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8 Top Reads for Police Promotion Candidates

Reading police promotion CPD

Your continuous professional/personal development (CPD) can be a killer question when seeking police promotion. Whether as Sergeant or Inspector, in the Met Police or Police Scotland, reading is an essential part of your CPD. For example, consider this potential interview question you can practice ahead of your promotion board: “What are you doing to develop yourself or anyone else for the next rank?” A reading list is a good start, staying abreast of local and national policing and leadership issues.

“Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader.” – Harry S. Truman

You will likely be assessed against the Competency & Values Framework (CVF). Taking care of your development and that of the people you will lead is overtly mentioned as part of the CVF competency, ‘We Take Ownership’. Development is often alluded to in the essential criteria of other CVF competencies relevant to the rank. In addition, CPD remains the number 1 recommendation of the College of Policing’s ‘Leadership Review’.

Reading is a simple way to begin your CPD and an essential ongoing part of your learning process. So, what are you reading? Note: social media scrolling doesn’t count! Similarly, reading all your force policies is time wasted. You could spend 1,000 lifetimes reading all the books that exist on leadership and management. Therefore, here’s a few places you can get started with some smart, targeted preparation for your upcoming promotion board…


1. The Competency and Values Framework (CVF)

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

You will likely be assessed in whole or in part against the CVF throughout your promotion process. Despite there being a range of promotion processes across the UK, police forces generally align their assessment and scoring to the CVF. Police Scotland have also moved to the CVF, albeit with bespoke values at the centre. In addition, several other England & Wales forces (including the Met Police) have created locally-bespoke CVF values. Yet all candidates are able to give their preparation a meaningful boost by learning to love the CVF.

The College publish extensive CVF reading materials for candidates on their ‘Professional Development’ site. This includes their well-known circular model summary depiction of the CVF. However, the model and the descriptions have been the source of much confusion for many an officer!

So rather than regurgitating unintuitive graphics, I translated the CVF as per the image above to help ‘demystify’ for cops. This includes connecting the 4 main CVF values to the foundation stone, the policing ‘Code of Ethics’. I also encourage all candidates to interpret some of the woolly language to make it meaningful on a personal level. In turn, this will help you build your evidence when compiling application forms or preparing for interview.

I provide quick explainers of each CVF competency and value on my Police Promotion Success YouTube playlist. See for example, ‘We Are Emotionally Aware‘ below. For more detail, try downloading a comprehensive eGuide and bag your own copy of my ‘What Works’ Masterclass.


2. College of Policing ‘Leadership Review’

“Police leaders should influence and drive the required culture change by demonstrating their own commitment to personal development.” – CoP Leadership Review, Recommendation 1

With the importance of CPD outlined above, reading is the easiest way to start. However, The Leadership Review isn’t just about CPD. It also includes a range of themes in which policing aspires to improve leadership, structured through a range of recommendations. You’ll notice how they dovetail with the behaviours from the competency framework. For example, improving culture, valuing diversity and difference, empowering others, recognising various forms of development, and setting and maintaining standards.

Although now several years old, the Leadership Review provides more strategically-minded officers an understanding of the various improvements in police leadership being sought across England and Wales forces.


3. Police Foundation: Strategic Review of Policing

“Policing is at a critical juncture. If it does not embrace reform it will likely be overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the demands coming down the track.” – Report Conclusion

Last month, The Police Foundation published their final report of their strategic review of policing in England and Wales. As with the PEEL inspection reports, I advise police promotion candidates familiarise themselves with the content. Particularly if you’re an officer aspiring to the more strategic rank of Inspector and above.

It’s a rather long report, so I’ve extracted some key points in this blog for you and summarised in the video below.


4. Policing Vision 2025

Policing Vision 2025, by NPCC and Association of PCCs: http://www.npcc.police.uk/documents/Policing%20Vision.pdf

“When you stop learning, you start dying.” – Albert Einstein

The Policing Vision 2025 was published in 2016, but still remains relevant now to your force. Created jointly by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), it outlines key challenges facing policing and how they might be met at the strategic level.

