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M02 Force Command 

1. Security protective marking

1.1. Not protectively marked.


1.2. This policy has a supporting Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which remains restricted under exemptions covered by the Freedom of Information Act.

2. Summary of changes

2.1. The following changes have been made to this policy on 26 April 2012:


      • The policy and SOP have been updated in light of the changes to the Force Command structure.

2.2. This policy is scheduled for review in April 2014.

3. Introduction 

3.1.  Kent Police has a tradition of policing with the consent of the communities it serves. Achieving the active participation of citizens requires the Police Service to build and maintain the trust and confidence of the communities it serves by delivering an effective police response to all incidents.

3.2. Kent Police recognise that providing policing to the public of Kent is not constrained within the normal working day, but rather it is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week responsibility.

3.3.  Kent Police has therefore to manage the delivery of ‘normal’ policing outside normal hours and also provide a robust system to enable the command and control of Major and Critical Incidents at any time.

3.4.  This policy defines the principles by which Kent Police undertakes the command of policing issues, major incidents and critical incidents throughout the entire day, including at the weekend.


3.5. It is recognised that high profile or large-scale incidents have the potential to develop into Critical Incidents, but it must be remembered that small-scale and internal incidents can also develop into Critical Incidents if not properly managed. Therefore, it is vitally important that identification and prevention of Critical Incidents starts early.


3.6. A major incident is defined as any emergency that requires the implementation of special arrangements by one or more of the emergency services, the NHS or the local authority for:

    • The rescue and transport of a large number of casualties;
    • The involvement either directly or indirectly of large numbers of people;
    • The handling of a large number of enquiries likely to be generated both from the public and the news media usually to the Police;
    • The large scale deployment of the combined resources of the emergency services;
    • The mobilisation and organisation of the emergency services and supporting organisations, (e.g. Local Authority), to cater for the threat of death, serious injury or homelessness of a large number of people.

3.7.  A critical incident is any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have a significant impact on the confidence of:

  • the victim;
  • their family;
  • and/or the community.

3.7.1. For further guidance, refer to ACPO (2007) Practical Advice on Critical Incident Management, page 22 and force policy M118, Critical Incident Management.

3.8.  The response to any major incident within the Kent Police area will be in accordance with the principles laid down in the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Emergency Procedures Manual. This manual is a compilation of advice based on legislation, agreement, experience and good practice.

3.9.  The response to an incident involving terrorism within the Kent Police Area will be in accordance with the principles laid down in the Home Office Counter Terrorist Contingency Planning Guidance Manual. Kent Police’s response to such an incident is contained in ‘Operation Sentinel’.

6.3. Kent Police recognise the value of the Gold, Silver and Bronze command structure as detailed in the ACPO Emergency Procedures Manual for all incidents within the County.


6.4. The Gold Commander should consider as good practice the implementation of a Gold, Silver, Bronze command structure in any potential Critical Incident.


4. Command structure and philosophy 

4.1.  Kent Police’s command philosophy is underpinned by a cadre system of trained and accredited officers at Gold and Silver command levels, together with a clear role for a Duty Superintendent.


4.2.  The force will maintain the following 'on call' cadre structures:

    • Strategic Command (Gold) - including firearms;
    • Duty Superintendent;
    • Tactical Firearms Command Cadre;
    • Critical Incident Command (Silver);
    • Major Crime (SIO);
    • Spontaneous Serious Crime Investigation (Senior Detective on Call - SDOC);
    • Negotiation.


                                4.3.  Spontaneous Silver Command capability is provided by Force Control Room Inspectors (Force Duty Officer) Critical Incident Commanders who are on duty at all times, supported by a dedication Police Constable Support Officer.


                                4.4. Pre-planned operations / events will be commanded by trained and accredited members of the appropriate cadre, selected by the Chief Inspector (Force Resource Unit / Operations Planning) in consultation with the Divisional / Directorate Senior Managers.


                                4.5. This policy will ensure:

                                  • there is sufficient resilience to respond to more than one significant incident;
                                  • there is capability for forward planning and development;
                                  • command responsibility is fairly and appropriately shared by all commanders (Chief Inspector rank and above);
                                  • the reduction of the numbers of officers required to contribute to more than one on-call cadre;
                                  • command is provided by appropriately trained and accredited officers, where required. 


                                4.6. The policy defines a model based on roles rather than individuals. There is an expectation that an officer will maintain continuous personal development in his/her cadre and specialist skills throughout their senior management service.


                                4.7. The policy recognises the force's responsibility to its staff and has required that, wherever possible, a cadre provides a responsible work-life balance.


                                4.8. The policy also acknowledges the need to be cognisant of the Working Time Regulations.


                                4.9.  This policy does not seek to determine the most appropriate rotate for delivery of command responsibilities. The Chief Officer responsible for each on-call cadre will approve a rota that offers resilience, business continuity and work-life balance subject to the requirements of the role.

                                5. Command structure

                                5.1. To ensure planning and resilience issues are identified and managed, overall command provision responsibility for the force is held by the Assistant Chief Constable (Central Operations). This ensures a strategic overview of operational command is maintained across all cadres. The Chief Superintendent (Tactical Operations Command) has executive authority to manage the policy on behalf of this Assistant Chief Constable.


                                5.2. Any officer wishing to change command cadres should only do so with agreement from their line manager and the Head of Tactical Operations Command.


                                5.3. Officers unable to deliver their cadre responsibility due to an unexpected circumstance are to arrange their own replacement by an appropriate and accredited individual. Where a replacement is unable to be located, the matter is to be referred to their senior manager who is to identify a replacement from their Department or Division.


                                6. Equality Impact Assessment


                                6.1. This policy has been assessed with regards to its relevance to race and diversity equality. As a result of this assessment, it has been graded as having a low impact.


                                6.2. Attached is the latest equality impact assessment that forms part of the policy review process.

                                Policy reference: M02 Force Command
                                Policy owner: Chief Superintendent, Tactical Operations
                                Contact point: Policy Unit, 01622 653298
                                Date last reviewed: 26 April 2012
                                Document last saved: 28 April 2012