Metamorphosis at the Met

his new role as HR director for the Metropolitan Police, Martin Tiplady tells
Ross Wigham about the challenges he faces in strengthening HR so it can
implement the cultural changes proposed by the Police Reform Bill

Martin Tiplady, new HR director of the Metropolitan Police, has just stepped
into one of the most challenging jobs in the country at a time when the force
is undergoing a huge culture change.

He is under no illusions about the size of the task facing him, as the force
prepares to go through a radical programme of modernisation set out in the
recently published Police Reform Bill.

The Bill outlines plans to change police pay and conditions, raise standards
and introduce new civilian community officers.

"Modernising is a key challenge to HR in the Met. The Police Reform
Bill presents us with a range of issues, such as employing a new type of force;
the use of auxiliaries; and pay and conditions," he said.

Tiplady was attracted to the job exactly because of the scale of the
challenge, which he told Personnel Today will include cutting red tape and
transforming the HR operation.

"I really want to make this an HR department that is supporting and
assisting the organisation develop. It has to be more about helping to relieve
the management function and providing a set of tools they can use," he

"Around HR there is a lot of bureaucracy and form filling and, frankly,
we have got to get rid of some of that.

"The biggest challenge is bringing about structural, people and systems
change – it’s a classic personnel to HR transformation."

Importantly, Tiplady has the backing from inside the force to make change
happen. "There’s a strong view at the very top that HR is crucial to this
organisation. You don’t get that as much in a commercial organisation and I
don’t have to fight to be heard," he said.

The reform Bill will help HR modernise the Met by setting out clear standard
requirements, explained Tiplady.

"The police reform will help HR by creating a clear set of standards
you can benchmark against and deliver."

A key goal for the Met is to become an employer of choice. The force hopes
to introduce more flexible work arrangements and increase benefits. Free train
travel for staff within a 70-mile radius is already starting to help
recruitment, he added.

"The Met has made it clear it wants to find more ways in which it can
be flexible about work patterns. We have some scope to accommodate that at the
moment, and the police reform will encourage more flexible ways of working as
well as a work-life balance," said Tiplady.

"In the Met there is a desire to be as innovative and flexible as
possible in the way people work. We have 38,000 employees and we’ve got the
ability to bring about some real culture change, creating choices for

The Met is also developing more innovative recruitment methods to increase
diversity, such as visiting Bollywood cinemas and sponsoring the Chinese New

Tiplady said: "It’s now about keeping the momentum going. We have
targets and we have to make sure we get it right with a well-balanced

Staff retention is also high on the HR agenda. Tiplady is looking to keep
older officers in the Met beyond the current 30-year cut-off point.

"The reforms may enable us to find a way of retaining people after 30 years
of service and for them to keep their pension benefits. There is a provision to
test ‘the retention after 30 years’ scheme and we are in talks with the Home
Office about being used as a pilot.

"The ability to retain experienced officers alongside the intakes we’re
experiencing would have considerable benefits."

The Met is also backing the idea of strengthening the force with the
introduction of community wardens who will be given some police powers to help
reduce the burden on full-time officers.

"We want to develop a scheme where you employ a new type of police
family which has a limited police function. We are working through what this
might be in terms of training, and whether these roles would be paid or
not," said Tiplady.

"We also need to look at how we can link up with other agencies who
employ people with responsibility for caretaking or security."

The police reform Bill is also looking to cut the high levels of sickness
absence in the force, and Tiplady admits that is a priority for the Met HR

"The last impression we want to create is that there is a high degree
of malingering. But, of course, it’s the malingering aspect we need to deal
with and that’s where the focus will be," he said.

"We are about mid-table for the UK in terms of police force sickness
and there is scope to improve. We are trying to find out exactly what is
causing the levels of sickness we have and how we can improve."

New performance standards

A national competency framework aimed at eliminating variations
in performance between the 44 forces in England and Wales has been formally
adopted by the Chief Constables Council.

It aims to standardise training, skills, responsibility and
performance for each rank, across all forces.

For HR managers and directors in the service it will have a big
impact on the way they deal with issues like planning, tenure, postings,
re-deployment and sickness management. Officers and staff will be appraised
against specific standards for each role. The strategy has been developed by a
combination of research and interviews with officers around the country and a
profile for each role has been created identifying: the core purpose of the
job; key activities; behavioural competencies and the knowledge and skill sets.

The Police Reform Bill

– The package includes changes to the
law and non-legislative measures aimed at tackling variations in performance,
recruitment, training and support, to help improve policing.

– The measures will expand certain police powers and increase
the role of support staff working within the force

– The Bill also proposes an annual policing plan based on
national priorities and allows the Home Secretary to intervene in failing forces

– An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) will
encourage a more open system to increase public confidence and help bring about
more consistent standards

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