Do we NEED so many Chiefs

Do We Need So Many Chiefs

On the 6th February this year the opposition government suggested that the police service would have to lose 10,000 police officers by the end of next year. Quite rightly, they expressed concern over the impact this may have on performance and yet no-one appears to be advocating for a fundamental review of the structure of police services and other public service organisations.

It is time to take a more commercial view to achieve the government’s austerity measures. When a commercial organisation is no longer viable it closes, is acquired by another company or it merges with another company and it is time for the public services to take the same approach. Instead of reducing front line delivery they should be looking at merging in order to reduce the amount of senior leaders and duplicated departments.


Acpo collage


Police collage

I cannot think of a time when I have asked any of my clients, “To what extent does your organisation need you?” However, this is now a valid question for any public service leader to think about. When the government announced reductions in public service funding they said that front-end delivery of these services would be protected.

Now, all we hear from councils and police services is the amount of front-line staff they will be losing. We don’t hear about the number of organisations that are merging, so that fewer Chief Executives will be needed. We don’t hear about sharing financial and human resource staff, to avoid duplication. Why? Because these are the very people who are reviewing their organisations.

Can the United Kingdom still afford fifty one police services, sixty three fire services and thirty one ambulance services? No, it cannot. Each of these services has an infrastructure to support it, including their own Head of Finance, Head of Human Resources and Chief, who is usually assisted by a P.A. or secretary.

Streamlining the number of these organisations will also assist with communication, as there would not be so many ‘empires’ where the chiefs create their own training units, their own computer systems and their own branding. Only after this streamlining should any of these organisations look at reduction in front-line services – and I don’t think they’d be needed.