Pukaar Magazine’s Managing Editor, Romail Gulzar met Simon Cole, Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police to discuss the business side of policing.
The glamorous façade of Policing often overshadows its services behind the scenes. At the forefront of crime, it can be difficult to see past the uniform and authority. Leicestershire Police was Founded 180 years ago in 1836, when the now City Council decided to invest money and professionalise policing. The department have an astounding 168 million pound turnover, have all the functionalities of a big business and are a significant employer with around 1800 cops and 1300 staff, but why do many people still undermine policing as being a business?
Simon Cole started his role as Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police back in June 2010 and explains that those aspiring to senior roles, including his must complete policing modules at business school in order to progress. He explains briefly the functions that ensure the Leicestershire police department runs smoothly: “The law requires that I have a finance director and have to respond to the police and crime plan. Behind the scenes I also have a HR, finance and IT team. We’re a big business and a big employer and obviously sometimes those things aren’t as glamorous as some of the other things that we deal with, but it’s none the less important.”
As Chief Constable, Simon has responsibilities like any other business senior. He has to know his way around a balance sheet and work out ways to maximise his budget, as well as following a strategic business model: “Our back office functions are amongst the leanest in the country, in terms of our estate spending and those who work really hard in our offices to enable the front end staff deliver really complex investigations, physical presence and whatever else is needed from us. Our business model is quite reflective of feedback using surveys to get a feel for what it’s like to do business with us and about making sure the most dangerous and risky people are put in prison, through legitimate and ethical means to keep people safe. That’s probably where we’re slightly different to other businesses ”
Along with the many departments, there is a communication team working hard to explain the services the Leicestershire Police provide, making it more accessible to the public enabling them to use their services. Simon makes it clear that this outreach is far from making money but more about keeping the public safe: “If people get that help, it’s pretty empathetic and supportive and we will do what we can to help them, that’s what they want to know about us but our business model, our change programme and our continuous improvement model, they’re not dreadfully bothered by, but it is all there.” What grates on Simon is the lack of recognition for this side of policing: “There’s that old story that people tell with the president of America asking the lady pushing the tea trolley around at NASA, what she was doing and she said; putting men on the moon. There is an element for our support functions that they are putting people out on patrol and putting detectives into murder investigations. Our team are trying to make that process as seamless as possible. The social purpose of policing is about keeping people safe and protecting them from harm, but to do it you need people to support you and to metaphorically, help you get to the moon.”