A message from Detective Chief Inspector David Spencer, CEO and co-founder of Police Now.
Last week the Home Office announced that Police Now was being awarded a grant from the Police Transformation Fund. The announcement has led to lots of questions, which we’re keen to answer.
First, some headline facts:
- The Police Transformation Fund awarded £5,331,584 for Police Now that will be paid in, mainly quarterly instalments, across two financial years (2016/17: £1.8m and 2017/18: £3.5m)
- Grants from the Police Transformation Fund are initially considered by the Police Reform and Transformation Board who then make recommendations to the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary makes the final decision.
- The Police Now application has three key workstreams:
- Infrastructure: The grant is not just for the delivery of the 250 participants for the 2017 intake but is to create an infrastructure that will enable the delivery of the programme for years to come. The bid is designed to support growth, not just for a single year, but through to 2020. The infrastructure to be created is a series of regional hubs that can better support the development of policing colleagues (not just Police Now participants but many other colleagues in policing as well).
- Diversity: The 2016 Police Now intake was 53% female and 20% BME. The grant will enable Police Now to review and improve a whole range of our attraction and assessment methods and materials in order to further improve our performance in these areas.
- Impact: The grant will enable us to put in place a whole range of activities to benefit more police officers, and not just Police Now participants. This will include developing the potential for colleagues (initially planned to be line managers) to receive additional development and support (if they want it) and the potential to provide transferable qualifications for police officers across the UK (for those that want them).
Police Now – the background
The Police Now programme was created by two Inspectors, Tor Garnett and I, when we worked together in Leytonstone in East London. At the time we were both leading operational teams (Tor a neighbourhood policing team and me a robbery squad). In July 2013 we pitched the idea to a Commissioner’s 100 event, these events are an opportunity for relatively junior officers who don’t usually get the chance to pitch ideas to the most senior officers in the Met.
The panel said yes to our idea and we started to create what Police Now would become. This wasn’t a programme that was created by HR professionals or the College of Policing or by working groups with lots of chief officer colleagues – it’s a programme that was created by Constables, Sergeants and Inspectors. In the early days we were all volunteers working in our own time.
Because Police Now was created by police officers as part of our work, the intellectual property for the idea was owned by the Met. In our original Case for Change, which we published in 2014, we outlined in more detail why we believed that an independent charity was the best way to run Police Now. This was based on the evidence from a number of other successful organisations including Teach First and Frontline. In August 2015 the Met decided to establish Police Now as an independent charity. Police Now is able to qualify as a charity given our explicit ‘not-for-profit’ arrangements and our stated intent to make a contribution to policing and a difference in those communities that need us most.
Police Now – the structure
As a charity Police Now does not make a profit, nor does it have any shareholders. It has a board of trustees who are required by law to ensure that Police Now always acts faithfully to our mission. Trustees are required by law to make decisions in the best interests of the charity. Should a decision be required which might expose a trustee to a conflict of interest that trustee is required to be excluded from the discussion and decision. As with any other charity, the position of trustee is voluntary. A trustee may not make any financial gain from their position.
The Board of Trustees includes individuals nominated by the Met and also a member of the Police Now cohort. Employee participation in the governance of an organisation is well-established and is recommended. Each year, a Police Now participant in their second year of the programme becomes a trustee of the charity to ensure that the voice of their colleagues is reflected in the priorities of the organisation. We think that this works and, although it’s not right for every organisation, would encourage others to at least consider it. Perhaps one day every police force’s management board should include a constable or sergeant representative with full voting rights.
Charities are required to register as both a company and a charity, which is why Police Now can be found on the register with both the Charity Commission and Companies House. Trustees are referred to as Directors on the Companies House website but all of the factors about not profiting from their role still apply.
We’ve been asked why Police Now makes such sweeping statements in our charity registration documents like making a difference to the whole of mankind. These are fixed categories set by the Charity Commission depending on the nature of the organisation – we have no control over them.
Our entry with the Charity Commission makes reference to “the efficiency of the police” – this is a reference to the Charities Act 2011. When registering with the Charity Commission the Commission required Police Now to include this phrase. On the Charity Commission’s website there is a reference to the “armed forces/emergency services efficiency” – this phrase is taken from the Charities Act 2011, when completing the form online this is the most relevant option for Police Now. It is not possible to separate out the armed forces from emergency services when completing the options on the application. Our entry on the Charity Commission website refers to Police Now’s work as benefitting ‘The general public/mankind’ – again this is because there are a limited selection of predetermined options to select from when an application is submitted and it is not possible to separate the general public from mankind. Ultimately Police Now is committed to improving policing in the UK – if policing improves then we believe that is better for the public.
