Bangers or Snorkers in the dog’s breakfast of police leadership

English breakfast

A strange title perhaps, but bear with me whilst I try to enlighten you further on the analogy which I arrived at during breakfast… Before I continue with my observations, I know there are some who will seek to dismiss them. Some will suggest they are too general to be of value, that they are based upon limited research or anecdotal evidenced and certainly have no academic foundation for argument. Am I concerned or surprised with this all too popular viewpoint?

Not a bit of it, our society has arrived at the point whereby experience counts for very little today, irrespective of how many years are involved. Often the only requirement to prove your worth is a simple piece of paper. A fancy certificate that attests to the fact you have; (1) subjected yourself to a lecture theatre for a couple of hours per week, (2) confirms you’ve read some books and (3) written a few papers based upon theory. To cap it all, this has to be balanced with a heavy social calendar, be financed by an enormous loan from the state (or gift from parents).

Having spent the vast majority of my working life in and around the emergency services (and the military), I’ve had the opportunity to observe and experience the quality of management and leadership which these organisations produce. I have to say that for several years now, I have grave concerns for the quality and abilities of management within the police service. Firstly because of the effects upon leadership of staff within the service and secondly, but probably far more importantly, the negative impact that lacklustre management has upon service delivery to the general public.

“Leadership in policing is the magic ingredient that makes the difference between the good, the average and the indifferent. The challenges in policing are changing. Leadership has got to change with it to meet those challenges” (Peter Neyroud, 2007).

Having spent all my police service subjected to the vagaries of police trained ‘leaders’, at all rank levels I have to say; I can count on one hand those ‘leaders’ that inspired me, that I trusted, or who I could respect and I’m sure I’m not alone in that view. What a sad indictment about the calibre and quality of police leadership we are producing? If Neyroud (and the service/government) have a genuine desire to improve things, as opposed to just providing ‘evidence’ in support of fast tracks to top positions, there is some serious work to do!

As mentioned above, I’ve also experienced military management in the Territorial Army. There would appear to be a distinct difference in the output from the respective officer training establishments of Bramshill and Sandhurst (or Dartmouth/Cranwell for that matter) but why is this? Either there’s a substantial difference in the overall training modules being delivered at the academies or, the personality traits, ethics, morals, professionalism and personal drivers etc must differ enormously. If that is the case, is it a fault of the initial selection process, differences in the inherent traits of the recruits or, is the difference instilled into these leadership candidates during the training? In general I’ve usually found less to dislike/distrust in army leaders than many of those in the police service masquerading as leaders!

Preparing to fix breakfast I headed towards the fridge muttering – Snorkers !!… Good oh !” Unfortunately my elation and anticipation was short-lived; the recently purchased quality produce from a local artisan Charcuterie had all been consumed. All that remained was a pack of non descript and insipid looking supermarket ‘value’ bangers! Nothing for it, I consigned the contents of the packet to the grill.

Yes they browned similar to proper snorkers, yes there was a vaguely familiar aroma during the cooking process and yes they would help to fill the plate. There was however substantial shrinkage, as the dubious contents of said bangers seeped out into the grill pan and, despite the proclamation on the packaging about “Superior Quality”, the resulting end product was barely fit for a transport cafe consumption. They might have filled a hole but were rather unpalatable and definitely not a suitable for display at Fortnum & Mason or a breakfast commodity at The Ritz. All packaging and no substance that no purveyor aspiring to a Royal Warrant would have sullied their name by offering up, even in the staff canteen.

If the Bramshill Bangers genuinely aspire to Sandhurst Snorker levels, ones that include inspirational and professional leadership based upon skills and ethics, they must sort out the selection process. They must use high quality ingredients and apply more care to their production process. Discard the substandard, put effort into their presentation and then possibly, they will become the artisan producers and purveyors of high quality police managers by Royal Appointment to HM The Queen!

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