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FOCUS: "We are looking to recruit from within"

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Thursday 31 December 2020

FOCUS: "We are looking to recruit from within"


In the third and final part of his interview, the Chief of Police Robin Smith addressed the departure of his second-in-command as well as his first year living in the island and how welcome he has been made to feel.

Express spoke to Mr Smith as he approached his first anniversary as the head of the local force to discuss policing, the challenges the pandemic posed and everything in between.

What was your reaction to the news that your second-in-command, James Wileman, was leaving?

First of all, I want to be absolutely clear that James is a phenomenal talent, that we were certainly looking from a succession planning point of view, providing him with some wider experience, and that was underway. 

I fully applaud and congratulate him on the post he's taken, and you will have seen in the comments I've made - of course whilst I wouldn't say I have every expectation to see him back one day because there's a big wide world out there, and people realise that when they leave the police service - I think it is a really excellent opportunity for him to widen his experience going into another organisation, and there's no reason why one day he can't come back. 

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Pictured: Robin Smith became Jersey's Police Chief in January.

He is likely to get much, much more experience by going to an entirely different organization. You know, he could in five years' time say 'I've been superintendent for five years', or it could arguably be said 'Well I've been a superintendent one year five times'. So, I think I congratulate him for taking that move. He does it with complete support, and I genuinely do welcome it.

So, we will now interview, and, I think the States of Jersey Police has got some, what I have described as good bench strength. So, we are looking to recruit from within. Of course that would mean another Superintendent, another new Chief Inspector, an Inspector, a Sergeant, and then we get to recruit a Constable at the end of it, so that's a real opportunity, which, because of the size of our force, doesn't happen all the time because there are relatively few spots. 

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Pictured: "My determination is to reduce the amount of senior leader overheads and costs, with a view to investing that saving into frankly what the public will see more of," Mr Smith said.

This is separate to the actual Assistant Chief role though, is that right? Or are you hoping to recruit that role internally as well? 

What we introduced just as we were coming out of lockdown is, as you will know, the Government quite rightly is going to have to make some pretty significant savings and efficiencies, largely a result of the cost of covid. I decided that temporarily we would not recruit to a Deputy Chief Officer (DCO) post, largely because the salary with all costs for a DCO equates to three Police Constables. 

My determination is to reduce the amount of senior leader overheads and costs, with a view to investing that saving into frankly what the public will see more of. So the recruitment of a DCO post, it's been postponed, and what I have now currently is one of the superintendents, in what I describe as the designated deputy, which James is and was when he leaves.

It was purely based on, I want to maintain those front-line police officer numbers, and I think it's right and proper that if I do that, I should look to try and reduce the senior management overhead costs. 

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Pictured: "I have been made to feel so very welcome," Mr Smith said.

How have you settled into Jersey? 

I have been made to feel so very welcome, and I was conscious of the fact that I had come from England and I share islanders' views that future chiefs should come from the island, and that's something I strongly support. 

So, I wondered what that might be like, and I've been nothing but welcomed, very generous. Covid actually in many ways has helped that, because we've all had to get to know each other pretty quickly. I felt very much part of the wider team trying to provide the services that islanders needed, so I am enormously grateful for that and continue to be grateful for that. 

The truth is despite covid, I have had a genuinely wonderful time, in fact I'd go as far as to say, from a professional perspective, it will be the highlight of my career, largely coming to an island, coming to Jersey and then policing a virus which has been a fascinating opportunity.

From a personal point of view, of course what that has also meant is my family have stayed in England. My son has gone off to university, I still haven't seen my dog as much as I would have liked, but that's a personal touch there really. Compared to what I've had, to what islanders have had to put up with, it's really not worth talking about. 

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Posted by Paul Hadikin on
Sorry but police need to recruit from uk
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