Over the last month, Principle One has been hosting three secondees from the Police Now Graduate Leadership Programme. Since joining Police Now in 2020, Ben, Serena and Michael have been working as Neighbourhood Police Officers, focusing on policing areas where residents have had long-standing concerns and working to build trust between the force and the local community.
As part of the Police Now Programme, officers have the opportunity to undertake a secondment to broaden their skillset; either in a different policing role or within industry or the non-profit sector. For Principle One’s three secondees, they were keen to understand how the challenges they face in their frontline roles are addressed in a business environment as well as understanding how the skills they have developed in policing could be applied to a corporate environment.
Before the secondment began, Ben, Serena and Michael were asked to put their heads together to propose a problem that they faced within their respective wards that would provide a focus for the secondment. They were quickly able to agree on an ongoing challenge that impacts many forces at a local level but is handled differently from one area to another: the poorly considered rehousing of high-risk individuals and families in social housing, which can have a range of negative repercussions including increases in anti-social behaviour, stress caused to vulnerable individuals who are impacted and increased levels of criminal activity in the area. From their own experience, they’ve seen the impact of a lack of effective data sharing between police and local housing authorities and the increased demands on police time that a poorly informed decision can have.
The secondment kicked off with a set of bitesize training courses to introduce the secondees to the methods in the Principle One consulting toolkit to help improve their understanding of the problem area and the stakeholders and constraints involved.
From their Police Now training, Ben, Serena and Michael are used to following the SARA (Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment) approach to problem-solving policing when tackling a new problem in their neighbourhood wards. Using Principle One’s methods in line with the SARA approach helped the team to go beyond the initial problem statement, developing a motivational model that would help understand the role of different stakeholders in the process, the current ways of working, and the constraints that both policing and housing authorities have to work within.
This helped focus analysis on the different impacts that current housing processes have both on those most vulnerable to disruption caused by a poor housing decision and those who represent a high risk of triggering an escalation of anti-social behaviour or crime. This precision of language was very important in considering the current processes and how they may need to change, and how new technology or data solutions could help. Reviewing the current processes identified the need to create a common understanding of whether residents were at risk of disruptions or themselves presented a risk as early as possible to enable all to make informed decisions as quickly as possible.
Based on this analysis, the secondees came up with the idea of a Housing Risk Matrix, that would combine data held in force and by the authority to make an informed decision around prioritisation. This would enable a score to be generated that would inform decision making and identify where the housing process should be expedited. Initially, the scoring criteria would be based on experience but over time, the factors could be tested and the weighting reworked accordingly. Ben acknowledged that “there would be some challenges putting the matrix into practice, not least the need to ensure that Data Protection legislation is being followed which would likely have to be facilitated through more complex information sharing agreements than are currently in place”.
Having identified the different stakeholders that they would need to sell the idea to, the team moved on to think about how they would bring the solution to life and its benefits to the different stakeholders involved. Tracing back to the motivational model helped to firm up on the benefits, both quantifiable to policing and housing authorities and less quantifiable but most importantly into the community.
Before returning to their roles in operational policing, the secondees reflected on what they had learnt from their brief experience as consultants. For Serena, the experience has given her a wide range of new skills “Learning so much in such a short space of time has been a challenge and I’ve had to process a lot of information rapidly. I’ve really improved my understanding of technologies for collaborative working and new ways of presenting information to make a compelling case for change. I’ve also really enjoyed the way that we’ve been supported in learning new skills. We’ve been able to put our consulting training into practice immediately, on problems that we encounter on a day to day basis and coached by experienced consultants on a day to day basis throughout.”
The secondment has also given an insight into the role that industry can play in working with policing. “Learning to explore a problem with an open mind and forcing yourself to take a step back to understand all aspects of any problem is a really good discipline that I will take back to policing.” reflected Michael. “We are often under pressure to demonstrate an immediate response and I hope applying the consulting skills I’ve learnt will mean I can be more proactive in how I tackle my role.”
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