The scope of the role is vast, varied and critical to the success of the police force.
As an inspector, you’ll be on the front line of crime initiatives, providing leadership in challenging and difficult incidents.
On a day-to-day basis, you’ll lead and supervise a shift consisting of constables and sergeants. It’s about effectively using resources and managing budgets in the best way possible. Taking leadership and responsibility for major incidents, you’ll ensure that decisions taken are implemented efficiently and safely. You’ll always work to the highest standards, so that you can justify your actions and confidently handle complex and difficult situations. In short, this is a crucial leadership and operational role.
To thrive as an inspector, you’ll need to have flexible leadership skills, a willingness to challenge existing practices and a commitment to your own development. You’ll need to be confident at building partnerships and leading effective organisational change. This will be supported by your business skills and dedication to long-term, strategic visions. A creative thinker, you’ll always look to improve procedures and achieve the best outcomes.
Although you’ll hold the rank of inspector, you’ll undergo training as a constable and sergeant first. The programme combines classroom learning with operational training – giving you everything that you need to progress and showing you how to put it into practice. Ultimately, you’ll need the determination and confidence to manage your own professional development throughout the programme.
In this rotation, an experienced constable will tutor you. You’ll be at the front line of the criminal justice system – dealing with everything from child abuse and missing people to family feuds and community tensions. It’ll be the first opportunity for you to use your training effectively, turning theory into everyday practice.
With support, you’ll take responsibility for the general and technical supervision of officers and the wider team of police colleagues. You’ll manage resources, supervise investigations and keep a close eye on responses to critical incidents. This rotation will also see you conducting intelligence-driven briefings, taskings and debriefings, while also providing leadership to your team.
In just under a year, you’ll step into the role of an inspector. You’ll supervise constables and sergeants, plan and organise policing operations and set the strategy and response at critical incidents. Due to the 24-hour nature of the role, you might frequently find yourself as the most senior officer on duty.
The structure of the programme
The programme begins with a two-week orientation, including training in first aid and personal safety.
College of Policing – Module 1
This module aims to prepare you for your first operational rotation as a constable.
Police constable rotation
You’ll spend 14 weeks in the force, performing the role of constable with an experienced work-based coach.
College of Policing – Module 2
This module aims to prepare you to your first operational rotation as a sergeant and introduces the role of inspector.
You’ll spend 14 weeks in the force, performing the role of sergeant with a work-based coach.
College of Policing – Module 3
This module aims to prepare you to your inspector rotation - further developing risk management and decision-making skills.
You’ll spend 14 weeks in the force, performing the role of an inspector with a work-based coach.
College of Policing – Module 4
Module 4 is a three-week module aimed at developing your knowledge of complaints and discipline, performance management, leadership, change management and partnership working. Programme members are also assessed in an immersive learning environment that will test their operational competence.
Response Inspector with support rotation
You’ll spend 12 weeks in the force, during which, you’ll take responsibility for an operational team for the first time and have access to a mentor to support your development.
You’ll spend 25 weeks performing as an operational inspector.
College of Policing programme completion
Throughout the 24 months, you’ll undertake work-based assessments, inspectors’ knowledge exams, action research projects and immersive live incident management.
You’ll have until the end of your probationary period to complete the work-based assessment at inspector rank.
Detective Inspector Fiona Gaffney, Dorset Police
‘I love helping others but also enjoy bringing those who have hurt others to justice. I have always been extremely proud to be a police officer and the whole ethos of being a positive moral compass for the society I live in.’
39-year-old Fiona describes working for the police as challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. For her, a main benefit of joining the service is personal growth.
‘No matter what life you think you have lived, the experiences that being a police officer exposes you to will open you mind and make you a more rounded person.’
Fiona has worked in various inspector roles in her career and each has been completely different. As a neighbourhood inspector she needed partnership engagement, problem solving and performance management skills. As a critical incident inspector, she needed quick-time decision making, and was responsible as a ground commander at incidents, coordinating resources and prioritising tasks. In her current role as a detective inspector, she coordinates investigations, sets strategies and directs investigation resources.
‘All of these role have one thing in common – the need to deliver the best service possible to the public and to look after your team – their immediate welfare as well as longer-term development and support.’
Fiona’s current biggest challenge is managing competing demands.
‘Work is extremely busy, with limited resources to allocate tasks. This means careful thought must be given to each and every task given out, to ensure we make best use of officers’ time to manage the threat risk and harm.’
She admits that being a police officer is demanding and challenging, it is not an average nine-to-five job. It is a vocation.
