The superintendent role is hugely challenging and highly respected. You’ll use your strategic experience as a senior manager to positively impact the lives of people around you.
Your priority will be to maintain law and order, protect members of the public, prevent crime and improve quality of life for all citizens. You’ll do this by determining the key concerns of communities – concentrating on everything from safety and the prevention of crime, to antisocial behaviour and social inclusion.
To help you achieve these goals, you’ll have nearly 200 staff under your command. A key part of role is to maintain the personal security of others and manage resources in a successful way. You’ll potentially head up the unit – enforcing operational policy, establishing the force’s strategic plan and managing significant budgets. As a result, organisational performance will improve and this will positively impact the communities you serve.
As this role is so senior, you’ll also be expected to join an ‘on-call’ rota. During this time you must be contactable, often at unsociable hours, to manage serious risks and make critical decisions about active operations. Flexible and resilient, you’ll thrive under pressure and enjoy the challenge of working to time-critical deadlines.
While you don’t need to have previous experience in policing, you’ll need to have an extensive background in senior leadership. Through a proven track record of improving organisational performance and with good commercial awareness, you’ll effectively deal with the challenge of continuing budget reductions.
Above all, you’ll be able to demonstrate how you’re a confident, resilient and innovative leader. Future facing, you’ll challenge existing culture and practices within policing. With outstanding communication skills, you’ll influence key stakeholders and foster relationships with senior partners. You’ll naturally instil confidence and inspire best practice within the teams you lead.
Importantly, you’ll have the strength of character to cope with distressing situations and make rational decisions quickly. You’ll confidently adapt to ever-evolving situations – always making sure that you make sense of ambiguous information and complex intelligence.
Training and support
During the 18-month programme, you’ll receive all the training and support you’ll need to become an outstanding superintendent. Importantly, you’ll gain first-hand experience of the different ranks, up to and including superintendent – with support and guidance at every step.
Your force will take responsibility for most of your training through operational rotations at constable, sergeant, inspector and superintendent rank. The College of Policing will also provide support at regular points throughout the 18 months. This means you’ll be given a mentor, a tailored personal development plan, leadership coaching and media training.
Importantly, you’ll benefit from the experience and knowledge of experts from across policing and partner organisations. The programme aims to get the very best out of you through a combination of training methods that include case studies, classroom inputs and immersive learning that simulates real-life police operations.
By the end of the programme, you’ll be able to lead your teams with focus and visions, make tough decisions with tact and tackle challenges with confidence.
What you’ll learn
The learning outcomes of the programme reflect the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours that a superintendent must have. You’ll then be able to work safely, professionally, ethically and effectively in operational and non-operational environments.
After completing the programme, you’ll be able to demonstrate:
- systematic knowledge and understanding of the broad policing and public policy challenges and contending perspectives, discourses and conceptual debates in policing, law enforcement and criminal justice
- detailed knowledge and understanding of strategic leadership and management theory in a policing context
- critical awareness of new insights and an evolving, evidence-based approach to policing to inform future professional practice in policing
- comprehensive knowledge of the regulations, procedures and legislation relevant to the rank of uniformed police superintendent.
The programme begins with a two-week orientation, including training in first aid and personal safety.
College of Policing – Module 1
This is a 10-week module aimed at preparing you for your first operational rotation as a constable and is co-delivered with the inspector programme.
Police constable rotation
You’ll spend 12 weeks in the force, performing the role of constable with the support of an experienced work-based coach. At the front-line of the criminal justice system, you’ll be dealing with everything from child abuse and sudden deaths, to family feuds and building confidence in the community. This rotation will be the first opportunity for you to use your training, turning theory into everyday practice.
College of Policing – Module 2
During this four-week module, you’ll be prepared for your operational sergeant/inspector rotation.
You’ll spend 14 weeks in the force, performing the roles of sergeant and inspector, with the support of a work-based coach. During the sergeant rotation, again with daily support, you’ll take responsibility for the general and technical supervision of officers and the wider team of police colleagues. This rotation will see you managing resources, supervising investigations and keeping a close eye on responses to critical incidents. You’ll also conduct intelligence-driven briefings, taskings and debriefings, and provide leadership to your team.
You’ll also perform the role of an inspector - supervising constables and sergeants. It’s about planning, organising and directing the work of a team of police officers, while also managing police operations and setting strategy at critical incidents.
College of Policing – Module 3
This is a three-week module where you’ll further develop your risk management and decision-making skills – all in preparation for your superintendent rotation.
You’ll spend 14 weeks in force, performing the role of a superintendent with the support of a work-based coach.
College of Policing – Module 4
Module 4 is a two-week module aimed at developing your knowledge of complaints and discipline, performance management, leadership, change management and partnership working. You’ll also be assessed in an immersive learning environment, which will test your operational competence.
Superintendent leadership (with support)
You’ll spend 12 weeks in force, developing your own superintendent portfolio of work. During this time, you’ll have access to a mentor to support your development.
