There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says that it is a curse to live in interesting times. I like change and have a fairly low boredom threshold so I actually relish the interesting times that we are undoubtedly living in.
After what seems like many, many weeks of deliberation, discussion, debate and decision making, I was formally installed as President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents at our mini conference today (12/9/17) at Tulliallan. I know it is a bit of a cliché but it is humbling to have been elected and a genuine honour to be entrusted with such an important and influential role within Policing. After almost 28 years in the job including 5 years as a Superintendent and 5 years as a Chief Superintendent it feels like becoming the President of ASPS is a fitting culmination of my career with real opportunities to draw on my experience and endeavor to put something back in to the service which I care so deeply about.
My first official task was to thank my predecessor Gordon Crossan for his time as ASPS President and wish him well in his new role as Divisional Commander in K Division. Gordon brought a fresh and renewing approach to ASPS which was timely and essential for the Association as it continues to evolve into a truly national body in line with the reform that brought about the single Police Service of Scotland. Gordon has been progressive in his thinking, inclusive in his approach and influential in his networking with a particular emphasis and focus on well-being. I am sure that Gordon will continue to make a significant contribution to ASPS, not least through his prolific communication through Twitter!
Reflecting on our mini conference (rearranged after our main conference was cancelled due to the move to critical security state), it was good to welcome a number of new members to their first ASPS event following their promotion after the most recent process. Congratulations to all who have been promoted to Superintendent and Chief Superintendent in recent weeks and months – it is good to see stability and posts being filled on a permanent basis. I hope that all members, new and not so new, will be engaged and involved in the Association because we need everyone to encourage, challenge and support one another – it’s fundamentally one of the key aspects of what ASPS is about after all.
During the short Members Briefing session we heard updates about the Panel of Friends, progress on the work to promote and embed well-being, the ASPS strategic plan, force funding and recent PNB negotiations. It seemed timely to be having these discussions as it simultaneously emerged through media that the pay cap on public sector pay was to be lifted with announcements that colleagues in England and Wales are to receive a pay increase that is potentially higher than 1%. This is an issue we will need to get into and provide more detail in coming days and weeks.
Next we heard from Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths, Vice President of PSAEW who gave an insightful presentation about future of policing, projecting forward to 2052 with the potential for more advances in technology and consequent changes in society. Paul’s input very skillfully highlighted the challenges and opportunities that the police services in the UK will face in the coming years, some of which are already captured in the Force’s 2026 strategy.
The 15th Jack Urquhart memorial lecture followed and was delivered by Robin Iffla, MBE. Robin was honest, forthright and thought provoking in his reflections on diversity and equality in Scottish policing during his lifetime and personal experiences. Some real and tangible challenges to the service were delivered with humour and passion by a true friend of policing….. I particularly liked his simple but effective challenge to all of us with the question “what are you going to do about it?”
The panel discussion in the afternoon covered a range of topics including; on call, command resilience, personal resilience, spans of command, increases in responsibility and accountability, (under) investment in policing and pay and remuneration. I was impressed by Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of PSAEW who was clear about the fact that we need investment in policing AND better pay and remuneration….. it isn’t a case of either/or we need both.
Looking around the room, looking at the men and women who serve as Superintendents and Chief Superintendents in Police Scotland, I was struck by the strength and depth of the operational leadership that Police Scotland has. I know that we have officers who are working as hard if not harder than ever, taking on more and more responsibility, striving to deliver excellent service to citizens and communities. It is imperative for the Force and for ASPS to fully support superintending rank officers, to properly invest in our people with quality training and development, with healthy working environments and proper conditions of service so that they can be fully empowered to take ownership and accountability for the delivery of policing and ultimately do what they are so passionate about and committed to ….. to be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year caring for and protecting the people of Scotland.
We do indeed live in interesting times, there is so much going on in Scotland, across the UK, Brexit from Europe and on the global stage. All of this affects us to varying degrees. As individuals and as the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents we need to be engaged….we need to have a voice….we need to be unmistakably in the game….. we need to be shaping the future of policing. We may not be able to predict the future as far as 2052 or even 2026 but we have such strength and depth of talent within ASPS that we can, indeed we must be the operational leaders that confidently and courageously takes the service forward.
It’s been an important day for ASPS and for me personally….. contrary to that proverb I quoted, you may have gathered that I think it is blessing to live in interesting times. What do you think?
President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents