A Rapid Evidence Assessment to support the development of the College guidelines on effective supervision

Research Institution / Organisation

College of Policing

Principal Researcher

Karen Moreton

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

April 2019

Research Context

The College of Policing's recent ‘Capability Improvement Areas’ analysis identified ten recurring and systemic problems considered to be undermining capability to deliver good outcomes for the public. This thematic analysis was developed through interviews with 16 Chief Constables and focus groups with around 250 police officers and staff from 14 forces in England and Wales; a review of four years’ worth of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services’ reports; together with Independent Office of Police Conduct reports, Police and Crime Commissioner Plans and other published material.

One of the ‘perennial problems’ identified was that, in general, individuals are not reaching their full potential owing to insufficient supervision and leadership. The work demonstrated some of the underlying factors found to be contributing to this problem, many of which were related to organisational or individual support for effective supervisory practices. These findings suggested that there would be benefit derived from developing national guidance for effective supervisory practices. Accordingly, the project aims to ensure that:

  1. Police officers, staff and volunteers receive excellent support from their supervisors with regards to wellbeing, learning and performance.  

  2. Supervisors receive excellent support from their organisation.

For the purpose of these guidelines, a supervisor is defined as anyone who has management responsibility for one or more members of staff. Supervision responsibilities are made up of the following two components, which are equally important.

  • Operational or professional supervision – the supervision of people doing the practical aspects of their work.

  • Personal supervision – supporting, developing and leading individuals and teams.

The questions being addressed by the REA are:

  1. What constitutes effective supervision that enables and supports employees’ (police officers, staff and volunteers) wellbeing, learning and performance?

  2. What are the organisational requirements that need to be in place for supervisors to enable and support employees’ (police officers, staff and volunteers) wellbeing, learning and performance?

Research Methodology

An REA uses transparent, structured and systematic processes to search for, screen and synthesise research on a particular topic. An REA is not an exhaustive summary of the literature as limits are placed on the review process in order to deliver results ‘rapidly’. However, the systematic and transparent nature of the REA processes help to reduce bias and enable others to replicate the review.

To ensure the evidence review identifies literature on areas of practical relevance, the Guideline Committee will be consulted on the approach taken at key stages. Academic members and subject matter experts will be invited to suggest key citations for consideration and to comment on a protocol for the REA. Key academic databases and online/grey literature will be located using systematic search criteria and screened using agreed inclusion/exclusion criteria. Key findings of relevance will be summarised and presented to the Guideline Committee for consideration.

Searches will primarily focus on literature relevant to policing and other 'high risk' occupations, for example nursing/doctors/paramedics, armed forces, border force, prison staff, etc.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

November 2021
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