Thursday, 31 March 2011

Apply controls without strangling the business

I know I have just done one blog but there is a phrase in it that I think needs a little explanation as I think it really does sum up the challenge facing senior managers in many organisations, not just the police
But since this is about me and my context is the police then here goes..........

Applying controls without strangling the business.

How do we ensure that when we are creating policy, that we are not, through some inadvertant action, "strangling the business" ?
How easy it is to respond to something that has gone wrong by banning something, reacting with a macho "never again" attitude ?
How easy it would be to just shut things down or create a range of measures that prevent action rather than support it ?

A leadership culture is needed that acknowledges the presence of risk,but seeks to manage that risk not avoid it all together.
Without reference to the vernacular we know that some times Things Happen. How we react, particularly as senior management in redesigning or re-engineering the policy context, defines us as leaders.

I would like to think that I would not over-react, or put in place a multi-layerd strategy, even with good intent, that stops my staff from acting or delivering to our objectives.
Yet as well as having an open mind to such a possibility, how will I know? In an organisation that is a command hierachy, how can I ensure that my staff will let me know if I do re-engineer a policy, and in so doing, create chaos.

Two skills therefore needed..

1. The ability to appreciate the possible or likely consequences of a change or a new requirementon staff ability to work effectively

2. The creation of an environment where despite the "rank structure" people feel free to outline unintended consequences in such time that allows speedy correction

I suppose this also dictates that for 2 above to succeed we need

3. The ability to accept criticism and fix things, having the humilty to change when necessary.

So if I ever apply controls that strangle the organisation...............let me know


A timely reminder about Data security

This week I attended a seminar on how to be a SIRO, Senior Information Risk Owner
In other words how to protect the organisation from data abuse.

In an age where we are trying to encourage staff to use data and information properly it was useful to be reminded of how things go wrong. In particular we looked at a few examples across the UK and how disaster can be avoided.

The role and value of data and information has changed and become much more valuable as an asset to our organisation
In essence information is;
o   A political issue
o   A key asset
o   A toxic liability
So we considered the challenges that face all organisations and specifically by senior managers. These included:

a.       There is less money to spend on protection. It is seen as an overhead
b.      Sometimes there is a lack of Board support
c.       Whatever we do, we need to “apply controls without strangling the business”
d.      Our response needs to be Proportionate
e.       As well as our own people we need to manage the access of external partners
f.       We must create and deliver a mature approach with staff
g.      We need to make data security relevant to staff

The challenge to leaders therefore is to Lead and Foster cultural change in a rapidly changing technological world.

Whilst we try to create the right balance we need to understand that people coming into our organisations have different expectations and understanding of what technology can do.

CPNI good practice guidance on their website

We considered why people abuse data and information. These included
o   Personal Financial benefit
o   Coercion by another
o   Revenge against an individual group or the organisation
o   A sense of Noble Cause
o   For Political benefit either party or other
o   Perhaps even to gain a sense of Emotional gain

In other words there are a range of reasons and these are not unique or exclusive

It was a useful session delivered well by the NPIA and particularly the ACPO lead.

A very valuable day…………… where did I put that USB.Drive

Monday, 28 March 2011

Thoughts about Saturday

So Saturday was the Big March.

Anywhere between 300 and 500,000 peaceful protesters protesting. All magnificently managed by the Met supported by other forces. The TUC stewards creating safe cordons and providing lots of infomation for attendees. Liberty supporting the operation. A real test of collaboration and co-operation.

Alongside that a bunch of people intent on causing mayhem, teasing the police, running around and the naive hiding behind the aggressive. Stand behind someone damaging property, then walk inside and play innocent. Then whinge when you are arrested.

And of course, then moan about "the police did this", "they did that" then "they shouldnt do something else".
The officers, I believe from what I saw, behaved with extreme consideration and with a determination not to provoke any missunderstandings. Despite this they were harrassed and goaded by several who were out to make grief.

