The Early Intervention Academy for Police Leaders
23 September 2015
On Monday night we kicked off our ‘Early Intervention Academy for Police leaders’ as 25 representatives from forces across England and Wales assembled at Portcullis house for an evening of speeches and networking.
At the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) we feel that for early intervention to happen more routinely and become ‘business as usual’, we must embed this way of working across the whole of our public service system. This requires a focus on specific workforces to look at how we can encourage the sorts of behaviours we want to see on the frontline. Changing how different groups of professionals work requires consideration of workforce development, incentives, culture and leadership within particular sectors relevant to early intervention. So, in partnership with the Home Office and College of Policing, EIF have begun some work to focus on the Police, who perhaps see the need for early intervention more than any other public agency.
In July, we announced that we wanted to find and work with a group of police leaders who are committed to the early intervention agenda and driving change in their forces, writing to Chief Constables for nominations. The aim is to bring them together to hear from experts, share ideas and help each other problem-solve to develop practical plans to take this agenda further forward in their forces. Competition was fierce, but we have selected 25 participants on the basis of their commitment to early intervention, strategic vision and determination to use the opportunity provided by the Academy to drive change in their day jobs.
Our Academy delegates will attend 4 Masterclasses followed by action learning sets which help them develop practical plans they can implement back in their forces. Below Andy Rhodes, Deputy Chief Constable in Lancashire who led the first masterclass reflects on the first session.
Andy Rhodes, DCC Lancashire Constabulary
On Monday evening EIF’s Early Intervention Leadership Academy was officially launched and I ran the first masterclass the following day called ‘Preventing crime, reducing demand and tackling need and vulnerability in communities’ which I designed around what I think is a really useful leadership construct ‘Let’s start with ‘why?’ (look up Simon Sinek on YouTube on this). For the first kick start session, what better way to get us off on the right foot than taking some time out to reflect on the meaning and purpose behind early intervention (EI)?
It’s important to do this for 2 reasons. Firstly, we need resilient leaders to deliver the EI agenda. We had an amazing response to the Academy from 33 forces with applications that were passionate and committed, so I knew we had strong values-led leadership in the room. A great start, because leading in this field is tough and often thankless so you need to know why you are doing this as opposed to something less challenging. Being clear on how our values motivate and inspire us is a powerful leadership ingredient.
Secondly, we need to be able to bottle this power and deploy it skilfully if we are to negotiate and influence our way through wicked problem territory. Too often I see passionate people wearing too much heart on their sleeve for their audience or not enough. Getting the balance right requires us to be self-aware, put ourselves in others shoes and work on making an impact.
The whole session was designed to explore how EI leaders can create a compelling case for prevention not despite austerity but because of austerity. A colleague from Greater Manchester Police put it perfectly “we are trying to fix the plane whilst it’s still flying” …I like that I’m going to steal it with pride!
To be able to succinctly communicate a compelling case we need to work out what levers to pull and so we worked through some options looking at demand (EI helps us understand and tackle repeat demand), vulnerability (EI is harm reduction) and workforce capability. The combination of these levers really sums up the big challenges facing policing heading towards 2020. Oh and add in legitimacy for a full house!
Demonstrating how EI can add value requires savvy leaders who are prepared to adapt, flex and aren’t afraid of the hard sell. Dragons Den was fun (for me) and we put delegates through their paces asking them to pitch to Adult & Children’s Social Care Directors, their Chief Constables and local Police & Crime Panel Group. With more time, we could have talked through what worked and what didn’t. The pitch for EI requires precision and impact.
My reflections on a damp, humid day in Kennington are mixed. I picked up from the group that this is a daunting challenge and our expectations of the leaders who commit to driving change is high. It seems like there is a lot to do and even when we were cash rich this was tough work. Now it’s even tougher. I came away with even greater resolve to support EI leaders in whatever way I can on a personal and professional level.
I also came away inspired. The EIF Academy has the potential to be far more than a time limited programme. In the room on Tuesday, we had a group of highly competent values-led leaders who themselves are a force for change that can connect and influence. They can do this locally in their forces, but also have a national platform as evident by the senior leaders from the Home Office and College of Policing out in force at the launch reception (no pressure!). My message to delegates is let’s use this platform and influence the national debate… go digital and do it soon. If you aren’t up to speed with how to create social impact through digital engagement then get up to speed, blog, tell stories, shape opinion and be mildly controversial. Visit www.weneedsocial.com and learn from the leading innovators on this field.
So EI leaders, you have my utmost respect for having the passion and commitment to step up to the challenge and I do believe your time has come. EI has so much that the Police service and the public desperately needs, it is more compelling now more than ever and you have the EIF team and their networks right behind you. Head or heart or both, this Academy is a real force for change.
You can find a list of our ‘EI police leaders’ here