Talking time with ... Julian Innes

Today I’m exploring the transition from work to retirement with Julian Innes. Some of you may recognise him as the former “top dog” in the police up here in the North of Scotland. Following 30 years in the force he took retirement last summer at the age of 50.

During his career, he undertook an exciting variety of roles including director of intelligence and had to deal with some very high profile cases. He went onto become the North's most senior police officer - Chief Superintendent, divisional commander of the Highlands & Islands. Perhaps his largest challenge, however, came on 1st April 2013 when Police Scotland was formed. This replaced the previous 8 force structure and became the second largest after the Met, but we’ll come to that later!

How do you feel about your “time” in the police ?

I never had enough of it!

It was an environment where I would know what I was doing a year in advance. It was very regimental unless there was a critical incident. The routine was constant work.

Around 10 years ago I did an Open University degree in Leadership & Management. So, then I had to balance not only my professional work, but my studies, my wife and time with my kids. For about 5 years I think all I did when I wasn’t working was open up the laptop to get on with my course. I also had to work away from home up in Wick at that time. This period forced me to look at my time management, in terms of police work. I think that has helped me towards making that break towards retirement.

Can you tell me about the changeover to Police Scotland in 2013 in terms of the effect on you and your time?

Prior to the change I was working in an executive team of 6 people with 2 personal assistants to support us. There were also staff officers who could do some prep work for you. Then on the 1st April all that was gone with arrival of Police Scotland. I still had the same geographical area, but similar pressures without the executive of Northern Constabulary. Upon reflection, for the last 3 years of my career all that I did was focus on police work.

My usual day involved arriving in the office at 7.30 (Sometimes before) then home at the back of 6. Getting home did not signal the end of work though – I constantly brought work home. In the mornings I would read the local paper to get a feel of how the day ahead was going to be ! Even on a Sunday I would go in to do some prep work for the new week.

I didn’t sleep well during that period. There was a pressure on us all to be the best we could be and succeed in our new structure. Northern constabulary was working really well when it came to an end. We then went into a period of cultural change with a lot of fast time decision making for the greater good of the whole of Scotland. Sometimes, because of the pace of change, there was understandably no opportunity to consult with communities as we would have liked to have done. Decisions were being made for the right reasons but were impacting differently across Scotland. I ended up spending much of my time with counsellors and community representatives explaining what Police Scotland were trying to do. It was a very challenging few years. Nonetheless, I loved every bit of my time and would do it all again, given the same opportunity.

Let’s move onto life after the police…

Although I stopped working in May last year I didn’t fully retire until August due to the vast amount of time owed to me ! Those first few months off were good as I could step back from certain roles on committees etc. I didn’t get involved in too much during that summer period. I would definitely recommend to anyone retiring that they try and build in some capacity for a break before jumping into something new.

Having said that I do contradict myself a little. One day that summer when I was in my local bike shop (Helping a colleague with a new purchase) I was asked if I’d like a job ! I said I would come in a day a week just to see what it was like. I’m still there and love it. It’s not like work, it’s like a hobby. There is no pressure to sell anything. This is a complete contrast to where I was in the police, everything was target driven. The bike shop ethos is to “Help the customer make an informed choice”. Everyone who goes in is usually happy and leaves happier !