Police Review
The Editor wrote: 'Cut the crap and listen before you decide.'

Strong words indeed and not the kind of advice you are likely to come across on one of those posters featuring a cute-looking kitten and a line of homespun wisdom.

But that was management consultant Lynda King Taylor's response when she was asked as part of Police Review's Verbals series what advice she would give senior officers on how to improve the quality of service they deliver to the community.

She didn't stop there. Officers, she observed, should have time to get to know their communities, and their work should be recognised during appraisals. Common sense, you might think, but then, as she also points out, the thing with common sense is that it's not so common.

Her words are particularly timely as a reminder of the on-going love affair between the public and its community officers. It is a relationship the service would do well to guard jealously"

Lynda King Taylor is a management consultant who has worked with the Met on Best Value initiatives.

You are known for your promotion of the Crimestoppers initiative. How did you become involved in this and why?
I knew the Met well through development and partnership programmes and my Sunday Times books. The then commissioner felt my experience, both inside and outside the job, could be of value to the Crimestoppers board. There was an urgency to better market Crimestoppers but before we could 'sell' Crimestoppers to the world outside, it had to be better understood and utilised within the service itself.

How much of an impact do you think Crimestoppers has had on the police and in their crime-fighting efforts?
A significant impact progressing intelligence-led policing initiatives. Also a greater use today of the 0800 555 111 number across community, media, police posters, within incident rooms and programmes such as <> Crimewatch UK <>. The figures speak for themselves. Whether you look at actionable intelligence figures or those for arrests and clear ups; it's impressive.

You have worked as a consultant for many companies, including Texaco and British Aerospace, in improving motivation and staff and customer relations. What lesson do you think forces can learn from these companies?
At a recent seminar I asked how many police officers in the room were wearing Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren, Adidas, etc. More than 90 per cent - what does that tell us? The importance of marketing; keeping in front and staying there; winning over customers' hearts and minds; selling 'brand' loyalty; logo pride; consistent standards; and reliable product quality.

Do you think forces place enough emphasis on motivating their staff? How could they improve?
There are two ranks who are major players in motivating police officers - sergeants and inspectors. I see many of them suffocating producing pages of performance prowess and stultifying statistics. It's a wonder they have any time to train, develop, motivate, excite, enthuse, energise the people at the front end of the business. It's also about feedback. I am not too impressed with many of the appraisal systems I've seen within UK forces. I question whether they are perceived by officers to be worth the paper they are written on. Sadly, sometimes the higher you go in an organisation the dumber you get.

What advice would you give senior officers on how to improve the quality of service they deliver to the community, what would it be?
Cut the crap and listen before you decide. My grandpa said: 'Listen to the sound of the river if you want to catch a fish.' Officers should have time to ingratiate themselves into their community and, vitally, their work must be recognised at appraisals. It's common sense in excellence organisations that you involve your customers, listen to them, then act and deliver. Sadly, common sense is not so common.

A Home Office working group is currently looking at ways to improve the calibre and quality of future police leaders. Have you ideas how they could do this?
Future police leaders should not block themselves off from trends in a wider society, or be isolated within their police culture. It's important leaders have their feet on the ground. I know one senior officer in the Met who, if he said he wanted volunteers to go with him over a mountain, would have a battalion follow demanding 'Just tell us when, Guv'. He's kicked arse, got results. He's been there and done it. When you meet that officer, the characteristic that stands out above all others is his talking the same language and beliefs as the officers coming with him.

You are described by many officers as having a sense of humour. What is the funniest thing anyone has ever said about you and was it true?
I stood in for Peter Mandelson at short notice at the international customer symposium for British Aerospace involving 300 dignitaries. It was suggested afterwards that I was a cross between Sir John Harvey Jones and Billy Connolly. Judge for yourself.

Have you ever been tempted by a career into the police?
This was suggested to me when I was 17 years old by my boyfriend, a Strathclyde sergeant. However, I became a nurse instead and on into business. I'm confident, reviewing my career and the experience I now bring to the police service, that it was the correct decision.

Who in the police service have you most admired and why?
Former Met Commissioner Sir Peter Imbert. As a radical leader he resided over a complete cultural change from the Metropolitan Police Force to the Metropolitan Police Service. He did much inspiring, innovative work - ahead of his time.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
A difficult one, and all have been true. From Granny: 'Always give men space in the bathroom - especially in the morning.' From Mum: 'You can't buy respect - you've got to earn it.' From my mentor: 'Be nice to nerds, chances are you'll end up working for one.' From my Dad: 'Life's not fair, get used to it.' He was a sergeant major in the Argylls. Now he'd have made a copper's cop!

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