Police Leadership in Scotland and The Netherlands: A Comparative Study

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1.1 Background to the Study

On 1st April 2013, the initially announced police reforms that were aimed at shifting the structure of the police from comprising of eight regional forces into a one national force were effected and became operational in Scotland (Fyfe 2014a, p.8). This followed radical changes suggested by the then justice minister in Scotland, as a result of the increasing dynamics in policing globally. The new proposed structure of the national police basically comprised of appointed members as opposed to elected members (Fyfe 2014b, p.9). It was supposed to be accountable to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), with the responsibility of maintaining an effective and efficient force, at the same time in the development of a national policing plan.

The political narrative that was supporting the initiation of this reform was centered on the economic and financial benefits that Scotland was to generally benefit, by cutting on public spending due to the avoidance of the duplication of responsibilities in eight regional police forces (Anderson, Fyfe and Terpstra 2014, p.23). Additionally, the national government maintained that other benefits associated with such reforms would include; ability to create a more equal access to the specialists’ expertise and support, as well as ensuring that the connection between the communities and the police service is strengthened (Fyfe 2014b, p.5). In this regard, the overall importance of the reforms would be stated in three important points and these are; financial savings, better service delivery, and greater local engagement respectively (Donnelly 2014, p.84).

In a publication by Moggre, Boer and Fyfe (2018, p.388-397) on “police leadership in times of transition”, it was noted that the policing reforms witnessed in Scotland and the Netherlands were large scale in nature and they were accompanied with numerous changes in the leadership structures during the transitions. Many of the police leaders especially in Scotland expressed their dissatisfaction for failure to be involved in the planning stage before the reforms were implemented (Terpstra and Fyfe 2015, p.540). Fundamentally, those involved in the reform trajectories cited that their professional viewpoints were neglected, in what they think would frustrate the overall process based on the dynamics in the police leadership; where they actually adopt active evaluation and learning strategies before transitioning to the next levels (Davidson, Jackson and Smale 2017, p.7). Nonetheless, despite these differences in opinions, the overall aim was to ensure that there is a shift on how the public perceives the police service in Scotland, into that of active engagement (Great Britain 2013, 85). Therefore, the reforms were seen as pillars of enhancing good communication and linkage between the police and the people in general.

A reflection on the policing reforms comparing the Netherlands and the Scottish police indicates that the reforms were eventually proved to be complex than initially expected (Terspstra 2012, p.31). For instance, in both cases there have been increases in the number of organisational levels, in which case in Scotland there are a total of 5 levels while in the Netherlands there exists a total of 5 levels respectively. Scottish and the Netherlands’ policing administrative functions are identified in the countries’ constitutions in Police Act 2012

for the Netherlands and the Police and Firearm Reform Act 2012 for Scotland respectively (Terpstra 2015, p.31). The Police and Firearm Reform Act 2012 for Scotland replaced the previous used traditional Act of 1967, and it was perceived as a vibrant tool in improving the administrative functions of the police. More other secondary legislations have been added to the new Act with an aim of establishing the specific mandates of the Scotland police forces and authority respectively. In Overall, these reforms are a typical example of organisational change, and its effectiveness is an evaluation that this study seeks to achieve.

1.2 Research Problem Statement

The overarching aim of the reforms instituted in Scotland in 2013 were founded on the political premise of ensuring that there is efficiency in service delivery and policing administration in the country (Fyfe 2014a, p.8). For over five years since its implementation, a critical examination of how effective the reforms have been is of great importance. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the reforms although considered admirable and modern, they were also faced with a number of criticisms from within and outside the police force (Davidson et al. 2017, p.8). For example, leaders in the police indicated that they were not consulted or their professional advice was not considered in the entire reforms and transitions (French 2013, p.759). Moreover, the then justice minister who engineered the reforms was changed, as well as the chief constable resigning in 2015 (Fyfe 2015, p.39). These developments heighten the discussion around the topic of organisational change management and policing governance in Scotland. Moreover, a relationship between communities, politics and the police is another emerging concern as new discussions have developed around these areas, sparking an important debate around the national police force.

