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Policing at the top

Policing at the top: The roles, values and attitudes of chief police officers

Bryn Caless
Copyright Date: 2011
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  • Book Info
    Policing at the top
    Book Description:

    Chief police officers are often shadowy enigmas, even to members of their own forces, yet they make far-reaching strategic command decisions about policing, armed responses, operations against criminals and allocation of resources. What is their background? Where do they come from? How are chief officers selected? What do they think of those who hold them to account? Where do they stand on direct entry at different levels and what do they think of a National Police Force? Bryn Caless has had privileged access to this occupational elite and presents their frank and sometimes controversial views in this ground-breaking social study, which will fascinate serving officers, students of the police, academic commentators, journalists and social scientists, as well as concerned citizens who want to understand those who command our police forces.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0017-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Glossary
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Notes on the research methodology
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. About the author
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. INTRODUCTION The notion of the ‘top cop’
    (pp. 1-10)

    In 1968, Lord Denning thought that a chief officer occupied a unique position in relation to both politics and the law. Delivering a weighty judgement in the matter of a dispute of authority between the state and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord Denning observed that:

    [A chief constable] … is not the servant of anyone, save of the law itself. No minister of the Crown can tell him that he must or must not prosecute this man or that one. Nor can any police authority tell him so. […] he is answerable to the law and to the...

  9. ONE Cloning or culture? The selection and appointment of chief officers
    (pp. 11-42)

    Chief officers of police, with very rare exceptions, begin as patrol constables and come up through the ranks of a police force to superintendent or chief superintendent, at which point (or sometimes before) they begin to think about entering the process to be selected as a chief officer. This can be comparatively short or quite prolonged: experiences vary. But all aspirant chief officers have to be recommended by their chief constables,¹ have to pass the successive ‘gateway’ stages of the (Senior) Police National Assessment Centre (PNAC), and the Senior Command Course (SCC) with its modular programmes and additional academic studies,...

  10. TWO ‘The golden finger’: getting and keeping the top jobs
    (pp. 43-80)

    I looked at the candidacy, application and selection procedures to become a chief officer in Chapter One. In this chapter, I examine chief officers’ individual and personal experiences of moving up through the ranks and the ways in which they were picked out to apply for promotion. Many of those interviewed commented on how the ‘golden finger’ touched them to indicate that they were ‘chosen’ to go further.¹ The strong evidence is that identification of individual potential and the channelling of that potential into candidacy for chief officer is still very much rooted in a personal patronage exercised by senior...

  11. THREE The challenge of leadership in the police
    (pp. 81-118)

    It was noted in the Introduction that leadership in the police was something of a contested concept: does ‘ordinary’ leadership theory apply to the police, or is there a definable and distinct kind of leader found only within the police? Robert Adlam remarked that, in studies of leadership in the police:

    No systematic analysis [has been] offered concerning the ways in which police leadership is

    a) like all other manifestations of leadership

    b) like some other types of leadership (e.g. public service) and

    c) like no other form of leadership (in virtue of its specific tasks and functions). (Adlam, 2003,...

  12. FOUR Oversight and chief officers’ relationships with police authorities, directly elected police crime commissioners, HMIC and the Home Office
    (pp. 119-176)

    Responding to the initiatives, requirements and oversight of the police authority, both as a corporate body and in individual interactions, is one of the clear divides between the largely operational command role of a chief superintendent and the strategic command role of the chief officer.¹ This interrelationship is unlikely to change substantially when the police authority as a body is replaced in mid-2012 by the directly elected police crime commissioner (PCC) and his or her supporting police and crime panel. The 15% or so of an average chief officer’s time which is devoted to police authority matters (local oversight) does...

  13. FIVE On the nature of experience and exclusivity: the police ‘closed shop’
    (pp. 177-206)

    There is in policing an exclusivity in terms ofunderstanding the job by having done itthat closely parallels the culture of the Armed Forces, where individual credibility can often depend on a judicious mixture of experience, track record, postings, ‘hard’ jobs and perceptions of that individual’s achievements. Like soldiers, police officers tend to have little time for abstract theory and seldom pursue knowledge for its own sake, in the sense of ‘pure’ academic research. There are exceptions of course, but they are rare. What police officers tend to respond to isexperiential learning, in which the application of practical...

  14. SIX The future of policing
    (pp. 207-236)

    Police officers like to talk about policing, and chief officers are no exception to this general observation. They enjoy discussing the nature of the job and its ramifications, the criminal justice system, engagement with the public, the difficulty of investigating crimes, the nature of ‘criminal society’ and the character of public order; even the political changes which affect policing. They find endless fascination in the job and virtually endless satisfaction in its execution, not to mention indulgence in endless arguments about the efficacy of equipment and uniform. There are downsides to this widespread enthusiasm for the role of chief police...

  15. POSTSCRIPT Police leaders and resignations
    (pp. 237-238)

    In 2008, Sir Ian Blair, then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, resigned and there was a consequent sigh of relief throughout policing. He had clung to office for so long that his tenacity had become an embarrassment, and that had threatened the public’s often fragile respect for the police. When Sir Paul Stephenson, Blair’s successor, resigned on 17 July 2011, citing the ‘distraction’ which criticism of him would cause the Met, there was, by contrast, considerable dismay and regret. Actually, his action is typical of the man; his honesty and strong sense of public probity would not have allowed him...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 239-258)
  17. Appendix
    (pp. 259-260)
  18. Index
    (pp. 261-268)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)