Leading the Police Service of Northern Ireland - ten years and beyond

Andrew McInnes, Timothy Meaklim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – This paper sets out to review leadership development since the inception of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in 2001, its developments over the past ten years, and to look at the opportunities and challenges for the future. It considers the new leadership strategy for policing in
Northern Ireland.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper explores how leadership development has been considered before, during, and after the change process for policing in Northern Ireland. Through synthesis of available information, learning materials and documents, it identifies and reviews the key
models, theories and approaches used for leadership and management development within the PSNI and the approach considered necessary for success in the future.
Findings – The PSNI has progressed significantly from policing the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, where inward focus was more prevalent than the external partnership and collaborative approach that is needed today and in the future. The change from the Royal Ulster Constabulary to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland required leadership to deliver the transformation required. A new leadership development strategy is vital if operational policing is to
continue to enhance public confidence at a time of renewed terrorist threat.
Practical implications – Public sector organisations are currently facing great change in order to ensure they are able to meet the challenges of globalisation, technology, demography and the world financial crisis. Leaders can learn from the experience of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in the transformational change process which took place over the past ten years and how it intends to meet the future challenges facing a smaller service with reduced funding.
Originality/value – This review comes ten years after the establishment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It provides insights into the leadership development which supported the transformational change process within Northern Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-58
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Leadership in Public Services
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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