Change management is an important and yet complicated issue to any organization (Fyfe and Henry 2012, p.178). There ought to be solid measures put in place to align change with prevailing environmental conditions and challenges (Fyfe and Scott 2013, p.29). For instance, all stakeholders ought to be involved right from the initiation, planning, implementation, and controlling of the envisaged changes (Sampson 2012, p.107). The success of change implementation or management largely depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to the approach adopted. Leadership is one of the key determinants of how effective change plans are executed and managed; both during and after change has been implemented (Halkias 2017, p.138). In this regard, the study’s main problem lies on the foundations that there has been a shift in leadership since the 2013 implementation of police reforms in Scotland, and that numerous dynamics have taken place. As such, has these changes impacted the overall process and have the envisaged goals in the reforms been achieved? Are the communities having a positive attitude and perspective towards the national police? The problems will be addressed by delving deeper into the circumstances in Scotland police force, while comparing it with a number of other countries.

1.3 Research Objectives

1.3.1 Overall Aim

The overarching aim of this research was to determine the effectiveness of recent reforms in the nationalised policing of Scotland. Specifically, the central tenet of organisational reform, leadership and change in Police Scotland’s merger in 2013 to date will be evaluated in terms of effectiveness. In support of this, the objectives for research can be further articulated as below.

1.3.2 Specific Aims

The specific aims of the research based on the overall goal are stated as below;

To evaluate the effectiveness of organisational reform in Police Scotland’s merger in 2013 to the present day.

To understand the management impact of the change process not only on the organisation but also on the employed workforce as a whole.

To review existing research on how the reform has affected employee motivational and empowerment aspects.

To determine the outcomes of the fundamental leadership approaches employed within the organisational reform process: e.g. predominantly Transactional, Transformational or a blend of both.

1.3.3 Research Questions

The following are the important questions that will be sought to be answered in order to achieve the above postulated aims.

Have the reforms introduced in the Scotland Police Force helped the country to achieve financial savings as envisaged?

Have the reforms introduced in the Scotland Police Force helped the country to attain better service delivery?

Have the reforms introduced in the Scotland Police Force helped the country to enhance greater local engagement?

Have the reforms introduced in the Scotland Police Force positively impacted all stakeholders in the police force e.g. employees?

1.3.4 Hypotheses

The hypotheses surrounding this research is based on the assumption to date that the change management policy of Police Scotland’s merger, devolutions of local control and centralised leadership and management have been deemed a success in terms of reducing overall operational costs and ensuring the standardisation of policing procedures across the country. In this regard, the questions above have been used to formulate the alternate hypotheses according to the researcher’s assumptions to guide the study and they are as stated below.

HA1: The reforms have helped the country to achieve financial saving goal.

HA2: The reforms have helped the country to attain better service delivery.

HA3: The reforms have helped the country to enhance greater local engagement.

HA4: The reforms have positively impacted all the stakeholders in the police force.

1.4 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the current study was to undertake a critical examination of the effectiveness of the new reforms introduced in Scotland’s police force in 2013. Specifically, the researcher will seek to gather information from different sources and undertake a cross-national comparison in order to evaluate the applicability of the reforms in improving service delivery, enhancing increased engagement between the police and the communities, and evaluating the applicability towards helping to reduce the financial budgets that were initially spent on the traditional structure of the police. In overall, various dimensions will be examined including leadership structures, leadership challenges as well as opportunities in managing the police force and reforms.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The current research will add incredible value to existing knowledge on policing and reforms as well as leadership and change management. Specifically, the study will help different stakeholders in the Scotland police forces to identify areas in which they have made tremendous achievements owing to the implementation of the reforms. Additionally, it will help them to identify areas that they have not performed according to the expectations and therefore identify specific measures that can be put in place to enhance better performance. Thirdly, the study will benefit the researcher greatly on matter of policy formulation, leadership and change management. Finally, it will incredibly help in the identification of gaps in research concerning the Scotland reforms and police force, as well as in change management that can attract the attention of future studies in order to contribute to theory and practice on the topic of concern.

1.6 Overview of Scotland Police Reforms

In the year of 2011, the Justice Minister of Scotland announced a package of radical organisational reform initiatives that would see the replacement of the eight regional police forces with a singular new nationally based force, to be known collectively as ‘Police Scotland’ (Fyfe, 2012 p.9). Police Scotland became operational on the 1st April 2013, accountable to a new national governing body namely the Scottish Police Authority (Scott, 2013, p.143). This elected authority is comprised of appointed members and has an overarching responsibility to maintain an effective and efficient force in the interests of Scotland’s increasing population and financial constraints (Fyfe, 2012 p.8). With the political wind firmly in the face of the UK system of policing and unprecedented cuts to individual forces imposed by the Treasury, the political narrative has focused on the economic rationale for reform. Confronted with budgetary reductions in public spending determined in Westminster, the Justice Secretary argued that ‘the status quo’ in policing was ‘unsustainable’ and that the only way to protect and improve local services (and to avoid the cuts in officer numbers occurring in England and Wales), was to cease ‘duplication of support services eight times over’ by creating a single police service (Fyfe, 2014). Indeed, savings in the region of £100 million per annum, which equates to approximately 8% of the annual budget, have been realised.

