Streamlined Leadership Programme: Metropolitan Police Service

Public sector consultancy and PSTA delivery partner RedQuadrant shares a case study in service transformation


The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commonly known as the Met is London’s police service: the biggest in the UK and the largest city force in the European Union, ensuring the safety and security of a thriving political, economic, cultural and technological capital. London is a global city with an ever-changing population that is expected to reach 9 million by 2020.

Alongside policing a geographical area of 620 square miles across 32 boroughs, and 140 police stations, the Met has a significant number of officers and staff in specialist crime, investigations and operations. The Met has responsibility for protection in royal, diplomatic and parliamentary matters and is a significant presence in the national response to serious and organised crime.

The Met has 31,075 police officers – around 25% of the England and Wales total, policing 14.6% of the England and Wales population and dealing with 20.6% of all crime. The Met continues to become more efficient through a significant change programme which has to-date delivered £573m in savings. An additional £423m in savings are to be made by 2021.

It was as part of this change programme that RedQuadrant were invited to work with the Internal Design Delivery team (managed for the Met by their strategic partners Deloitte’s). Our role was specifically in relation to the Streamlined Leadership Programme, focused on delayering of the Chief Inspector rank within the MPS.

Our team brought expertise in areas of change, design, leadership, process facilitation and engagement. We each worked directly with a number of the 22 or so operational command units, and supported at business group level each team of in-house change leads. The objective was to support them in providing 3 options for chief officers to select a preferred design for further high level work and presentation to the Management Board. The next stage of the programme would be then shaped by the decision of the incoming new Commissioner.

An outline design approach and principles were to be delivered, with activities adapted to support local context and interdependent changes. We worked with each unit to facilitate 3 workshops addressing successive design reviews and analysis. The units examined roles and responsibilities, skills and organizational impact and, finally, enablers to move towards a delayered organisation.

The challenge

One of the main challenges was the breadth and complexity of the organisation; not only the day to day policing units but the numerous specialist units operating both overtly and covertly for example the Protection Command Unit (Royal and Diplomatic protection), the Firearms Command Unit and the Homicide Unit all meeting the complex and diverse needs of a city with a population of over 8 million people.

Further challenges were cultural in addressing a flatter organisational structure and effectively losing a rank which held significant experience and skills.  The whole organisation is implementing waves of change driven by national policy and legislation, pressures from the public, new threats, technological changes, and public spending constraints. The ‘bottom-up’ approach to delayering (tasking teams including those in affected rank and role to initiate the design review work) intended to secure active engagement but also meant most people had no direct experience or knowhow in relation to the task.

What we did differently / innovations in our work

Sarah Johnston led this project which involved the RedQuadrant team working with the OCUs on a facilitated face to face format as well as supporting them via e mail and phone. The sessions focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the units and followed a prescribed pattern of vision and objectives.

We assisted the Met with their vision of reform and rank structure to empower staff, increase trust, improve decision making and reduce bureaucracy. This presented several challenges and our flexibility and understanding of their needs was critical to the programme’s success.

We applied the design principles set by the Met to assure and test our joint activity:

  • Lean structures
    • Aim to improve spans of control and increase supervisory ratios
    • Take account of College of Policing and Police Performance Framework
    • View statutory requirements associated to rank
    • Consider pan-MPS responsibilities and risk
    • Not design significant increases at Superintendent rank
  • Increased empowerment and improved decision making
    • Allocate tasks to the appropriate role in the organisation
    • Enable decisions to be taken at the most appropriate level
    • Streamline the number of steps in approvals process
    • Create an accessible leadership group
  • Reduced demand
    • Take opportunities to reduce demand to support a streamlined view
    • Identify none value add activities
    • Align ways of working with business groups across London
  • Measurable benefits
    • Keep measurable against programme objectives
    • Develop an organisation design for each business group
    • Remove Chief Inspector roles from MPS by summer 2018

The outcomes

Key outcomes were:

  • Each of the 22 OCUs were able to put forward an appropriate number of options for streamlining their areas of business
  • There was a close examination of a wide range of processes in key areas
  • A co-creative approach in working with the MPS meant that challenges were made, trust and openness built, and tough questions addressed
  • The enablers required to implement delayering successfully were fully identified and closely reviewed during the QA stage – informing the on-going change programme
  • Implementation of next steps, new structures, inter-linked changes in other aspects of the organisation will now be more cohesive
  • Our work and the team’s outputs enabled the MPS to take a close scrutiny on risk and resilience and supported top level decision making
  • Workload management issues were looked at (though not directly in scope) – along with a wide range of hard and soft systems, processes, skills, policies, etc.

Added value

  • Coaching relationships developed with a number of change leads with RedQuadrant associates providing guidance, support and challenge to help certain individuals and groups build their resilience
  • Skills were transferred to internal change and business leads as part of the project
  • RedQuadrant worked closely with Deloitte to refine guidance, etc
  • RedQuadrant shared some of our extensive knowledge and experience of demand management

The way forward

RedQuadrant have identified a number of positive ways forward to support and strengthen the new structure and introduce enablers:

  • Consulting on design, development and implementation of the delayered organisation – ensuring cultural, systemic and performance challenges are supported
  • Change team coaching – supporting the on-going direct ownership and involvement of change leads and restructuring/reforming units
  • Developing the ‘future Inspector’ as a key role ensuring sufficient uplift in strategic leadership. We have in the past for another force provided career coaching around the introduction of A9 using a model we have developed (for both those staying and moving on)
  • Targeting other ranks to ensure that broad leadership development and the positive outcomes from flatter structures can be realised
  • Enabling the whole organisation to influence stakeholders who will need to adjust to the new structural shape
  • Review the principles and processes adopted and propose improvements in specific areas with promising client leads – e.g. in the professionalism area, (HR, training, championing standards), and with empowered team leadership for modernised operations aligned with new hubs and localities.
  • Support and challenge around demand management