This is an interesting article:
Senior cop Maggie Blyth is set to take command of all officers in Portsmouth – despite having only put on a uniform a year ago.
As the city’s district commander, she will be leading scores of officers who have climbed their way up the ranks and garnered years of experience on the beat.
Yet Supt Blyth only made her first arrest in the last few months after being handpicked for what’s known as the direct-entry scheme.
Since putting on the uniform, she has been getting ‘full exposure’ to the streets of Portsmouth, making arrests at alcohol-fuelled violence and tackling anti-social behaviour.
A veritable baptism of fire.
Supt Blyth became a warranted officer in November last year, after a tough six-month process to get on the course between February and September last year.
Tough, eh? We’ll revisit that in a minute.
Transformed from a civilian to warranted officer in about a year, Supt Blyth knew she would be facing questions over her credibility, even though she has decades of experience in the criminal justice system.
‘During that time I had a lot of questions, I think first and foremost was credibility,’ she told The News.
Indeed. So how did she respond to these questions over her credibility?
‘Policing is very much based on working your way up through the ranks. I knew I would be managing a workforce that had never had a senior manager who had not come through the ranks.
Right, but how did you convince them you were the right person for the job?
‘A lot of the six months was taking to the police officers and other professionals about what the concerns would be.
That took six months? Finding out what might concern rank and file police officers when their chief is a complete greenhorn? A few paragraphs before we were told this was a tough course. It sounds more like a talking shop.
‘I came on quite prepared for the good and the bad for what I might find.
And what did you find?
‘I went in with my eyes open – and I must say I was really, really welcomed in Hampshire.’
You found you were very popular. Sorry, but couldn’t we hear about some of the concerns over your credibility? Or was everyone told to shut up and get with the programme?
Putting on her uniform for the first time was ‘life-changing’, she says, transforming her into a warranted officer of the crown.
Alas, we’re drifting further away from the topic of your credibility.
She says: ‘It was a really big significant life change for me, it’s still very much a way of life. It’s wearing uniform but becoming a warranted officer and the responsibility that you get with that is different from being a civilian.
And further still. She seems more interested in talking about her feelings than addressing concerns over her lack of experience.
Now Supt Blyth is looking forward to taking over in January, having completed stints on response and patrol – answering 999 calls – along with placements on neighbourhood patrols – which Supt Blyth calls the ‘bedrock of policing’, and investigations.
Stints. I’ll come back to that later.
She says: ‘I’m really looking forward to working with partner agencies across Portsmouth and working together, and working with the team I have in place within policing in Portsmouth.’
She is hoping to take on board the experience gained from the frontline during the training scheme – and go back out with officers while in post as district commander.
She says: ‘I was working with officers at a frontline level and that was really interesting. I was able to go back to my colleagues and those managers above me.’
Partner agencies…working together…take on board…frontline level. Somebody took home a copy of the Powerpoint presentation and memorised it, didn’t they?
Her first arrest also brought home her new powers as an officer. She says: ‘That was a new duty for me, arresting somebody and realising the impact of taking someone’s liberty.
Felt good, I bet.
Supt Blyth, a mother-of-three who is expecting her fourth grandchild soon, was assessed while on placements.
Who says motherhood is an impediment to a full-blown career! Take that, glass ceiling!
Okay, what we’re seeing above is absolutely typical of how most large, modern organisations are run these days. First you need to decide what your high-flyer looks like, and for many organisations being female is highly desirable if not essential. In the case of Portsmouth police, her being a mother and grandmother was probably a bonus in their eyes, too (as it was, no doubt, for the local criminals: if the bobby making their first arrest is a grandmother of three, then we can probably assume they have the run of the place). Next, you need to fast-track them into a senior position without delay, putting them through the absolute bare minimum of training necessary to deflect the inevitable criticism from the 95% of the organisation who are not deemed high-flyers. This is where “stints” come in.
There was a time when those seeking the higher echelons of an organisation would have to demonstrate both competence and time served. The former requirement was dropped some time ago in favour of blind obedience to one’s superiors, but at least they would be expected to do the necessary time. But the modern organisation has an image to project and diversity quotas to fill, and can’t hang around for years waiting for its golden boys and girls to obtain knowledge through experience. Instead they’re sent on a whirlwind tour of the organisation, spending barely a few weeks in one department before moving onto the next, so that at the end of the period the individual knows just enough about each part to be able to interfere and fuck things up once they’re in charge. Humility is in short supply among a modern high-flyer.
Anyone objecting to what is happening is told in no uncertain terms to shut up and stay on-message. Those who fail to heed the warnings are subject to enormous pressure from the surrounding management along with dark threats over their future career and continued employment, such that everyone falls into a silence, the sort which would make a high-flyer assume they are “really welcomed” by whichever department they’re foisted on that week.
All of this ties into what I said in this post, that pretty soon the smartest people, particularly ambitious young men, will not even bother joining large organisations and instead set up on their own to feed off the bloated carcasses of those who railroad grandmothers with one year’s service into the top job. In fact, I have a friend doing pretty much that. He is a rather large man with a bushy beard and tattoos and has a colourful history of mercenary work in Iraq before joining the security team of a prominent Russian billionaire. He has since set up his own security company and, from what I can tell, does rather well doing jobs the police used to do, plugging the gaps when they withdrew from law enforcement and became a branch of the social services. It’s not hard to see how doing this sort of work is more attractive than joining the police. His idea of diversity is ensuring you have several means of maiming people at your disposal at any given time.
I’d advise any smart young man about to graduate to get a firm understanding of what sort of chap he is and take a good look at the organisations trying to recruit him. Just have a look at their website and graduate brochure, that’ll be enough. Certainly the police Twitter feeds tell me everything I need to know about the state of the various forces in the UK, and this latest story from Portsmouth didn’t surprise me one bit. This is the new normal.