This level of organisational reform has not been without criticism or controversy however. Less than two years after the inaugural Chief Constable, Sir Stephen House stepped down after the M9 crash, widely considered to be the fault of centralised policy, his replacement, Phil Gormley QPM, is the subject of an investigation into bullying allegations made by a senior colleague (Riddoch, 2017). Further condemnation from local authorities in Scotland has continually followed since the merger (Terpstra and Fyfe 2014, p.18). Once in a position of relative power to elect and dismiss Police Governors and have influence at a local level, since the centralisation of singular police procedural policy on a national scale, now it appears, even notification of major policing strategy is unlikely to involve the local authorities. In support of this, less than six months after the merger in 2013, Police Scotland led a disastrous operation to counter the illicit sex trade in Edinburgh:

'... You can say that Edinburgh always had its own policy on these sex saunas. We do not like them of course, but we think it is a fact of life and that you’d better accept that if you don't want to have hidden prostitution everywhere in Edinburgh. You may say Edinburgh has had a more permissive, but also more realistic approach of this problem. Now what happened was that Police Scotland decided to have police raids. That really caused a lot of problems here, the members of the [Police Scrutiny] Committee, were really upset about what happened. We did not know anything about this. The police decided to do that on their own without any consultation'

(Local councillor) (Terpet and Fyfe (2014, p. 19).

The example of concern above was not an isolated incident. Similar concerns were voiced by the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, noting that this operation provided quite a dramatic example of the fears that ‘local policing was being overridden by a national attitude that came from the top’ (Scottish Parliament Justice Committee on Policing, 31 October 2013, col. 266).

In terms of objectivity, this research does not set out to represent an overly critical portrait of the outcomes of the Police Scotland organisational merger and beyond. Indeed, it can be justifiably evidenced that the nationalisation of the force has seen undoubted success in some key areas such as financial and retention (Zenith, 2016, p.3).

1.7 Scope of the Study

The scope of this investigation was limited to the reforms that were introduced in Scotland Police Forces. However, efforts were made to compare the performance of the police force owing to these new reforms to other countries in the UK by following a theoretical-conceptual research approach. The study was purely for academic importance and therefore its applicability is limited to this scope. However, its conclusion can lead to the establishment of various recommendations that can better be applied to improve practice and future inquiries.

1.8 Limitations and Delimitations to the Study

Limitations in research are the fundamental factors that can potentially change the outcomes of a study, and yet a researcher has no absolute control over such eventualities. While planning this study, the following were the envisaged and potential limitations that could adversely affect the outcome of this research:

At the time of writing, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland had just resigned amid serious allegations of misconduct, including bullying and malpractice.

The central tenet of this research was dependant on organisational access and if it were to be denied, could cause significant issues with the data research methodology. The access was denied.

Due to the above, the author consented to make every effort in avoiding potentially politically sensitive questions wherever possible.

If organisational access was to be granted then the quantitative research (survey) will be dependent on the good will of the participants to complete and return.

The proposed mixed methods research (subject to organisational approval) was to take place in Police Scotland’s HQ.

Contrary to limitations, delimitations are the factors that can influence outcomes but researcher has substantial control over them. It is important to disclose delimitations so as to provide a rationale behind the researcher’s decision to select a given approach and methodology. Firstly, the choice of the objectives of the study was purely due to the researcher’s conceptualisation of the problem statement and background of the reforms in Scotland’s police force. Secondly, the decision on methodological stances and philosophies was also a judgement by the researcher, especially on the mode of data analysis. Finally, the researcher made a personal choice concerning the scope of the study and therefore if different decisions were made in the above three scenarios, there would be a possibility that the results would have as well changed significantly, although not mandatory.

