Personal development: an individual or organisational cost?

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This week the Darlington & Stockton Times reported on one of the policing issues that has always caused me to have strong views… Who should fund personal development training for police officers?

The article entitled ‘police under fire over training for officers’, actually reiterated one of my constant gripes throughout a thirty year police career; training time and the financial support for it was often rank based and, the whole subject of training in the police service is often treated with lip service.

D&S Times: TWO police forces have come under scrutiny for paying out thousands of pounds on training for senior officers… (Read more)

In my experience, important subjects such as Personal safety training for frontline officers could be cancelled at the drop of a hat, due to budgetary or contrived ‘operational’ constraint. Conversely and during similar periods of ‘constraint’, middle and senior management (civilian & uniformed) staff could be absent from their role for days (or weeks and on expenses), undertaking a development course or seminar.

Both Cleveland Constabulary and North Yorkshire Police were mentioned in the D&S piece and apparently, the ‘news’ had come to light after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request resulting in a report by the Police Review magazine.

It went on to explain how North Yorkshire spent £11,750 on personal development training for Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs, which took place between 2007 and 2009. Consequently (probably due to it now being public knowledge), North Yorkshire Police Authority are going to “investigate” if the training was “classed as the kind of training that the officer already receives an annual payment of £10,000 for as part of his salary.”

It is a well-known business management fact; money invested in training is never wasted. Every entity requires high standards of training and good personal development systems embedded within their organisational structure. A factor often strategically espoused but unfortunately rarely delivered. I have to say that, despite the general lip service paid to the topic, the quality of training available today, is often of a higher standard than was previously the case.

The opportunity for an individual to fully avail themself of those processes should be available to all, especially if an organisation has any genuine desire to be at the forefront of their business.

Meanwhile; North Yorkshire Police expects to shed 200 police officers and 350 police civilian support staff in an attempt to save up to £11m over the next two years. Sergeant Mark Botham, chairman of the Police Federation Joint Branch Board, in North Yorkshire voiced his concerns for; the “start of a great decade” for criminals as funding cuts begin to bite.

In many ways this incident is just another example how the service is being shafted by its leadership and management methods. Now I don’t think for one minute that Mr Briggs was dishonest in any way however, the situation is similar to that of the MPs who said; “I didn’t break any law, I complied with the rules, everyone does it because the system allows it.” Does that make it right? My worry is that ultimately it’s our society that suffers!

BBC News (update 28/01/2011): A senior police officer has criticised his police authority for carrying out an investigation into how he spent £10,000 on training over two years. (Read more)

BBC News (update 01/02/2011): A senior police officer who criticised his police authority is to retire at the end of the week. (Read more)

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