British Transport Police is a very specialist service. It polices functionally across the whole of the railway network. One of the things we were looking at doing was shaping the whole culture of the organisation through our officer recruitment – we’ve thought long and hard about what the public expects from a police service.
At the moment, it is partly outsourced, and we have a relationship with the City of London University. But what we wanted to do was take a much more direct line to shaping the culture and capabilities, because we have a very strong ethic around our role, which is to protect and serve the public. And although we were sending students off to university to get knowledge-based training, they were not being integrated into the organisation at an early stage, and lacked the behaviours we believe are important if we are going to protect and serve. So we’ve looked at bringing our recruitment training back into the force, and in doing that we’re working to ensure that we maintain national standards.
Most importantly, we’re working with the users in the business – our operations people – to make sure that we’re creating the kind of capacity that we need. On the back of events such as the G20 protests, I think the public have the right to be critical about the things they’re seeing.
Because of the economic downturn, we don’t have a lot of money to spend on new projects, so we are funding this initiative through savings. We are going through an efficiency programme, to make sure that we continue to direct our HR resources towards the things that will make a difference to the public.
We now have a much better understanding of the skills that we need, and we’ve linked our databases into our command and control system. This means that people who deploy officers to 999 calls can look at the system and see what skills they’ve got.
Our officers are not skilled and qualified right across the board – some of them are very specialist. For instance, we have officers with certificates in working at heights – if we have a threatened suicide involving heights, we can search our command and control system for the right officer to deal with that situation. We’re trying to make sure that all the work we do in HR and learning and development is focused on getting that in-service improvement at the front end.