1.9 Organisation of the Study

The entire paper will be organised into five chapters, namely; introduction, literature review, methodology, results and discussions, and conclusions and recommendations respectively. The introductory chapter which has already been covered has offered an overview of the reforms in the Scotland’s Police Force and justification for that. Moreover, it has spelt out the problem statement of the study as well as the questions and objectives. The literature review will provide a critical assessment of the previous scholars’ works, as well as a theoretical framework on the theories in leadership and change management. This will be followed by a conceptual framework to show the association between variables. The chapter on methodology will be imperative in informing the readers the choices of designs and strategies used by the researcher, in addition to the nature, sources and analysis of information obtained. Results and discussions will present the obtained results for interpretation. Finally, interpreted results will be relied upon in making inferences and recommendations in the last chapter.

1.10 Chapter Summary

Chapter one has been informative by giving an historical overview of the aims and introduction of the Scotland Police Reforms. It has offered the specific questions and objectives as well as hypotheses that the scholar will be confined to. The overall purpose and significance of the research have been discussed, as well as the limitations and delimitations. This leads the researcher into the examination of the theories, previous studies and conceptualization of the variables that will be discussed in the next chapter.


2.1 Introduction

As already explained in the introduction, it is important to appreciate the existing knowledge on change management given that policy formulation and implementation in the Scotland’s police force is a form of change. Additionally, the researcher will also evaluate the gaps that exist in the current literature on the topic of discussion by reviewing past studies with an aim to identify the methodological approaches used, the gaps based on findings and discussions, and the overall recommendations made respectively. Both theoretical and empirical review will guide the conceptual review as explained in the sub-sections that follow.

2.2 Theoretical Review

The theories and models that were considered relevant in the current study include; leadership theories (transformational leadership theory and transactional leadership theory), Management Theories (strategic management theory and change management theory), and Leadership styles or approaches respectively.

2.2.1 Transformational Leadership Theory

Transformational leadership theory is one of the recent developments in the theoretical knowledge as far as leadership is concerned. Its definition revolves around the leader whose main intention is to promote social systems and individual changes in an organisation (Burkus 2010, par.1). Ideally, it is founded on the premise of causing change among the followers, by developing them from being followers into leaders (Cherry 2018, par.4). In its authentic form, it primarily builds motivation, performance improvement, and morale among followers irrespective of the nature of organisation or industry in question (Northouse 2010, p.5). For instance, by connecting followers through the identification of their self-identity and ensuring that the mission and goals of an organisation are connected to their identity implies that followers will be motivated not just for their own goals, but also for the attainment of the anticipated goals and change (Lentz 2012, p.23). Additionally, leaders can achieve this by role modeling their followers to accept the proposed change and policy formulation in an organization; by upholding the specific tenets of developed policies (Riggio and Orr 2004, p.49). Moreover, followers can be challenged to take up new responsibilities and challenges as far as their duties are concerned. However, of great importance as far as this theory is concerned is that leaders ought to develop a clear understanding of the specific weaknesses and strengths of their followers, so that they can effectively align them towards the overall responsibilities and tasks (Harris 2009, p.219).

First introduced by Burns in 1978 in his political leadership descriptive study, the theory has gained dominance and appreciation across different disciplines including but not limiting to organizational management, both in private and public entities, and by extension even in religious and family leadership programs. As a matter of fact, a transformational leader is able to draw distinct lines separating leadership and management and knowing that the main difference lies on characteristics and behaviors, which can potentially be developed over time (Burns 1978, p.13). The four important traits of transformational leaders that differentiate it from other leadership theories are; individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence respectively.

For the context of individualized consideration, the main focus is on empathy exercised by a leader to his or her followers (Cherry 2018, par.4). For instance, in the case of police Scotland reforms, the leaders that engineered the entire change process ought to maintain an open communication with all the affected stakeholders (followers) such as the police employees, the public and other parties that are directly or indirectly impacted by the reforms (Keller and Meaney 2017, p.102). In this way, the policy formulators are able to identify the needs of the followers, and in return incorporate them in the policy formulation and implementation process, so as to render it effective in the long-run. One way of doing so is to place challenges that the old police structure had before the followers, brainstorming their ideas, supporting and celebrating any individual contributions, having a positive criticism of all the ideas proposed, and implementing those found to be ideal, hence cultivating an intrinsic motivation among the followers (Gill 2006, p.32). This can eventually minimize situations of policy rejection and increased complaints from among the police forces and other stakeholders.