This is a particularly useful read, considering a common question asked across UK police promotion presentations tends to be along the lines of: “Please outline the key challenges facing this force and how you will help meet them?” Such questions on a promotion board don’t come any easier – at least for well-prepared candidates! In addition, such reports develop your strategic awareness of policing.


5. Future Operating Environment 2040

“A good leader realises that they are always a work in progress.”

Not quite ‘Bladerunner 2049’, but the Future Operating Environment 2040 is still projecting pretty far ahead. Bear in mind, this report and ‘toolkit’ is based around England & Wales. However, the trends, scenarios and challenges are applicable to all UK police forces. This report is the result of long-term horizon-scanning by the College of Police. In many aspects it provides an updated position with more detail on the broad assumptions and challenges described in the Policing Vision 2025. For example, it mentions the word ‘pandemic’ 18 times!

Whatever national or local strategies/challenges are published, a useful insight would be to recognise that change is the only constant. As a leader operating in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world (VUCA), the future is hard to predict. For example, consider how forces operated prior to the 2020/21 pandemic compared to now. There’s now new ways of working (from home), massively revised training priorities, and significant changes to recruiting officers. In addition, policing had to balance unprecedented new laws limiting citizens’ freedoms with ‘policing by consent’. Events were therefore somewhat unpredictable!

So it’s clearly a waste of time for most trying to predict the future exactly. In dealing with this ‘VUCA world’, a better use of your time in preparing for promotion and leadership ambitions is looking inwards to your emotional intelligence and building your resilience. These will stand the test of time. Being emotionally aware and with the resilience to lead policing through such change is so important, the CVF includes it as a dedicated behaviour against which you will be assessed: ‘We are Emotionally Aware’.


6. Your Force Mission & Strategic Priorities

Familiarising yourself with your force mission, vision and strategic priorities is essential. Here’s an interesting video of Alan Sugar stressing the importance of research about your organisation. Note any particular challenges and priorities, then consider how you could contribute to creating a brighter future under your leadership.

For Police Scotland candidates, view the video I created below for you, which summarises the main policing priorities. Access the latest priorities on the Police Scotland website, including the new 2022/23 Annual Policing Plan.

I also support candidates seeking promotion in An Garda Síochána. The mission is simple for policing in Ireland: ‘Keeping people safe‘. Officers here would also do well to explore An Garda’s Policing Principles and Code of Ethics. Whatever your local force, the following are some frequent strategic themes seen across UK policing: Public safety (of course!); Public communication and confidence; Protecting vulnerable people; Diversity and Inclusion; Working in partnerships; Wellbeing of officers and staff; Sustainability (financial and environmental).


7. Your Force PEEL Inspection Report

PEEL assessments are the flagship strategic reports into how England and Wales police forces are performing. Read more about the background of these Robert Peel-inspired reviews in my recent summary of GMP’s PEEL report.

The catchily-named Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) conduct reviews for England and Wales, plus other UK forces. For Police Scotland, an equivalent organisation (HMICS) conducts thematic inspections. In any case, your job as a promotion candidate and future leader is to identify where you could help your force improve.


8. Fast Track Candidate Handbook & More…

“Its what you read when you don’t have to, that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. – Oscar Wilde

Did you know, a hidden gem buried in plain sight is bespoke guidance for ‘fast-track’ candidates with high potential. I believe all promotion candidates clearly have high potential, so encourage my clients to read this material. There’s an equivalent scheme for Police Scotland officers, which is called the Accelerated Leadership Pathway. In each case, adopting the lessons and behaviours of fast-track candidates can be a fast-track to promotion success.

See also my YouTube playlist of videos sharing books that inspire me. I hope they also encourage you as an aspiring police leader into a regular reading routine. Some say ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’. However, different authors articulate different experiences differently! This helps different people to learn the timeless lessons in their own way. I hope you find something there that resonates with you! I distil key snippets of learning that may help you navigate your path to promotion. See a sample video below, in which I share my thoughts on ‘Serpico‘:

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 or download my Police Promotion Masterclass, or contact me to arrange personal coaching support. If you first want to explore completely free content, I have a collection of videoseGuidesa podcast, plus free blog content both here and via my Police Hour guest articles.

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