing an amazing job but at a certain point it seems right to actively discuss your career through our WMP conversations, whether a change is right for us and you.
I need to be clear none of this is decided. It is not a plan for tenure. But as we are growing and the force is changing shape, as we are getting better at WMP conversations and starting talent management, it is time to start managing postings and skills in a more modern way.
As always your views are welcomed.