‘You must have a passion for public service. There are many other jobs that are better paid and with quicker career progression, but none that offer you the ability to directly have a positive impact on another’s day, to make a devastating situation a little more bearable, to ensure that the young and old are kept safe, to put behind bars the most dangerous in society and be proportionate in dealing with those who just made a mistake.’
Fiona has a busy home life. She has a passion for endurance challenges and likes to keep fit and spending time outdoors running, swimming, rowing and cycling. Shift work has affected Fiona’s home life, but her family gives her a lot of support. She also receives a lot of support in-force with her career development, including informal mentoring, and has a clear development plan for progression.
‘No day is the same, no challenge identical. You will never have enough staff to do everything you want but you will have a group of individuals around you – staff and officers – who are dedicated to doing everything they can at that point to protect, investigate and bring offenders to justice.’
Inspector Steve Murfin, Metropolitan Police Service
‘You need to understand it's not a 9 to 5 job. You need to stay fit and healthy and you need to remember that you can have a major influence on somebody's life by helping them.’
36-year-old Steve has been in the Metropolitan Police Service for 12 years after graduating from university and then travelling for a year. He joined the police because he did not want a 9 to 5 office job. He wanted to be active, help people and make communities safer.
Steve has had a wide range of jobs and opportunities in the service and, as part of his job, he has been fortunate to experience different things in London and the surrounding areas. This has allowed him to get under the skin of the city, an opportunity that many others never receive. A keen triathlete, he has also worked at many sporting venues including Wimbledon, Wembley and the Tour De France, something he has a great passion for.
Steve is part of the rapid response team and he starts a typical day meeting with the preceding shift’s inspector for a handover. He attends a briefing with his team to get up to speed on the latest police intelligence and crime trends and, from thereon in, dealing with a range of incidents throughout the day. He has to manage his resources to respond to incoming 999 calls and the critical incidents that occur, as well as staff welfare.
‘I think that you need to have good communication skills coupled with a calm manner when dealing with multiple incidents at any one time,’ Steve said. ‘You need to have confidence but also display compassion when looking after your staff and members of the public.’
One of the biggest challenges Steve faces in his role is dealing with multiple critical incidents outside of core office hours when he is the senior officer on duty. However that does not deter him as he describes his experience working for the police as ‘fun, exhilarating and testing’. He brings enthusiasm to his team and motivates them by supporting and developing officers to the best of their abilities.
He believes policing is one of the more challenging jobs in the UK but with that it delivers the most job satisfaction.
Inspector Jerusha Lyseight-Jones, Thames Valley Police
‘You will experience moments, good or bad, that you will not forget. You really will make a difference to people’s lives.’
38 year-old Jerusha had previously worked in a variety of roles in the private sector, including new media and finance. Although successful in her career, she wanted a more fulfilling job with plenty of variety, which is why she chose to join the police service. The police service has provided Jerusha with everything she was looking for; ‘I have at times been acutely aware I have been party to historic moments. Such as the county force response to the London bombings, the Olympics, the London riots.’
Jerusha describes the role of an inspector as ‘straddling the frontline and more senior management.’ Inspectors are key decision makers for many operational responses, they maintain standards of work and behavior for their shifts as well as defend against some of the politics. A collaborator and strong leader, Jerusha also sets high standards of performance for her teams; ‘I bring an absolute belief in my teams and a desire to develop them and have them reach their own potential.’
As an inspector Jerusha needs to show resilience and remain calm under pressure, be a strategic thinker as well as make quick-time decisions. She says courage and compassion are also important qualities. ‘The job is great and you get to be part of history sometimes. But you will also be under pressure and have restrictions placed on your life. Think about what you would like from a job, rather than just wanting to be a police officer, as it’s not all driving around on blue lights, so it may not be what you expect.’
Jerusha describes working for the service as life affirming, fun and challenging. One of challenges she found was having the courage to make big decisions often in changing and ambiguous situations. ‘Whilst you may like additional information and time, sometimes you have to make a call on what you have and continue to monitor and adjust as needs be.’
A keen horse rider and chorister, Jerusha has found shift work has impacted on her home life and admits it can be emotionally demanding when she has had a heavy day. However there are also ample opportunities; ‘I was successful in gaining a place on a professional exchange to Argentina in 2011, and my force offers a variety of support, including coaching and mentoring, and there are lots of courses available. I think the professional development courses for promotion are excellent, the content and ability to share experiences and best practice with your peers is great.’