College of Policing programme and probation completion
Throughout the 18 months, you’ll undertake work-based assessment, a bespoke superintendents’ knowledge exam and action research projects. Subject to successful completion of all elements of assessment and agreement of the College and force chief officer, you’ll complete the programme and exit probation.
Direct Entry Superintendent Biography - Liz Hughes
Liz was previously head of Safer Communities at Hackney Council, responsible for joint teams of police, probation, Victim Support and other community safety partners. Liz had also been the lead for Hackney’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and was a member of the Safeguarding Adults and Safeguarding Children Boards. She redesigned the community safety service to respond to increasing antisocial behaviour and noise issues in the borough as the night-time economy developed in recent years. Liz’s previous roles include three years as head of policy and professional standards at the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Liz was also a special constable in Hackney for two years.
Liz comes to her new role with plenty of insight into the world of policing. She has relished the opportunity to become part of the police service and is ‘thrilled’ to be on the Direct Entry Superintendent programme: ‘It’s a massive learning curve – humbling, inspiring and a hugely responsible role.’
Direct Entry Superintendent Biography - Elisabeth Chapple
Elisabeth joined the Direct Entry Superintendent programme from Santander where she was head of Human Resources. Before that role, Elisabeth worked at senior levels in tax and human resources for global accountancy and business advisory firms KPMG, PwC and BDO. She has significant experience developing and implementing change programmes in large and complex organisations.
Elisabeth describes herself as ‘future-focused’, someone who thinks long-term and coordinates different activities to achieve the outcome she wants. She went from world-leading accountancy and business advisory firms to head of HR at Santander all in the space of five years. During this time, Elisabeth gained significant experience of developing and implementing change programmes in large and complex organisations. Now based with the MPS in Wandsworth, Elisabeth has been particularly interested to meet borough commanders and their teams. She enjoys coaching and helping groups and individuals to succeed – which bodes well for her team in Wandsworth.
Direct Entry Superintendent Biography - Adam Thomson
‘The superintendent role is an ideal position to come in and make change’
Adam joined the police service from the Royal Air Force where his most recent role was working in operational resourcing for the Ministry of Defence. During his 20 years’ experience in the military, he led teams in places such as in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been responsible for operations in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) units, the protection of airbases and was a staff officer in the United Nations mission in Sudan.
As a Direct Entry Superintendent, Adam now has the chance to bring his extensive leadership experience to a different but equally challenging environment.
Adam believes the largest benefit of joining the programme and the police service has been to continue his career in ‘something that I feel I can make a difference, can influence inside the organisation, influence communities, take that forward, and progress my learning and leadership style in a new environment.’
Following his completion of the programme, Adam will assume responsibility for York as a district commander.
Direct Entry Superintendent Biography - Paul Clements
Before entering the Direct Entry Superintendent programme, Paul led the Bank of England’s emergency lending and crisis operations function. In 2012, he was seconded to the European Commission to represent them alongside the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in the Troika Irish bailout plan. Before working at the Bank of England, Paul was a manager at professional services firm KPMG, where he was responsible for their central government policy function. Paul’s first taste of police work came in 2008/9 with KPMG – he designed and implemented new processes to release frontline officer resources for Wiltshire Police and Thames Valley Police.
Click here to watch Paul give his personal perspective on the Direct Entry programme and his new role.
Direct Entry Superintendent Biography - James Collis
‘It comes down to public service for me.’
James previously worked in local government for nearly 12 years. He is now a serving superintendent for Brighton and Hove where he is responsible for neighbourhood policing and partnerships.
James joined the police service from Croydon Council where he had led on aspects of welfare reform and led the council’s emergency planning, business continuity and security function.
These previous roles gave James the opportunity to work closely with the police and his can-do attitude, team spirit and leadership skills made him an ideal candidate for the Direct Entry Superintendent programme. Wanting a new challenge and being keen to serve the public, James joined the programme in 2014 and has now made the successful transition from civilian leader to police leader.
James has found police officers and staff alike to be ‘overwhelmingly accepting of him and supportive despite what their views on direct entry may be’. He believes the support given by both the College of Policing and his new policing colleagues, firstly in Avon and Somerset and now in Sussex, to be very beneficial. He looks forward to developing new ways of thinking and working within the police as well as being part of cultural change within the service.
Superintendent Jay Dave Case Study
Recently promoted to superintendent from chief inspector, Tanzanian-born Jay Dave has been a serving officer with South Wales Police for 27 years after graduating from Queen Mary’s College London with a BSc in biology.
He joined the police because he knew the service could offer a lot of variety. He wanted job satisfaction and prospects as well as a rewarding career with a huge range of challenges. ‘I’ve wanted to be a cop since I was 17,’ Jay said, ‘and the skills and experience I’ve developed has made me a respected and well-rounded person’.
