This blog is another meaty one for those interested in promotion to the Inspector and Chief Inspector ranks. Consider the significant ‘step up’ in expectations, particularly from police Inspector to Chief Inspector. You can do so simply by taking a look at current vacancies advertised across forces. This will also help your mindset for promotion if you are a Sergeant aspiring to Inspector; particularly if you wish to achieve high-scoring marks that exceed the role requirements.

“Step up or step aside.” – Christopher Titus

Here’s a potential interview question to get you thinking, one that could easily be asked under the CVF competency, ‘We Deliver, Support and Inspire.’

“Chief Inspector is a step up from Inspector; what is your understanding of that?”

Below is an extract from a force advert seeking new Chief Inspectors. I’ve put some key words in bold text, because the emphasis of these can sometimes be lost on aspiring applicants. The text clearly conveys expectations and level of accountability if you were to be successful in the process. There’s little doubt that the force in question is looking for outstanding candidates. For example, are you currently exceptional as an Inspector? If you answered “yes”, what evidence do you have to support that?

Good, Better, BEST

Best promotion candidates succeed

“If there’s a problem, yo I’ll solve it.” – Vanilla Ice

The following summarises some content from the advert, so have a read and see what you think. The police force in question is looking for candidates able to:

Meet current and future force and policing challenges.

Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and standards of the Code of Ethics, as well as current policing and force priorities.

Lead not only internal teams, but also lead multi-agency teams in the future.

Inspire and motivate others, fostering positive attitudes.

Solve problems, understanding the work and change needed to deliver improved policing. 

Hold strong public service values and strongly believe in quality of service.

I’ve provided links to further reading and food for thought related to the above items, which you can access for free. In addition, there’s more in-depth content on all the above within my eGuides and market-leading Police Promotion Masterclasses.

Here’s more on what the Chief Constable explicitly seeks evidence of. To assist, I’ve highlighted some of the key phrases that should prompt your thinking on potential responses / evidence:

The Chief Constable is seeking to appoint suitably qualified and experienced senior police officers who have the passion to serve our diverse communities and who have the drive and enthusiasm to deliver efficient, high levels of performance. This career development and progression opportunity is open to exceptional Inspectors, including individuals looking to transfer to the force on promotion.

Policing needs Chief Inspectors who can instil trust and confidence in officers, teams, partners and wider communities. As a Chief Inspector you will need to contribute to the development of culture, climate and working processes in your area, ensuring adherence to standards, and the promotion of accountability and continuous improvement. You will be able to lead in a complex and challenging environment and will also be expected to work as part of the Senior Leadership Team to make the force a better organisation, including the way we treat each other, and the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivered to the public.  

You will be a motivated senior officer who is resilientable to deal with complex and often competing demands. You will have a proven track record of driving significant change at a strategic level. You will have a strong commitment with the highest respect for diversity amongst your colleagues and the communities you will serve. You will be a strong and supportive leader with the ability to motivate and inspire others.

Force operational rotas and some additional voluntary roles are vital functions contributing to the forces strategic, tactical and operational response and the development and assessment of operational competencies force wide. Contributions in these areas are not currently equal, and the force aims to enhance resilience. With increased contribution from all, the impact on individuals is reduced. The skills and knowledge gained in participating in these activities will support your learning and professional development. In turn, this assists operational competency for individuals and the force as a whole, leading to better outcomes for our communities.   

We need to encourage an environment in which we can all contribute to wider organisational aims and expect new leaders to lead the way. If successful in this promotion selection process, candidates progressing to Chief Inspector will be expected to participate in and support force operational roots covering additional aspects of the role and applicable to the rank. There are opportunities aligned to your skills, to support your career aspirations and which are viable with personal current responsibilities or restrictions. 

Successful officers will receive development and support to carry out these role responsibilities. 

Inspector toolkit promotion

Hints and Pointers

Police promotion ideas

“Time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted.” – Sun Tzu

In case you missed it, to summarise, this advert is looking for exceptional, outstanding individuals, with passion, drive and enthusiasm, resilient with a proven track record of driving strategic change, able to motivate and inspire others, whilst dealing with complex and often competing demands. There is also an expectation of additional duties. Wow! Is that you? 

The advert is also filled with clues around potential questions that you might reasonably anticipate as a candidate for promotion. Here are a few for starters:

What is your understanding of the current and future challenges facing the force? How will you contribute to tackling them as a Chief Inspector?

What will your approach and priorities be towards leading multi-agency teams into the future?

What approach would you adopt to driving change at a strategic level?

How will you motivate and support your teams to deliver an effective and efficient policing service, given the current demands and pressures they are experiencing?

What have you done outside the day job to improve the service for staff and/or the public?

How can you operate effectively through uncertainty, in the grey?

Can you think of more? Which assessment competencies might your responses align to?

Chief Inspector Examples
Solid examples of what works in police promotion evidence

Plus Ca Change…

This video features a former Chief Constable of TVP talking publicly about what is needed from Chief Inspectors, including what it means to ‘step up’ to this rank. There are some valuable golden insights in supportive videos like this one to help support effective and meaningful preparation for career progression opportunities.

You may notice that although published several years ago, the themes remain the same: Public service, change, inspiration, strategic leadership… can you spot the others? I cover many of these aspects (and more!) in previous blogs (such as ‘Thrifty Shades of Grey’), then more extensively through detailed examples of Chief Inspector level evidence in my downloadable Inspector/Chief Inspector digital promotion toolkit

The aim of Rank Success promotion toolkits is to support, challenge and respectfully provoke thinking around the challenge and opportunities of selection processes. Force priorities, ethics, service improvement, dealing with challenges, managing resources, problem-solving, decision-making, strategic partnership working, delegation, managing performance, inspiring your teams, all against a backdrop of uncertainty… are all topics featured in the toolkit.

A Leg Up…

I’m always grateful for the extensive, regular (and unsolicited!) feedback I receive from successful officers. Here’s an example from Jon, now a Superintendent:

“I purchased Steve’s Inspector application guide to assist me, which I found really useful to see how evidence should be structured and provide a detailed and evidenced response to the behaviours. What I particularly liked was the way the guide laid out the different word count examples for example 250, 300 and 500 words and how to answer force specific questions around personal statements of what I would bring to the rank. The guide didn’t just help me for the application but also to structure my interview examples and how best to create a clear vision for what I would demonstrate and achieve in the next rank. I thoroughly recommend the Inspectors guide for those seeking promotion. It helped me broaden my thinking and awareness for the higher rank of Superintendent and I feel it would be equally of use to those applying for Chief Inspector and Superintendent, because I have yet to see anything which gives candidates this clear advice and guidance in order to best structure their evidence to be successful in a police promotion process.” 

Clearly, with force adverts like the one alluded to above for Chief Inspectors, the bar is set very high. What does your force advise and require? If you want some support to step up to Chief Inspector, your options might include this comprehensive toolkit. For an extra leg up, here’s a 20% discount code: RSGUIDES20. Of course, you also have the option to step aside if the challenge is not for you at this time.

In any case, whatever you decide and wherever you are on your promotion journey, I wish you all the very best for the year ahead.

Kind Regards, Steve

If you found this blog helpful, you can hit the ground running with your promotion preparation. Get your personal digital promotion toolkit, attend my Police Promotion Masterclass or contact me to arrange personal coaching support. If you first want to explore completely free content, I have a bunch of free videos, guides plus free blog content both here on my Rank Success Blog and via my Police Hour articles.