New insights on police culture
: a critical evaluation of direct entry into senior leadership roles in the police service

  • Richard Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In March 2012, Sir Tom Winsor published an ‘Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions’. This wide-ranging appraisal of the police service made a number of recommendations. One of the most controversial (recommendation 19) was that a direct entry pathway into policing,at the superintendent rank, should be established. In November 2014, the first cohort of direct entry superintendents commenced an 18-month training course,intended to equip them with the knowledge and skills to become senior police leaders.
This thesis presents the findings of a study that followed the development of these officers as they progressed through their training and into roles as operational superintendents and concludes by proposing a ‘blended leadership model for policing’. The direct entry officers were interviewed at regular intervals throughout their training, to capture their reflections on this unique experience. Influential stakeholders from the chief officer ranks, staff associations and elsewhere also took part in this research. A focus on police culture and police leadership was used to contextualise the data that was collected.
It was found that parts of the police service are insular and shackled by a lack of creativity and innovation. It was also identified that police culture doesn’t always welcome new perspectives. Importantly, it is argued that the service does not widely recognise that these issues exist and so is not equipped to resolve them from within. The direct entry superintendents were found to be engaging, motivated and credible professionals. They bring to their new roles a wealth of experience. This includes experience of delivering tangible outcomes for their previous organisations and also experience of leading people. These individuals are committed to public service and are mindful of the significant responsibility that they are accepting. The first 18 months of their service has been challenging. As the first cohort of direct entry officers, the College of Policing’s training course was in no way established. The superintendents were to experience significant pockets of resistance to the direct entry scheme. This was evidenced during the recruitment process, through face-to-face interactions with senior officers during training and also in the workplace. Opposition to this new pathway into the service has also been particularly evident on social media platforms. Multiple entry points into the police service are now established. The third cohort of direct entry superintendents will soon be commencing their training. There are significant research opportunities associated with this,including further exploration of culture and leadership perspectives as well as further review of operational capability and competence by direct entry officers.
Date of AwardSept 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBarry Loveday (Supervisor)

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