English: Picture of Bramshill House (now a pol...

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Only 40% of Chief Superintendents that apply to go on the National Strategic Command course at the National Policing Improvement Agency‘s (NPIA), National College of Police Leadership at Bramshill, Hampshire manage to get through the pre-selection process and onto the course.


Successful completion of the course is a pre-requisite of them gaining promotion to Assistant Chief Constable (ACC and the Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) ranks).


In the old days, much of the 9 week course was spent looking at the management of a Force and its operational issues from a strategic point of view.  This year however, the changing economy, harsh cuts in public spending and a reducing workforce has led to the course being adapted to help equip the chief officers of the future with the skills they’ll need to manage their Force through further hard and lean times to come.


The current 34 delegates from around the country spend two-weeks on Exercise Willow and are posed difficult and complex questions by others including forces such as Hertfordshire, Northumbria, Warwickshire and West Mercia along with all of the Welsh forces.


In some cases, these are real-life problems being faced by those forces.  The delegates are supported in their problem solving by representatives from the superintendents Association, Police Federation, Unison, Black Police Association, Gay Police Association and the Association of Special Constabulary Chief Officers.


The four-candidate syndicates then have to provide an explanation for their decisions and thinking around issues such as outsourcing and collaboration to a panel that consists of a Chief Constable, members of their command team, a member of the Police Authority and a HM Inspector of Constabularies HMIC).


Each of the delegates quickly realises there is a significant difference between running their own department or Basic Command Unit and managing a whole force.  In addition, when they do reach the ACPO ranks, they also have a national ACPO portfolio to manage.


So it’s no surprise really that a Chief superintendent with a “good old coppers” background should be seen as a different animal when they get back from their Strategic Command course.  Once they were down the pub with the lads, bumping their gums about the Police Authority and politicians and the next, they seem to be in bed with them, sharing their views and aspirations; turning their backs on “good, hard-working coppers”.


No wonder conflict can manifest between the gritty operational investigator and the desk bound political “puppet” they once considered a good egg.   The trick is to use it in your novels and have a reason for its existence.  Hope this provides an idea of where it can come from.

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012


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