Brian McCarthy, outgoing Executive Director of the Christian Police Association shares his experience on helping develop best practice in the Police.

Brian McCarthy first joined the Christian Police Association (CPA) nineteen years ago when his faith became a greater part of his life. The CPA is a registered charity whose objective is to provide a national voice for and support Christians in policing, as well as outreach work with the wider Christian community. They have more than 4000 members nationally.

Brian initially volunteered as a branch leader for the CPA in Cleveland Police and enjoyed the opportunities that it provided. He says: “I started attending the staff equality forum and enjoyed having the opportunity to comment on policy. Then as a branch leader, I had the opportunity to attend a national leaders conference for the Christian Police Association which meant I was meeting a broader range of like-minded people. It gave me the confidence to bring my full self to work as well as helping other colleagues be themselves too.”

In 2021, Brian successfully applied to become Executive Director of the CPA, which has involved running the network and taking it in a more strategic direction. He says the Radius training really helped him make an impact: “The Radius Employee Network Leadership Programme gave me the tools to build a stronger staff support network and from this training, I created a Branch Leader’s Guide Book because I wanted to cascade the knowledge I had been given.” The Guide Book includes key themes on how to run a successful network such as partnership, communication, impact, and legacy and has examples of good practice and tips. The feedback has been excellent with 77% of branch leaders rating the guidance highly. Brian has shared the Guide Book with other staff networks and gives monthly presentations on the Guide to CPA Branch leaders.

He also credits the Radius training with improving the network’s communication strategy. He says: “The tips we learnt helped to make our messaging clearer both in our online newsletter and blogs and in our communication with senior officers.” As a result, he says the CPA has seen an increase in membership compared to the previous year. They are also better represented nationwide, with a Christian branch leader in every police service for the first time last year. There are now 50 representatives around the country plus one for overseas members.

Brian says he is most proud of providing development opportunities to members of the CPA. He said: “The landscape of policing has changed and with a growing number of support staff joining the CPA, many who stand up to lead, don’t have the experience of interacting with high level officers so I wanted to provide more leadership training, to support, encourage and empower branch leaders.” Over the past year, almost 100 branch leaders have benefited from the leadership training he has organised. He says he has also helped grow the leaders community internally and set up a WhatsApp group to link them together so they have a peer support network too.

Brian says he works with other faith networks in the police and is “busy borrowing with pride” best practice from the Jewish Police Association and National Association of Muslim Police. He has recently produced workplace guidance support for officers of faith which includes guidance on reasonable adjustments for time off for holy days and specific dietary requirements. This was based on a template from the Jewish Police Association. The CPA are now putting together the booklet on workplace guidance which will be available on the College of Policing website.

Brian’s top piece of advice for anyone running a network is: “to be open and encourage people to be good allies and colleagues as well as keeping to your strategic goals. ”

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