What some people seem to forget is that you cannot have rights without responsibilities. We all have the right to demonstrate and we alll must therefore shoulder the responsibility to do it peacfully and with regard to others. In a previous life, I have marched into Birmingham about cuts in education. I have led demonstrations and have experienced the pain of negotiating routes, rules and requirements with the local police. It has to be done. And on Saturday there was massive evidence of such negotiation, and this has been supported by many commentators since.

Then of course we have the ex cops who are rolled out whenever they need someone to say something controversial. Usually from an era when such painstaking care was not as visible.

My sympathy and concern goes out to those officers and staff injured or covered in paint by those causing grief. How does throwing paint over a police officer indicate your understanding of what is happening. Cops have rights.

So well done the Met at the weekend I say. You did a great job. No doubt there were things to learn but most of all a large and peaceful demo took place involving hundreds of thousands of people, safely. The antics of Oxford Street et al, clearly distracted from the main event.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011



I am at the Essex Kent or Kent Essex conference re Collaboration. An impressive array of speakers and views. Well done you two, and professionally supported by NPIA with some great sponsors.

Some thoughts so far.

Within the service we are faced with a real challenge of creating an affordable and balanced budget against considerable reductions in income.
This equates to about 20% over the next few years.
A simple option is to “salami slice” budget headings in equal proportion. This is not the most effective approach as it fails to recognise certain priorities like supporting visible patrol or the provision of basic support to deliver services

Having identified a range of priorities and outlined those areas that could take a disproportionate cut, a budget emerges.

At the same time we are undertaking a massive programme of reform including ISIS, NCA,ECA the demise of NPIA, Wasserman Review, Neyroud review of management and of course Winsor and Hutton. With Winsor 2 to come soon.

We are also being courted by the private sector and asked to open up to outsourcing or collaboration with either them, or other forces.

On top of this mergers are essentially out.

An interesting time to be a police leader, as well as the day job of delivering policing.

Today we have several definitions of collaborating ranging from the dictionary to the literal.
A range of people outlining how it has worked to create savings in forces such as Kent and Essex as well as others.

The challenges create some interesting questions about governance and speed of delivery. But nonetheless some really useful examples of how to work closer. All served up with a taste of reality that the HMIC will again be popping in to see how we are doing.

Views from the Policing Minister and others suggest that we are slow at collaboration. Others, that we have done more than other sectors.

On first analysis we will need to analyse all the contributions today and come to some conclusions.

I did like the simple approach from one speaker who identified the need for:

1.      Agreeing the benefits
2.      Speed up the decision making
3.      Get the 3 enablers (IT £ and HR) right at the start
4.   Above all, accept that any collaboration will produce benefits beyond cash.

The final comment, that you will never get it all worked out before the agreement, was helpful. Equally that there needs to be a high level of trust throughout, is also essential

A useful day and some valuable networking with colleagues, both police and private sector.

More tomorrow

Finally thanks for the bottles of water on the seats. A thoughtful gesture form NPIA, to celebrate World Water Day

Monday, 21 March 2011

Growing the Big Society rather than designing it

In the recent drive to create the Big Society there is a risk that we convince ourselves that this is an entirely new concept and so denigrate the excellent work of people who have worked tirelessly to deliver a range of public services voluntarily.

Take the Lakes area. If you crash on the M6 the public sector will attend, get you sorted and off to hospital if needsbe

But fall up Helvellyn, or get stuck cragfast on Sharpe Edge and look who gets you out. The Mountain Rescue Teams of Cumbria will be called out, trained skilled and experienced dedicated crew will work with local people and local police and ambulance to help you.

Their involvement in the rescue is essential.

They are volunteers yet provide an essential service blending with other public sector services and fully integrated. Outstanding.

Then look at the scores of volunteers supporting the construction of paths, clearing waste and keeping the Lakes safe. They are linked to local business and emergency agencies providing support to those visiting and living in this part of the UK.

Helping to make this work, huge doses of goodwill and a ruthless determination to keep the place going whatever the weather whatever the conditions.

