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Master your Memory with Mnemonics

There is great value in using mnemonics to power your police promotion preparation. It is a great thinking tool and memory aid to deciphering the CVF, behaviours, values, or even the Code of Ethics. This therefore enables you to enter your promotion interview or process with confidence and clearly structured answers and responses. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the framework used in UK police promotion processes…

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – Carl Jung


What is the CVF?

The Competency and Values Framework (CVF) is the standard against which most UK forces run their promotion processes for Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector. I’ve blogged about the CVF before, provided several podcasts on the subject, and cover it more extensively in my digital promotion toolkit. For now and in a nutshell, there are:

– 6 ‘Competencies’: AKA ‘behaviours’. You will usually be aligning your evidence to each behaviour at ‘Level 2’ for the roles of Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector. Though be aware, in the ‘postcode lottery of promotion‘ some forces choose to assess some aspects of Sergeant at Level 1 and Chief Inspector at Level 3!

– 4 ‘Values’: Transparency, integrity, public service and impartiality. Note that the values use in Police Scotland, the Met Police, and some other forces differ slightly.

Episode 2.19: Leading Police Performance – The Spanish Inquisition? Rank Success: Police Promotion and Leadership Podcast

Welcome to Episode 19 of Season 2, where delve into the subject of leading performance and how it can feel like the Spanish Inquisition! I was inspired to record this podcast, having attended a talk on police performance given by Humberside DCC Paul Anderson, at the Emergency Services Show yesterday, 21/09/22. It was entitled, 'A Victim-Focused Approach to Performance'. My reflections in this (longer!) episode include: the Humberside 'Compstat' style approach; the expectations of performance management at each rank (Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector); what a one team approach looks like; the links to the CVF (We Deliver, Support and Inspire, and We Take Ownership); debrief on the presentation and Humberside's journey from bad to good performance; PEEL inspections; how brutal interrogation aids accountability; differences between strategic and tactical performance management; among other things like my own personal experience having worked in the top corridors of Devon and Cornwall Police. Whether you're aspiring to the next rank or seeking to solidify your competence as a leader, I hope you find this useful leadership CPD. As a coach/mentor supporting UK (and beyond!) police promotion candidates, I aim to provide valuable and meaningful guidance and information to help you succeed in promotion; especially those aspiring to Sergeant, Inspector and Chief Inspector. I hope you find this podcast helpful leadership CPD. Please share it with colleagues to support their leadership development too. As always, I welcome your thoughts/feedback. More support available: For more FREE support on your promotion journey to success, check out my blogs and YouTube videos. If you want comprehensive, in-depth and structured information on promotion aligned to the CVF, my unique Digital Toolkits and 4 hr Video Masterclass super-briefing supports you throughout, whatever your force's competitive promotion process. Even better, discount code RSGUIDES20 gives 20% off anything at checkout! See more free Rank Success content to read, watch and listen in the following places… FREE Blog: https://policepromotion.blog Premium eGuides & Video Masterclass content: http://www.ranksuccess.co.uk YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRM4aUxiSEPzmslrur6KToQ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/ranksuccess/message
  1. Episode 2.19: Leading Police Performance – The Spanish Inquisition?
  2. Episode 2.18: Interview with ACC Una Jennings
  3. Episode 2.17: Promotion Interview with Harry Tangye
  4. Episode 2.16: Fast Track Promotion and High Potential
  5. Episode 2.14: PDR Time? Oh No!

Your in-force promotion guidance is important reading material for a start. That’s because it will often identify what competencies and values are being assessed for each stage of the process; for example in the assessment tests, application form, interview board and presentation. It’s important to prepare by learning to love the CVF, make sense of it for yourself (as I did with the image above), and maybe even dive in to what is meant by phrases such as ‘We are Emotionally Aware’ or ‘We Deliver, Support and Inspire’.


How Can Mnemonics Aid My Police Promotion?

“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.” – Steve Wright

A mnemonic is simply a ‘thinking tool’ that aids memory. It does so by encoding information in a structured manner to help you recall the information easily later. It chunks key information together in your mind like a mental drop-down menu or structured list.

I use several mnemonics in my ‘What Works’ promotion masterclass and downloadable guides, including the purpose of maximising your memory as part of your preparation. For example, I have unique mnemonics for the timeless role of a police Sergeant and Inspector (regardless of what promotion framework is in place!), my bespoke ENAMEL interview response structure, SCORCH briefing/presentation structure, and more. The visual cues when associated with vivid imagery help cement the memory further, making it more readily available when needed in interview. It goes down well with promotion candidates and often forms part of the road to success, for example:

“Yet another good news story, I passed my Sgts Board at my first attempt and just wanted to say a massive thank you.  What stuck in my mind was some key points which I took in with me, professional conversation, delivering stories and most definitely the mnemonic! Thanks again.” – Pete, passed Sergeant promotion board first time.

Mnemonics need not make actual real words or correct spelling; they need only make sense to you. What follows are some examples for key College of Policing (COP) information and frameworks you may want to familiarise yourself with as part of your extensive CPD


ACED IT! The CVF as a Mnemonic…

“Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.” – Commonly-used mnemonic

The COP publish extensive guidance on the CVF, for individuals and for forces. It spans tens of pages of guidance detailing the model and behaviours expected for each competency or value. Once you’ve familiarised yourself with what’s required of you as a ‘Level 2’ police leader, here’s a mnemonic to help you anchor your evidence against each of the competencies in your mind: We ACED IT! You might for example use it as a central mental anchoring point when conveying a personal statement at interview, or in response to the interview question I discuss in my premium content, “Why should anyone be led by you?”

Another way of chunking the information might be ‘I CADET’. Or if you wanted to throw in the four values too… Here’s a TIIP: TED works in the CIA. The opportunities are almost endless, the important thing is to remember


SIR OF HALO: The Code of Ethics Mnemonic

“Good luck is a residue of preparation.” – Jack Youngblood

Relevant to the ‘Values’ at the heart of the CVF is the policing ‘Code of Ethics’. This might be a useful reference point for example when responding to questions about your decision-making (analyse critically) as the ‘Policing Principles’ are all about doing the right things in the right way. Or indeed when discussing values, since there is great overlap here.

So I would like to introduce to you my friend, SIR OF HALO

Or maybe you’d prefer to think about not having a bad hair day with the HAIR FOOLS… you get the picture.

For more on the the Code of Ethics, you might like my video below:

You can try this technique for yourself with any information you want to take with you, creating a personal filing system you can access as part of your promotion process. Maybe you could create your own mnemonic, for example when preparing for an open-goal question or presentation topic about the challenges facing policing. My police PESTLE analysis will give you a good start on the main points for policing.

Kind Regards, Steve


Author’s Note: This post was first published in August 2020, as part of the additional free written content I provide for cops on the popular police news site, Police Hour. Minor updates have been made when incorporating the content here on my main blog site.


If you found this blog helpful, you can hit the ground running with your promotion preparation. Get your personal digital promotion toolkit, attend or download my Police Promotion Masterclass, or contact me to arrange personal coaching support. For more completely free, no-strings content, I have a collection of videos, eGuides, a podcast, plus more free blog content via my Police Hour guest articles.

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