I am going to have a break from the operating model. Back to it next week.
Last week I watched an officer cry about policing. This was not at the Federation Conference. It was on the brilliant The Detectives on BBC2. The three episodes of this programme following GMP’s Sexual Offences Unit have been an excellent insight into officers’ work and victim’s experience in these traumatic offences.
If you have not seen the section, the officer has a suspect for a nasty stranger rape and gets a positive DNA hit that means he has got the right guy, the public are protected and a victim gets justice. It was a terrific example of the emotion and energy we put into our work. Policing is more than just a normal occupation. Police officers and staff work here because they know we have a just purpose; to serve and protect the public. If you do not get emotional about the people we serve then you are in the wrong job!
There are other emotions running in policing.
After five years of budget reductions there are frustrations with cuts, new demands and changes to terms and conditions. We have often felt over-criticised and undervalued due to a succession of events over the last few years. People are having to work hard and in ways that often frustrate them. Our recent staff surveys under WMP2020 shows this. You may have also seen this article in The Guardian which captures the mood of some in policing.
Today we now know that what we thought was an initial five years of cuts will be a decade. Unlike in 2010 we need to be very clear that the British public have explicitly voted to continue austerity. It was a clear democratic choice. The Chancellor has indicated that there will be a special budget in July. I suspect this will increase budget reductions in this and next year. It is very clear we will be a much smaller organisation by 2020 and we will have to lose some good people on that journey. This will be tough for us.
So which emotion is central to you; the pleasure of delivering for those we serve or the sinking feeling of hard years ahead and day to day frustration? I say this because it is your choice. As part of the leadership I am committed to help us organise in a way to meet these cuts, support you to do your job well and feel valued, but I can’t totally change our context.
As I look at our brand new recruits I think they see lots of reasons to be cheerful because their pride and sense of purpose is fresh. There is a lot to be proud of. The last five years have seen us be more successful than ever in reducing crime, demand and tackling big challenges. There are regular examples of outstanding work. The WMP 2020 programme does have to deliver big budget cuts but new technology and ways of working will be exciting. The new West Midlands Combined Authority offers some exciting new partnership opportunities. We are seen as a leading police force. Most of all the public value what you do.
For those of us who are leaders ensuring work is a positive and fulfilling for our staff is vital. WMP 2020 will have a new leadership focus because we need to play our part in positivity and change. In the last few weeks I visited a couple of our child protection teams. They are busy, but too much time has to be spent on wasted activity that starves time from the needy and demotivates. They are passionate about their work and full of ideas of how to make change. These challenges are not unique to the PPU.
So our challenge as individuals is to focus on the just work our service does and to offer our creativity to make things within our control better. To step beyond problems and look for solutions. For leaders we can create more power within our teams on focusing on what makes us proud, (our biggest asset) so we can work with our teams to tackle our problems. We need everyone’s ideas and commitment to make change and good leaders make this happen.
The emotions and pride we have as a force are a very powerful and worth more than any technology if we use them wisely. It is what will get us through tough times.