Naming a civilian as the Governments preferred candidate for the post of Chief Inspector is provocative. After all he has already had the police marching through the streets of London in protest at his proposed sweeping changes to pay and conditions. This government seems to favour a confrontational leadership style. The recently appointed head of Ofsted has antagonised head teachers and their staff across the country with his talk of dawn inspection raids on schools and his comment that if morale in the teaching profession was at rock bottom he must be doing something right. So whilst this would be a provocative appointment signalling that the government wanted a fight with rank and file police officers I don’t think it is inappropriate that he is a civilian.
I see no good reason why the person with oversight for the whole police force needs to be a former police officer. His background as a lawyer is relevant and the principle of not requiring a professional background in the service you manage is well established in other parts of the Public Sector. You do not have to have been a teacher to be a head teacher, a social worker to be Director of Social Services or a Doctor to be Chief Executive of an NHS Trust. What you do need for all these posts is managerial skills and leadership qualities.
So let’s challenge the provocative nature of the appointment but let’s do it for the right reasons.
Blair McPherson author of People management in a harsh financial climate and other books on management and leadership in the public sector. Follow Blair on Twitter @blairmcpherson1