Crime novel series based in Bridlington, East Yorkshire fictional police area of Eastborough.
Ther'es been an awful lot words spoken about police forces getting rid of the rank of Chief Inspector, indeed, one force is already doing with the rank. So I thought, as a fictional DCI, but as someone who actually knows how the police system operates, I would share my opinion on the matter.
For as long as I can remember, the rank of Chief Inspector, within the British police service, has been the butt of internal jokes.
'Why didn't the Chief Inspector look out of the window in the morning?
'Because he'd have nothing to do in the afternoon if he did!'
To be honest, it's a bit of a 'cop out' rank (pardon the pun). Beyond the rank of Inspector, police managerial positions become political. They answer to the politicians and very much jump, when told to by the Home Office. The Chief Inspector is seen, internally at the very least, as the lap dog for Superintendents and above. Decision making on the ground is left to Inspectors and Sergeants, conversely, all management decisions are left to the Superintendent rank. So what gravitas does the uniform Chief Inspector bring to policing?
Well, for an annual salary of around the £56.000 mark, you'd think as public servants, they'd have a lot of responsibility and provide value for money. They don't. The position has never offered great value for the officers serving in it, or for the public purse. So for me, getting rid of the rank makes absolute sense. I should add at this point, Chief Inspectors working in specialised units, such as CID, firearms etc, are worth there salary. They have unique experience they bring to those units. It's the uniform Chief Inspector rank I allude to.
There is one problem I foresee with all police forces getting rid of the rank. Economics. There are easily 600 such posts currently occupied in the British Isles. That amounts to a figure of well over £33million. That's a lot of money we are paying out for officers who bring very little to the table. The other big issue is how do police forces get rid of the rank? Premature retirement? There's still colossal pay outs required to pension serving Chief Inspectors out. Demotion to rank of Inspector? That would cause pay issues among the substantive Inspector rank, since Chief's would be on higher salaries for doing the same role. Promotion, well that is dubious since some Chief Inspectors don't have the capability of holding the politically obsequious Supertintendent rank.
Then, one has to consider the moral of serving Inspectors seeking promotion. If they have to wait for a Superintendent position to arise, it could be a long wait, therefore stifling good police talent from getting to the top.
For me, the Chief Inspector position has been long overdue retirement, possibly from as far back as the 1970's. It will have serious ramifications on individual force finances and promotion. However, the Home Office and the government must step up to the plate and properly amend force rank structures, and for the first time in decades, make every police rank truly accountable. After all, its the public the police should be serving, not only the politicians.