Global progressive policing

Friday Exchange: In conversation with A/CC James Colwell, CC Amanda Blakeman, Jason Langley and Joanna Traynor

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Welcome to our monthly coverage of the “Friday Exchange” from the Police Foundation, this one with A/CC James Colwell, CC Amanda Blakeman, Jason Langley and Joanna Traynor.

At this event we discussed the following topics:

  • How does cultural change happen in a police force?
  • What are the obstacles of cultural change?
  • What has been learnt from the cultural change programme with Devon and Cornwall Police?
  • What was the support like from; officers, general public, supervisors and government?
  • What was the satisfaction and impact from undertaking the programme?
  • Has the change programme improved overall performance for Devon and Cornwall Police?
  • What has been the impact on disproportionality as a result of the change programme? 
  • How long term is this solution?
  • Can other police forces follow suit? 

Session Overview
Police Culture has dominated the media landscape for all the wrong reasons, but using bad apples as click bait can distract from the need to deal with much more disturbing, dysfunctional systemic issues highlighted time and again in HMIC reports. The seemingly intractable problem of delivering sustainable culture change in policing, in order to reduce levels of dysfunction and discrimination, is now an urgent issue. This session will look at how two forces – Devon & Cornwall and North Wales – have identified rigid systems and attitudes that induce stress and overwhelm, as key blockers to delivering cultural change. These forces have been able to accept and address the unintended consequences of a lack of psychological safety amongst staff and officers, with an inability to realise the benefits of a diverse workforce being key amongst them. Both police forces have used the latest insights from neuroscience and psycho-education, in partnership with senseia, a culture change consultancy, as the key tools needed to embark on a journey of significant sustainable culture change. Additionally, they will review how they’ve been able to measure the impact of that change, in both operational efficiencies and wellbeing.

Jason Langley
Jason has expertise in the role of social power – the informal influences that sits within friendship groups and cliques – and helps organisations understand how it is used to determine organisational norms and culture, often in conflict to its structural power. After 15+ years of experience working within the media and communications sector, across the UK, US and Australia, Jason founded Senseia to link power and story, (and the power of story), as the foundational underpinnings of all organisational behaviour. Jason believes that to embark on culture change, without seeing the world through these prisms of our core humanity, means driving your organisation into the future wearing a blindfold. Alongside his work with senseia, Jason conducts research at the London School of Economics into the role of power, organisational psychology and organisational performance.

Joanna Traynor
Joanna is a coach and psychotherapist with a background in the media, academia, technology and corporate professional services. Joanna’s psychological and phenomenological insights into culture deliver profound truths about change. She also has the power to decode and remove the darker psychological forces that drive discrimination, bullying and harassment. Using and adapting tools from the school of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy to help shape foundational culture dynamics, Joanna reveals and releases the tensions that bind up so much energy in organisational life. As a published author and media producer, Joanna has helped organisations to craft new narratives that are authentic, value-led and purposeful. Joanna believes that the foundation of all cultural change is the need to retain faith in the human capacity for growth and the need for achievement. Using social power, structural power and narratives that resonate, transitions to new and better worlds are not just achievable, but inevitable.

Jim Colewell
Jim joined Devon & Cornwall Police in 2001 after graduating from Leicester University with a BSc in Mass Communications and Sociology, and a post-graduate Diploma in Security and Risk Management. Throughout his career he has gained extensive experience as a senior detective as one of the Force’s key investigating officers. He is known coordinating the initial response to numerous major incidents, including homicides and kidnaps across the Force. He was promoted to Chief Superintendent in April 2016, when he took on the role of BCU Commander for Devon. In July 2019, Jim was promoted to the Assistant Chief Constable and then Deputy Chief Constable in August 2020; during which time he has had the responsibility for delivering a transformational change programme for the Police across Devon and Cornwall and Dorset police forces. Jim became the Acting Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police in July 2023.

Amanda Blakeman
With a BSc in Crime & Criminology, Amanda joined West Mercia Police in 1992, spending her first 11 years in this force as a police constable. In 2003 she was promoted to sergeant and, across several ranks, led teams in delivering critical services to communities. She held the responsibility for intelligence and proactive functions and was a Senior Investigating Officer in the Serious and Organised Crime Unit. In 2008, seconded to the West Midlands Regional Intelligence Unit, where she led the development of the critical processes around identifying and disrupting Organised Crime Groups.. She has also held the roles of Head of Public Protection, Head of Operational Support and Tactical Firearms Commander. Amanda was appointed as Deputy Chief Constable for West Mercia Police in February 2017 and then joined Gwent Police in October 2019 as Deputy Chief Constable. Amanda was appointed as Chief Constable for North Wales in October 2022

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