Intellectual stimulation also plays an integral role in challenging any possible assumptions, taking risks and soliciting ideas from followers (Cherry 2018, par.4). For example, by doing so in police reforms, the ultimate outcome is that the followers in the police force are likely to be stimulated and their creativity encouraged, hence providing opportunities for them to be independent thinkers (Bertocci 2009, p.97). In this case, leaders adopting these strategy places more value to learning and takes challenges as opportunities to learn, both for them and for the followers (Gadot and Drory 2006, p.3). For example, by virtue that having 8 police forces was seen as a challenge of duplicating responsibilities and hence escalating Scotland’s budget, allowing the followers to think broadly over the issue increases chances of clear understanding and a renewed synergy towards establishing an alternative to reduce the financial burden on national government.

While on inspirational motivation, the main focus is for the leaders to ensure they articulate inspiring and appealing vision to followers (Cherry 2018, par.4). For instance, from the background information, it has been echoed that the police Scotland reforms were mainly centered around on financial savings, better service delivery, and greater local engagement among other envisaged benefits (Gray 2010, p.180). These are the visions that ought to have been communicated in an articulate manner to followers in the country, to ensure that there is full support from all stakeholders (Chance 2009, p.193). Therefore, transformational leadership helps the leaders to communicate in an optimism manner about the hopes and future benefits from the anticipated changes with regard to overall goals. This inspires and motivates the people so as to accept change in order to bring about a new face of the old ways of doing things (Pless and Maak 2011, p.37).

Finally, idealized influence implies that leaders provide role model based on high ethical conduct, gains trust and respect, and instills pride among the followers (Cherry 2018, p.4). In this way, transformational leadership is able to show the need for certain changes and paradigm shifts, which is acceptable right from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy structures in a system (Wart 2011, p.37). Fundamentally, the main focus of transformational leadership is to have everyone on board, and increase participation, so as to promote working collaboratively as opposed to individually (Gagné 2014, p.86). Despite its merits and wide applicability, the theory has been criticized for its reliance on impression management by leaders lending it to moral self-promotion. Further, criticisms hold that in its application, followers can be manipulated by leaders leading to losing more than they in essence gain (Juneja 2018, par.5). Nonetheless, the theory is relevant to the current study as it looks on possible approaches to minimize policy formulation and implementation rejection by promoting collective and mutual understanding of the perceived benefits.

2.2.2 Transactional Leadership Theory

Transactional leadership is yet another theory that is widely adopted in leadership especially where it is believed that people work best under a definite and clear chain of command (Spahr 2014, par.1). It is also known as managerial leadership whose main focus is on group performance, organization and supervision role of a leader (Martin, 2006, p.47). More often, leaders applying this theory in leadership are fond of using punishments and rewards as a way of managing employees or followers (Braveman 2016, p.83). The basic assumptions that underpin the theory include the facts that: workers are motivated by punishments and rewards; a clear and definite chain of command makes people to work better; the worker’s primary goal is to obey commands and instructions of a leader; and that for expectations to be met, subordinates must be carefully monitored (Lynch 2012, p.6).

Transactional leadership is commonly applied in businesses where better performing employees are given rewards while those who do not deliver are punished or reprimanded (Avolio and Yammarino 2013, p.17). Another example of its applications is in athletics where players receive rewards for winning or performing better and vice versa (Agard 2011, p.13). Unlike in transformational leadership where leaders are futuristic and forward looking, transactional leaders tend to be interested in ensuring that the status quo is maintained (Bach and Edwards 2013, p.84). They often give instructions and explains to followers what ought to be done and when it should be done (Ray 2012, p.190). This is a typical example of many police forces given the fact that the employees in the police are expected to follow commands and they are rarely involved in decision making in most countries.

The basic characteristics of transactional leaders include but they are not limited to; extrinsic motivation, practicality, resistant to change, discourage independent thinking, rewards performance, constrained thinking, they are passive, directive, emphasize on corporate structure, and emphasize on self-interests respectively (Gill 2006, p.32). While applying this theory in the Scotland police reforms, it implies that the proposed changes were most likely developed by the top leaders, and passed down to the followers without further involvement of the followers (Nicolescu and Reason 2016, p.85). In essence, this could mean demotivating followers as intrinsic motivation is not emphasized, and forcing them to adopt changes that they are not part and parcel of its formulation (Politis 2012, p.196). A critical assessment between transactional and tra

January 19, 2024

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