The forgotten pillar: putting frontline officers at the core of transformation

How focusing on the front line is critical to successful transformation in law enforcement
| minute read

The last two decades in the security and borders sector have seen their fair share of transformation programmes. At the outset, many programmes set out the ‘pillars’ of transformation – usually a variation on ‘vision, customer trends, technology, value realisation’ and other similar themes. One thing that is frequently missing is a specific pillar or focus on the front line. The ‘people’ element can all too often feel like an unloved relation to ‘process’ and ‘technology’. Yet it’s those on the front line of law enforcement who will, ultimately, determine whether transformation is successful. So, when it comes to transformation, how can officers be more involved?  

Integrate the front line into your transformation programme

It’s often said there is no such thing as a ‘technology’ project and that all projects should be driven by desired outcomes and the best way to achieve them. In the real world, we see complex transformations being driven by technology every day. Yet it’s too easy to forget about the role frontline law enforcement officers play in designing, implementing, adopting and realising a transformation programme’s goals. They understand first-hand the impact of changes to a policy, process and technology and should be a core part of the pillars that make up a transformation programme. From the very beginning and throughout, those programmes that integrate the front line into the scope, structure and governance of a transformation programme, achieve better outcomes.

Actively create the culture the organisation needs

There is general consensus that frontline law enforcement must have a culture that is flexible, adaptable and that responds positively to continuous change; is driven by data alongside professional experience; and supports vulnerable people. The starkest technology driver (and challenge) to this culture is automation, which can bring many benefits, not least a reduction in manual tasks to release the front line for more high-value work. But without the right culture, the benefits of automation are reduced because the front line isn’t ready, able or supported to adapt to change.  

Setting out the culture of an organisation is easy. Changing it is not. Culture change permeates everything an organisation does – from its mission, through to recruitment, management, policies, communications, learning and development, reward and recognition. Organisations with a law enforcement front line, must recognise the need to address this challenge holistically and with vigour. If they do, it will be a more attractive place to work, and employees will respond positively and better adapt to change.

Create the space to think strategically

When the day-to-day work is about preventing crime, protecting borders and keeping people safe, it’s easy to see why strategic workforce planning might not be the priority. Yet the fact remains that organisations are more successful in their operational objectives if they have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time.

It’s only through a strategic approach to workforce planning that the sector will achieve the highest levels of future productivity. That’s because, despite the best efforts of frontline officers, if organisations don’t know where a particular officer is best deployed - or aren’t accurately predicting what skills officers will need in the future, productivity and performance will be hindered. Having a workforce strategy, alongside the right ways of working, culture, processes, tools and technology to make it a reality, is vital to getting the best out of an organisation’s greatest asset – its people. 



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