A new framework for the professional development and performance management of probationary constables
Policing, the enforcement of law and the keeping of order within society, is continually and increasingly under the public microscope. There are many varied and conflicting work doctrines, the control of which is partly directed by the chief officers that lead the police forces of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For the police service, the assessment of the work that is carried out has to be justified before an increasingly large and critical audience. Within England and Wales, a relatively recent change in Government has itself led to a change of focus on policing issues and political examination from hitherto unknown quarters. Whilst policing in an environment of change and increasing political influence, individual police forces and their members are being increasingly held to account, not only for their performance but their actions leading to that performance. This research examines the problematic nature of measuring and developing performance within a police service that not only expects, but demands personal development and individual growth in an occupation seeking to become revered as a profession. The performance of the individual during the two year probation period is closely examined and has been re-designed within this research. It is suggested that during this period the focus of any police officer should be on the needs of the individual within a relevant policing context, not on the performance requirements of the policing environment that officer serves. The concepts of competency, competence, behaviour, skills and performance related tasks are all closely scrutinised and reviewed with a focal aim of increasing the effectiveness of police assessment. The links between these standard setting processes and performance assessment are examined. This will also assist the service members to become proclaimed as the professional police officers they seek to be. This work has remained iterative and qualitative throughout the research. Members of all police forces have been consulted and data is drawn from them all. Within national policing, each of the recommendations that have stemmed from the research have been tested and found to be agreeable. This agreement was drawn from members of the federated ranks (those lower and perhaps more pragmatic in the organisation), members of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and the leaders and members of the strategic boards of the organisations concerned. It is recognised that for some, the recommendations are too progressive and could be viewed as 'revolutionary' and a step too far. The findings that emerge from this research involve at a strategic level recommending an additional role for the HMIC (Training) as a clearing house for police training research functions, the analysis of the role of the forthcoming police National Training Organisation. At a tactical level the research outlines a three dimensional model of police assessment to be used within any emerging police assessment/competency framework models as well as outlining how appraisals should embrace the advantages of including European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) processes within the structure of police officer assessment. This research recognises the link between organisational competence and the competence of individual employees and make these explicit within the overall umbrella of 'performance management'.