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Better leadership training could prevent misconduct, says PCC

Wiltshire PCC, Philip Wilkinson, has said the NPCC and the APPC need to step up on leadership training to tackle the influx of misconduct cases.

Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson has said he is “horrified” at the number of misconduct cases the force has seen since he came into post seven months ago. 

The force is seeing on average one officer dismissed per month for misconduct and currently has a number of impending cases. 

Last week, the force saw a staff member sentenced to six months imprisonment for misconduct in public office, as well as a former PC sentenced to nine months imprisonment also for misconduct. 

“From my previous experience, I would look at the very top of the force, and as to why they have not identified this problem and already put in mitigating strategies. So what I'm really talking about is the NPCC,” said PCC Wilkinson. 

“You should hold the senior leadership to account for what they are responsible for. So I think there are a number of remedial actions that would not be that difficult to put in place. And I'm shocked that they're not already in place.” 

PCC Wilkinson emphasised the importance of hierarchical leadership and management training courses, explaining that officers should not be asked to take additional responsibilities or exercise authority if they have not received pre-requisite training. 

“That should start with promotion to sergeant because it's at that level, the lowest level of supervision, where they should be identifying any individual whose behaviour is perhaps showing signs of being deviant. And we should be correcting it at that level. There should be supervision at every level as we go through the rank structure, and there isn't.

“I know, the College of Policing would like to put that in place, but perhaps they've been under-resourced over the years. Who do we hold responsible for that? It is not always the Home Office, it’s also the the NPCC - they're the bosses.”

“I would also like to see a greater involvement at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

“My role is in legislation, is it the three words - scrutinise, support and challenge. But I think those three words are in the wrong order. I think it should be to scrutinise, analyse, and then challenge and then to help my Chief Constable to deliver. We should be working in partnership together.”

Mr Wilkinson served for 32 years in the Army with the Royal Artillery, Commando and Parachute Brigades and Special Forces, including six years in Northern Ireland. He retired as a colonel. 

For the past 20 years he has worked for Whitehall departments on the international front-line in Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Somalia.

"I was in the military for 30 years. And I was given the prerequisite training for every promotion that I had. So I never was in a position where I had responsibility without having the training to exercise that responsibility," he said today. 

Prior to speaking to Police Oracle, PCC Wilkinson had been in a meeting on a new sergeants' training course that will be implemented within the force. 

“It was challenging sergeants with all sorts of difficult circumstances. But those individuals really should have had that training before they became sergeant. We are now trying to catch up. 

“Within a single constabulary and a small one like ours, we can put in place low level training for sergeants, possibly instructors, but then perhaps we should have a regional approach for the next level of leadership management and training. 

“And I know of course, there is a strategic course for promotion to A/CC, but we need a whole hierarchy of courses below that reaching down to the one that we are now running.” 

PCC Wilkinson specified that it was not that the wrong people were getting into leadership positions, but that they need to have adequate training to be able to conduct that authority properly. 

Also inherent to tackling misconduct, he said, was taking policing back to the basics, allowing officers to do the job they signed up to do in order that they experience job satisfaction and don’t fall into cynicism. 

“Complacency is, is the enemy of professionalism and progress,” he said. 

“There will be those individuals who, when their morale and motivation is low, will start to be more susceptible to unhealthy and unwanted temptation. And they will not be exercising the personal and self discipline necessary to make a force effective.” 

PCC Wilkinson came into the role in August of last year. He told Police Oracle that he is working on stripping out the unnecessary bureacracy in order to build the capacity of his office, and ultimately “help the officers and the Chief Constable to deliver what they joined the police force to do”. 

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