Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Reflections on this year's CFO retreat


By Alison Dewhirst, Police Advisor

It was wonderful to see everyone face-to-face again at the September AFEP CFO retreat. I hope you all found it refreshing to spend a couple of days away from your usual routines, considering some of the wider issues currently facing police CFOs. Over the two days, a few themes stood out to me as especially relevant to policing today.

I think it's safe to say Mandy Hickson's presentation resonated in the words of a lot of our speakers. Mandy discussed the notion of purpose: once you have identified yours, it is much easier to work steadily towards a goal. I thought this aligned well with the presentation on the governance of collaboration, and our responsibility to make effective use of scarce police resources and public money.

The second theme that stood out was that of planning. Our interactive workshop 'What is your legacy?' discussed this in greater detail, looking at how CFOs could plan for the future finance function. We also considered the role of technology, as set out by Richard von Ross, and the use of big data, as explained by Professor Tom Kirchmaier, in planning for future policing and where to allocate resources. It is important to plan what forces want to do with technology and data while also having a clear idea of what questions we are trying to answer. As public finance professionals, we have to consider the ethics around how we use technologies and the information we collect as we try to plan for the future.

Lastly, I thought the idea of perseverance was another key theme. This rang clear from so many of our speakers – from the female trainee RAF pilot who was determined to succeed, to the those working at Police Scotland to transform eight legacy finance functions into a single function. It's individuals such as these who represent the perseverance we need as a whole to keep us moving forward.

This retreat has taught us that if we have a clear purpose, plan for the future and learn to persevere, great transformations can be achieved across the forces. Thank you all for coming and here's to the next retreat!

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