On May 15 I take up the position of Head of ACPO’s Finance and Resources Business Area. As a member of Police Staff, and not a serving Police Officer (or Chief Constable for that matter), I feel very honoured.
The general public do not come across members of police staff perhaps as often as they may a warranted officer. Some may not know what a member of police staff is, or how it differs from a police officer.
Police staff jobs cover all sorts of ground and can include anything from Detention Officers guarding prisoners, to Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCOs) seeking evidence and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) providing visible neighbourhood policing.
But like any business policing also needs people to help with day-to-day running and administration, thus it needs those with skills not necessarily apposite to a frontline police officer. Such as experienced communications staff dealing with the complexities of media relations, stakeholder relations and corporate communications, or information technology experts to manage the technology and communications systems upon which modern policing relies. Then of course there are those who populate the finance and administration departments, my particular area. The service manages complex and substantial budgets and solid financial support is critical to ensuring public money is spent efficiently and wisely.
Police staff typically make up around a third of the personnel of a police force, and in some places as many as half. While a varied group doing quite different jobs, we all share in the service ethos in trying our level best to help the public. Thus it is important, and I’m privileged, to represent police staff at the table of ACPO Cabinet.
Police staff are drawn from a huge range of professional backgrounds, my own being accountancy. I started working for Greater Manchester Police as Finance Director before moving to West Yorkshire Police as Assistant Chief Officer responsible for managing a variety of services including finance, procurement, estates, transport, logistics and IT; for a force the size of West Yorkshire it is quite a task.
Those in senior police staff roles, such as my own, are eligible to join the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) along with Chief Constables, DCCs and ACCs. ACPO organises its work in groupings known as Business Areas. My own relevant area is therefore Finance & Resources. Those in other financing roles across the country’s forces come together to address common issues, help each other, respond to government consultations and so on. Usually ACPO members elect a Chief Constable to head and represent the Business Area in meetings with the Home Office and other government departments.
After acting as deputy to the last three heads I threw my hat in the ring for the election to replace Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell who is standing down in May. I was delighted to be elected as the first police staff member to hold this position, and the second staff member to join cabinet – the Information Management Business Area has beaten us to it in electing a police staff member already (Ailsa Beaton, director of information for the Met).
I hope that my success will demonstrate that the vibrant mix of officers and staff within policing is represented at all levels of the service.