Is your glass half full?
It’s only been a couple of days since the ASPS mini conference and I find myself at the Scottish Parliament along with my predecessor CS Gordon Crossan and our General Secretary Craig Suttie having meetings with some of the MSPs, part of the regular engagement with stakeholders that the President has. Very quickly I recognize the importance of these meetings and I am impressed by the honesty and candor of the conversations. Most importantly I am struck by the quality of the questions that we are getting asked, the genuine interest that the MSPs have in what we have to say and the fact that there is an authentic enthusiasm for the Police Service of Scotland to evolve and succeed at delivering excellent service to the citizens and communities of Scotland.
Our meetings run late but we have time to get along to the Justice Committee Sub meeting that is due to start at 1.00pm. The Sub Committee convenes and DCC Designate Iain Livingstone and SPA Deputy Chair Dr Nicola Marchant are scheduled to give evidence. The questions are clear, direct and challenging on a wide range of topics including culture, values, behaviours, wellbeing, leadership, training, morale, misconduct and performance – all with a subtext about the people in the organization. In fairness Mr Livingstone and Dr Marchant answer the questions in straightforward manner acknowledging that since its inception Police Scotland had not focused enough on the people in the organization, not invested enough in leadership training and development and not done enough about the wellbeing of the workforce. Mr Livingstone gave positive indications of work which he is personally leading on wellbeing and referred to ‘green shoots’ that he believes are positive indications that improvements are being made. The Sub Committee members seemed to appreciate the frank update but are clearly keen to follow up with monitoring and more information particularly from staff surveys. The Sub Committee adjourns and we are off to our next meeting at St Andrews House to see HMICS Derek Penman.
We meet Mr Penman in his office along with CS Gill Imery – one of our ASPS members working right at the heart of the Inspectorate. Again, we quickly move into meaningful conversation about policing in Scotland and issues of organizational culture, shared values, wellbeing, outcomes, leadership, training and development. It is plain that Derek and Gill are as passionate about policing as ever and are keen to celebrate the positives and advances of Police Scotland whilst helping to stimulate a virtuous learning cycle within the service. We share thoughts and agree that regular, honest dialogue is how we will continue to work together.
It has been a long day of meetings with lots of talk. As I reflect on it all I am left with an overarching thought….. all the people I spoke to or listened to today – our politicians, the DCC Designate, the SPA Deputy Chair, HMICS, Chief Superintendents and other colleagues – without exception everyone wants the Police Service of Scotland to be a first-class organization. Whilst it is true that there are a number of things that need to improve we need to remember that so much great work is getting done day in and day out by the men and women who are the service. From an ASPS perspective, we need to herald the hard work and dedication of the Superintendents and Chief Superintendents who are shouldering much of the responsibility and accountability as the senior operational leaders of the service. We need to demonstrate across the service that there is much more that unites us than divides us and that by working together we can and will make it better. The glass of Police Scotland is definitely more than half full, we just need to take time to recognize it and agree that we are all trying to top it up.
President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents