There's a couple of posts over at Gadgets gaff that I couldn't help but agree with, in part. I'm not a regular visitor, as I feel my 11 years of retirement after 30 years of service puts me well and truly into the `dinosaur` category, plus I feel I had nineteen excellent years of police service and actually enjoyed it. However, the final eleven taking me to my `30 years and goodbye` were somewhat strained because by then, as a senior officer, I don't think I actually fitted the required `mould de jour` and couldn't turn my mind to all the budget trimming number crunching policy political stuff. It just wasn't my style and I felt punished for making that known to my new peer group and the chief officers above me who, in turn, gave me the impression that they felt they'd promoted a bit of a traiter. I felt a bit like Groucho Marx who wouldn't want to join a club that would allow him in as a member - my treatment for paranoia is almost complete and I'm feeling a lot better these days.
Where I would offer a challenge to Gadget's view is on his stance of being against direct entry for inspector ranks. I'm not actually against it, I just question whether it would be worth the bother. As part of my foray into academia, I spent some time in The Netherlands where such a system did exist and as far as I am aware still does. My research was on other matters within their criminal justice system so I only have anecdotal evidence on their `officer class`. The following observations should be viewed with that in mind.
After a couple of years full time study at the Dutch police college the new inspectors would find themselves at an operational police station. As per the system in the British military, oft used as a comparison by politicians favouring such a change, there would be experienced sergeants overseeing constables who generally make most of the day to day operational decisions without resort to higher ranks, but there I feel we should be cautious, for one should not make like for like comparisons as police and army organisations' operational doctrines are very different. However, as per the military, there were inspectors with lots of experience, who had come up through the ranks, as well as those who joined up and immediately went to the police college for 2 years to graduate as an inspector without having to earn sergeant stripes on the way up. In Amsterdam I spoke to my peers of that time, operational sergeants with up to 20 years experience, and I asked them specifically about how they found the direct entry inspectors. Their views I summarise and paraphrase thus;
`Some rookie inspectors were poor managers of people and put a lot of junior police officers' backs up by clumsy decisions and poor empathy skills and showed a marked lack of understanding of what makes ordinary people in all their guises (the main commodity of the police) tick. On the other hand, there were some who very quickly endeared themselves to the junior ranks, were open and willing to learn and had their feet firmly planted on the ground and who grasped the most important principle that just because they out-ranked their team, they didn't `out-experience` them and therefore did not automatically have all the right answers`.
That short summary happened to be true for me, too. I worked with newly promoted inspectors who variously displayed those self same characteristics identified by my Dutch colleages, yet my British police colleagues had all started off as constables and some had actually been in the job for over ten years, some twenty years, before making it to inspector. To my mind, the fact that an officer may think that fifteen years experience makes them better than one who has only three years has always been prevalent. I would always caution that attitude with the question, `is that fifteen years experience or just one year that has been repeated fifteen times?`
I would not close my mind to direct entry to the inspector rank without first seeing how it might be managed. Perhaps there is a blueprint in existence that I haven't seen. However, having seen that the Dutch experienced the same good, bad and average human traits in their organisation with its direct entry system as I did in mine without one, I question whether it is actually worth it, as the end product in The Netherlands appeared little different from the British equivalent.
My own weary observations have consistently confirmed to me that traditional policing has been progressively ditched and rubbished. It was never perfect but it was not rubbish and did not deserve to be dismantled as part of some huge academic social experiment. Senior officers have been steered, nay, encouraged away from doing what was, and still remains, the number one priority, that of clearing obstructions from the path of those who are trying to fight the alligators. We should start at the desired end result and work backwards from that, not try to impose the perfect world as seen from the top and work down to where it happens, because no one appears to be there anymore. So I guess on that final point me and Gadget agree!
POST SCRIPT: This link may be of interest