We can learn a great deal from this integrated approach proving support to a leisure economy and working with locals and visitors alike.

The Lakes is not unique within the UK, and we should recognise and appreciate the Big Society that already exists before we adopt its principles elsewhere or before we add the other aspects of the new Big Society
We cannot afford to lose any of that goodwill, expertise or commitment by underestimating the huge value they provide.

So Big Society, visit, listen, learn and then borrow with pride.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Social media and the Police

Last week ACPO brought some people together to look at the way we are addressing Social Media. Or should we call it Social Networking?  I will use SN/M) Either way the Social comes first.

Gordon Scobbie DCC from Tayside has done some excellent work trying to bring ACPO Policy forward and it is good to see that it will be discussed at the forthcoming ACPO Conference.
ACPO itself has a range of policies but perhaps has no strategy.

The point of this blog is to address whether there should in fact be a strategy or whether the whole SN/M environment is moving so fast that a traditional strategy approach, including consultation, risk assessments and assorted policy option, will work.

In a recent presentation to SASIS I offered a few questions as my final slide these are:

      How do we use Social Media AND prevent abuse?
      How do we engage AND reflect before informing?
      What can you do to keep us safe to protect you?
      How can I keep my staff technically able?

So some comments on each

How do we use Social Media AND prevent abuse?
I think the issue here is how much do you trust your staff? And how risk averse do you want to be? Police officers, particularly, walk or drive the streets of the UK with Guns, CS Gas, Expanding Batons and have the power to seriously mess up a citizens day.
Yet many of us prevent them from accessing Facebook or Twitter. Mostly for fear that our staff will either waste time or do something to bring them, or us, into disrespect.
Simple management could prevent the former issue backed up with analysis and a ruthless determination to prevent abuse. The latter issue is managed by developing the trust relationship with staff

How do we engage AND reflect before informing?
This is the thinking gap between the construction of a comment and the posting. Simply, you can’t manage it through the normal organisational management rules. However, you can be considerate to those who make honest mistakes, and to offer sensible advice to those who may write something that is a little “different” and potentially insulting. The policy of “Just do It” is one that needs to be balanced against simple guidance to keep people out of trouble.

What can you do to keep us safe to protect you?
Posting SN/M is no good as a one way process. Many commentators on police tweets criticise us for being too “corporate” or not replying. It must not be one way flow. Web sites are here for the corporate message and the one way communications. However as we move into the SN/M environment we need to learn to be interactive and respond ASAP to questions and queries. Sometimes that is not possible.  But we should at least acknowledge the question then seek and answer.
Likewise we need the advice and guidance of better informed commentators and sometimes commercial providers to keep us safe to provide opportunities to protect our citizens.

How can I keep my staff technically able?
I think that the use of SN/M will provide staff with technical and communication skills that would otherwise have to be delivered in a classroom or simply ignored. I think getting our own staff to use contemporary communications tools is not just important, it is invaluable, if we want to keep policing relevant to our citizens

So, in trying to fulfil the criteria I set out in the first blog. My thoughts are that we should do everything possible to get our staff using SN/M. This brings a host of risks and problems. To allow and encourage use requires a different kind of leadership. Perhaps a leadership that is reasonable in addressing risk, yet supportive when criticism is made.
I hope that this blog creates some comments and some response.

If you want to respond, just do it.

Thanks for reading this

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

2nd Post IT in Organisations

Today we had an excellent day with Microsoft looking at a range of issues. They were helpful and challenging as were my staff. So despite what people think of the MS giant they do listen. So well done them. This blog isn’t about MS however it’s about how does an organisation keep up to date with effective and efficient technology that matches its culture,  against a backdrop of cutting spend across the budget.

