A review from the College of Policing calls for less hierarchy in British police forces, involving a flatter management structure and more teamwork. It rejects what it calls the "heroic model" of leadership, in which officers simply carry out the will of the chief constable, and says that rank hierarchy tends to reduce the willingness of some officers to follow best practice and strive to develop themselves.
Today Alex Marshall, the College of Policing’s chief
executive constable, told BBC Radio 4’s Today
programme that there was an "insular attitude" and that chief
constables often failed to listen to officers. He said there was a need for the
police service to address issues of hierarchy, culture and consistency.
What is true of the police is true of other agencies that
work in the field of child protection. If old-style command and control
structures are dysfunctional for the police, they will be just as dysfunctional
in other agencies. Organisations dealing with complex social problems and
safety critical situations need to have organisational designs that are suited
to the task. Flatter structures, less hierarchical cultures and managers who
see their roles as being supportive of practice, not directive, are essential.
There needs to be recognition that people at the front line
are often better placed to take decisions than those up the management tree,
who often only have a partial grasp of the facts. It is vital to place an
emphasis on practice, allowing practitioners to remain in practice, not having
to move into management; to develop, and be rewarded for developing, increased
If local authorities children’s services departments in England want to
rise to the challenge set by the Department of Education, and to meet ministers
claims that they are less flexible and less able to innovate than private or
voluntary sector organisations, they need to start building structures and
cultures that promote flexibility and innovation. They need to become as at
least as ‘flat’ and as flexible and as non-hierarchical as Alex Marshall is
calling for the police to be or, even better, more so.