Poor management at police improvement agency hits front-line police operations

Front-line policing is being hampered by serious people management problems at the very agency set up to improve their training and systems, Personnel Today has learned.

Just two in five workers at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) understand their employer’s aims, while only one-third agree that its business strategy has been clearly explained, according to a staff survey.

The survey, seen by Personnel Today, also reveals that just 10% of staff believe a high level of trust exists between senior management and employees.

The NPIA was established last April by the merger of the Police IT Organisation and training body Centrex.

One NPIA employee said: “There are some unbelievably bad management practices. After a whole year, little progress has been made in resolving ‘teething problems’.”

Ian Lawrence, national officer for the Public and Commercial Services union, which represents many NPIA workers, said it was “very sad” that committed staff could not grasp their organisation’s aims.

“This can only be detrimental to the ability of front-line officers to do their job protecting the public, as they are reliant on an organisation that has some serious work to do in improving the morale and direction of its own workforce,” he said.

The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, also said the NPIA needed to improve.

Chairman Jan Berry said: “There remains a need to clarify roles, responsibilities and working relationships with the [police] service and government.” However, she added that a lack of government funding was partly to blame.

The NPIA admitted it had “a lot of work to do”, but insisted the merger was a complex management task, bringing together multiple products, cultures and IT systems.

“The areas for improvement were not a complete surprise and the organisation is now able to work on them together, well informed,” it said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and a bright future ahead.”

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