So below are a series of questions I am now asking that I will share with you. Please feel free to provide answers, suggestions or any comment

1.      How do you strike a relationship with a supplier whose aim is to create future demand and revenue, when you need them to advise on how to sweat the product you already have?
2.      In creating your corporate partnering how can you be assured that the technology you already have is being used to its full?
3.      How can you ensure that your staff will be able to adapt to any new technological change should it be staged or big bang. Should it be trained or user led?
4.      When balancing budgets how do you compare the benefits of future investments for more efficiency, against cutting current spending?
5.      Should you switch off access to some software  such as Excel in order to drive people to use corporate  data-systems?
6.      Is it better to have a full on relationship with a main national provider or go for local suppliers and design the technology in-house?

These are just 6 little questions that no doubt others will be asking. Striking a balance between the needs of the organisation, the abilities and capacity of the workforce, and the ever decreasing budget is making the IT environment especially interesting

Nationally we have a range of strategies and options to add further issues to the above.

I am confident we will find a solution.

Monday, 14 March 2011

First comments

One of my guides asked me to cover some of the work of HTCC and Polcyb. HTCC is an online group of about 2000 Hi tech investigators across the globe. It is a "Not For Profit" and runs on a small subscription for which membrs have access to an excellent secure portal. Any issue about Hi tech crime is covered within the List
I need to update my bio. I am the Vice president of the HTCC

Polcyb is the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace. A Vancouver based Not For Porfit that like HTCC, is interested in a range of Cyber issues. However, it runs a series of conferences in locations around the globe. Unfortunatly I have missed the last 2 owing to operational commitments.
It is, however, an impressive collection of people run by the magnificent Bessie Pang.

There are many such organisations linking law enforcement around the planet, HTCIA for example or the International Chief Police Officers. All have a geniuine desire to add to the collective knowledge available to operational officers and staff. relying on the Nationally based routes for communications eg Interpol and Europol are sometimes clunky and rely on third parties. Officers and staff connecting directly can often sort out a range of issues prior to the legal approaches linking the judicial systems of each nation.

Policing is generally very similar across many countries. Whilst cops are not interchangeable they often have the same approach, sense of mission and commitment to do good, as well as parculiar humour.

I have met many highly committed cops in a range of environments who produce an excellent service to their public. Equally I have experienced some who I would not wish to see on the streets of the UK. Whatever the weaknesses of UK Policing I am rooted firmly in the belief that we still have a service here that is admired the world over. That is why there are far more countries looking to learn from us than the reverse.

Whilst I may criticise aspects of what we do locally and nationally I am still very much proud of all the people contributing to delivering a safer Britain.

That hits 2 of my suggested aims. Your ocmmenst would be much appreciated. More to follow.......

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Intro Blog

Well here goes for Blog number 1

Before I started this I asked for some guidance and advice from others to see what should be in and what should be out. This was a little lesson in the use of social media. Ask, listen respond. Mostly its about just doing it
So here are some of the things people said.

1. Blog about the things that you are linked with including HTCC and Polcyb (
2. Be genuine, be yourself, blog about what interests you.
3. Readers come, readers go. Dont try to please people.
4. Avoid corporate-speak & please warn if there are to be more swimming photos.
5. Mundane political correctness and obvious material already out there; 2.
6. Keep a balanced free speaking view

So I am going to try to keep to these guidelines and see how it goes

I will get the first main blog out soon

Thanks and if you can add to my list please do so.

Intro Blog

Well here goes for Blog number 1
Before I started this I asked for some guidance and advice from others to see what should be in and what should be out. This was a little lesson in the use of social media. Ask, listen respond. Mostly its abl=out just doing it
So here are some of the things people said.

1. Blog about the things that you are linked with including HTCC and Polcyb
2. Be genuine, be yourself, blog about what interests you. Readers come, readers go. Dont try to please people.
3. Avoid corporate-speak & please warn if there are to be more swimming photos.
4. Mundane political correctness and obvious material already out there; 2.
5. Keep a balanced free speaking view

So I am going to try to keep to these guidelines and see how it goes

So I will get the first main blog out soon

Thanks and if you can add to my list please do so.

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