Describing the police as ‘rewarding, varied and fast-paced’, Jay cites the skills of a superintendent as those of managing people, leadership, negotiating and influencing, managing performance, partnership working, strategic thinking and the ability to work with partners on those objectives. His role is an extremely busy and varied one and Jay employs a few tactics to ensure he does not get distracted from the priorities of the day and can strike a balance between delegating and doing. ‘I am a scientific analytical person,’ he says. ‘That’s how I see problems and solutions. I am a people person so spend time building trust and maintaining relationships’.
An active member of the South Wales Black Police Association, and a cabinet member of the National Black Police Association, Jay is proud to bring his diverse background to the job and promotes the police service as reflecting the whole of society with many different types of people as serving officers and staff.
Superintendent Jenny Barnett, Metropolitan Police Service
‘I would recommend the Direct Entry Superintendent programme to those who enjoy designing and engaging others in change.’
45-year-old Jenny joined the Direct Entry Superintendent programme in 2014, graduating as a superintendent with the Metropolitan Police Service in May 2016. Before becoming a police officer, she had forged a successful career in civil service and public sector management.
‘My HR experience from the public sector has been incredibly useful in my new role, as has my experience of managing multi-sited teams across a wide expanse.’
Jenny had reservations about joining the service, as policing is different to her previous roles, in that there is ‘a requirement to manage dynamic risk in the moment. But this is also what makes it to attractive.’
She discovered the main benefits of joining the police service have been ‘working with police officers who are inspired to bring about real change internally which will make a difference to the community, and working with members of the community and partners who are committed to improving the lives of residents.’
Describing working for the police exhilarating, inspiring and at times frustrating, Jenny has been made to feel extremely welcome among her fellow officers. A typical day for her as a superintendent usually starts with chairing a morning management meeting. This is her opportunity to assess resources, risks and opportunities for the day and make adjustments where needed. Jenny will then check the custody suite to get a good picture of what is being dealt with and where she may be called upon to assist. She will also make herself available to deal with any authorisations of various natures that are required.
Jenny will then attend scheduled meetings in her borough, at her local authority or in central London at MPS Headquarters. These meetings cover anything from local safeguarding to London-wide projects.
‘Officers pop in and out of my office, with various requests or updates throughout the day. Towards the end of the day, after all the meetings, I try to catch up on emails and plan for the following day.’
Jenny has found the most challenging aspect of her role as a superintendent is ‘challenging the status quo when everyone around you has grown up with it.’ However her tenacity, patience and humility ensure she continues to strive for progression and change within the police service.
A keen runner and a mother of three small children, Jenny found the requirement to be away from home for extensive periods of time difficult but manageable with childcare and her supportive husband.
‘The shift work is for a specific period of time and it’s critical in building relationships and understanding of the role. Shifts are known a long way ahead of time, which makes it more manageable. I am able to largely manage my diary on a day-to-day basis to fit with home life.’
Jenny has found her new career to be extremely rewarding, and would encourage anyone thinking of applying to join the Direct Entry Superintendent programme to spend some time going out with police teams and with a superintendent in the force for which you are applying.
Superintendent Rob Applegarth, Metropolitan Police Service
‘If you're motivated by public service and willing to put your colleagues and the requirements of the job above your own personal interests, then don't hesitate to apply.’
40-year old Rob was looking for a role motivated by public service when he decided to apply for the Direct Entry Superintendent programme. Joining the police service offered him the opportunity to ‘make a real difference and be involved in addressing challenging social issues.’
After graduating from university, Rob joined the Army as an officer, where after a 10 year career he moved to the private sector, working in fund management in the City before joining the police. One of the best things about working for the police is that there is no typical day. ‘The complexities of the role, the range of policing responsibilities, and variety of roles means that no two days are alike. I'm privileged to work with a supportive, committed group of people. I’ve had a real insight into the challenges facing our society and am well placed to be part of the solution to these challenges.’
In his role as a superintendent for the Metropolitan Police Service, Rob knows that the ability to make ‘effective risk aware decisions often in the face of competing demands and imperfect information is key’. ‘The role requires rapid assimilation of complex information and an ability to prioritise resources to support this decision making process. Superintendent roles are varied, but the ability to form effective partnerships and communicate with a wide range of people in different settings is vital.’ ‘For me, identifying what information is material and rapidly identifying this from within immaterial information has been vital.
For Rob, the most challenging aspect about his new job is being in the first cohort of Direct Entry superintendents. ‘This has meant that there has been a significant amount of interest in how we would perform and having the challenge of learning a new role at the same time as demonstrating the value of the programme has meant for a busy, challenging, but ultimately satisfying experience.’ He had reservations about how he would be received by his fellow police officers; ‘This has been entirely alleviated by the supportive welcome I have received. Even where people had concerns around the programme that has not impacted on the level of personal support I have received.’
He found shift work, the training and assessment did have an impact on his family life, ‘However any meaningful role will require a balance to be found; the police service is very much focused on work life balance and I have also always been supported in achieving this.’ Describing working for the service as challenging, inspiring, and a privilege, Rob says ‘The variety, challenge and people mean I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the role to others.’