Police human resources staff told to take risks with people management

Police HR professionals have been ordered to take risks in their people management as the force bids to overcome the constraints of bureaucracy.

Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), said HR had an important role to play in creating a new police culture.

An interim report by chief inspector of constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan last week said officers were bogged down by red tape and fear of using their own judgement.

O’Connor said HR teams must ensure senior managers have the skills to create a less risk-averse culture – and that to do this, HR needed to lead by example.

She told Personnel Today: “HR can’t be telling people to be brave if we are hiding behind policy manuals. We have to take well-informed, measured risks. We have to do what is right for policing. If that means thinking of different methods to traditional HR, that is fine by me.”

Flanagan said in his report that the NPIA should be charged with demonstrating clear leadership and new ways of working to change the culture of the police force.

Officers were adding to the bureaucracy piled on them because they wanted to make sure they were covered in case of management scrutiny. He warned that this was creating a risk-averse culture.

O’Connor added: “It is no good HR talking to managers about reducing bureaucracy if, when they want to claim expenses they have to fill out 15 sheets of A4 paper. There is no credibility there. HR professionals with credibility understand the dangers of letting processes get in the way of what they are trying to achieve.”

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