Police target culture skews how HR rewards good work

The police force’s target culture is forcing HR teams to reward officers on the basis of how many arrests they make, rather than on how satisfied the public is with their services, a senior figure has warned.

Andrew Marston, HR director at Greater Manchester Police (GMP), told Personnel Today that simplistic measures such as how many ‘sanction detections’ [certain, but not all, offences that  lead to charges being made] officers made in a month skewed HR decisions on promotions and pay.

“You get drawn into a discussion about how you relate operational targets to things like pay and promotion,” he said. “You end up skewing the HR processes towards particular targets. But just because an officer’s got so many sanction detections in a month doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an outstanding officer. The role of a police officer is quite complex.”

Marston – who will retire at the end of June – said changes to the force’s internal structure would help provide greater career development opportunities for officers. His replacement, Julia Rogers, started yesterday (Monday 9 June).

“By July, GMP will operate under five new strands, two of which are people-focused,” Marston said. “This will help give our leaders mentoring and coaching skills to help them develop their staff, and to enable them to make better use of the skills and talents of the workforce as a whole.”

The changes were instigated by former chief constable Michael Todd, who died earlier this year.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not expect officers to pursue detection numbers for numbers’ sake if that means chasing minor misdemeanours at the expense of serious offenders.”

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