Police Now has a subsidiary called Police Now Enterprises Ltd that is wholly owned by the Police Now charity. There are no individual shareholders who are able to profit from this subsidiary – the Police Now charity owns this subsidiary in its entirety. This is an entirely not for profit company. One of the reasons that Police Now Enterprises Ltd exists is to enable Police Now to utilise the gift aid provisions. Many charities are structured in this way. With hindsight, the word ‘enterprises’ makes it sound like a commercial operation, it’s not. Should there be any potential surplus funds at the end of the financial year, this is gift aided to the Police Now charity to enable all funds to be invested in the programme rather than given to shareholders (as might happen in a ‘for profit’ company).
Police Now has a procurement policy which fully complies with UK and European law. This commits Police Now to obtaining best value in all its contracts. The policy requires that any conflicts of interest be declared.
Police Now has not yet been an independent entity for a full year. In accordance with statutory requirements, Police Now will publish its audited accounts at the end of the financial year.
As a charity Police Now is, by law, not permitted to have any political affiliation or to campaign for a political party. There are people on the Police Now team who have previously worked for the Conservative Party, there are people on the team who have in the past spent every weekend leafleting and canvassing for the Labour party. In accordance with the law no police officer linked to the Police Now team is currently actively involved in politics. Police Now has been supported by politicians from across the political spectrum – over the past three years this has included senior politicians, ministers and shadow ministers from every major political party.
Police Now – the team
A small number of police officers are currently seconded to Police Now. Their salary costs are paid for by Police Now in the same way that officers who are seconded to the College of Policing or the Prince’s Trust salaries are paid. Involving serving officers in the daily operations of the programme is crucial to ensure that the programme accurately represents and prepares officers for the realities of frontline policing. No officers involved in Police Now are earning any more money than their police officer salary.
The rest of the Police Now team are employed by Police Now – this includes colleagues who are responsible for graduate recruitment, training and development and partnerships with other organisations. The salaries offered by Police Now to potential staff members are listed openly on our website and are a matter of public record. The vast majority of our advertised positions based in Central London attract salaries of between £25,000 and £35,000 per annum. These figures are at the lower end of pay band C for the Met’s police staff members. No additional payments are made by way of London weighting or for overtime.
Police Now – after the two years
We don’t want everyone to leave after two years. But just as our participants are recruited on the same terms and conditions as any other police officer, our participants are free to leave after their two years, just like any other officer. Whilst long service in the police – or any other sector – is a good thing, we also believe that service of two, five, ten years also has value to the community.
If our participants do choose to leave policing, we hope that they take the skills and experience they have gained to other parts of society. Policing is not always well understood by members of the public working in other sectors. A little more understanding would be helpful both to communities and to police officers.
Incidentally, the vast majority of our current participants state that they intend to remain in policing after they complete the two-year Police Now programme. Most have told us that they are interested in lateral development to either response or detective roles in due course.
Police Now – fast track promotion
Police Now is not a fast track promotion programme. Once they are confirmed in rank at the two-year point, participants may choose to apply for promotion in the normal way, just like anyone else.
Police Now – an evaluation
The Evidence and Insight Team at the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime are currently conducting a two-year evaluation of Police Now. This will report in 2017 once the participants of the 2015 Cohort have completed the programme.
I hope this has served to answer at least some of the questions that have been asked over recent days. I am sure there will be more, which we’ll endeavour to answer as they arise.
As I come to the end of this blog it’s worth adding a two further other points that are often picked up on and which I may expand on in a future post: (1) I don’t believe that every police officer should be a graduate; and (2) I do believe that every police officer is entitled to receive the best possible training and development that policing can provide.
Like any organisation we don’t get everything right, but I can say with certainty that every single person involved in Police Now is involved for the best of intentions. All of us believe that the UK’s police officers (whether Police Now participants or not, whether graduates or not) are remarkable men and women who work hard in difficult circumstances to make a positive difference to people’s lives every single day.
With the grant provided by the Police Transformation Fund I hope that Police Now will be in a position to increase the support that we can provide to colleagues across the country.