“Unique and fascinating role” as a global leader in public safety

“Unique and fascinating role” as a global leader in public safety

James Slessor is a world expert in public safety who leads teams that help police, law enforcement, justice and national security departments become more efficient and respond effectively to ever-more complex challenges.

James was at QE from 1988 to 1995 and says his time as a pupil – and especially 1994, when he was School Captain – proved to be a good foundation, giving him leadership, organisational and public-speaking skills that he still uses in his job today.

He went from QE to read Geography at Bristol, from where he graduated with a First in 1998. After spending some time travelling through Africa, he went on to join Accenture (then still known as Andersen Consulting), where he has built a career in the firm’s Government practice. He has now been with Accenture for more than 20 years.

He has worked extensively across the UK criminal justice system with organisations including the Metropolitan Police Service, West Midlands Police, the Home Office and Ministry of Justice. Today, he supports a number of Accenture’s public safety engagements across the US, Europe, South Africa and Asia Pacific.

He continues to be based in London and now as a Managing Director, James leads Accenture’s Global Public Safety practice. This covers Accenture’s work in policing, law enforcement, justice and national security, and draws together the latest international insight to build new strategies, operating models, processes and technology solutions, and helps to drive innovation for public safety agencies.

“Overall, I help these organisations enhance operational performance, increase efficiency and deliver improved outcomes to the public. I have worked across strategic consulting engagements such as efficiency and effectiveness reviews, workforce transformations and system requirements analysis, through to stakeholder and programme management on large-scale transformational programmes.

“This is a unique and fascinating role – where I get to both look at the common challenges public safety agencies face (pace of change, new types of threat risk and harm, increasing citizen expectations and increased levels of digitisation), but also have an understanding of local and cultural differences.”

He helps local teams develop solutions which take both these common challenges and differences into account. Increasingly, the threats which public safety agencies have to deal with are global in nature, and almost all crime now has a digital component, he says, so Accenture’s clients are having to evolve to meet this and to become increasingly proactive.

“For example, at the moment I am very focused on balancing the need to help public safety agencies make the most of new technologies and innovations to keep up with, and ideally stay ahead of, the threat, but at the same time making sure that public privacy is respected and public trust and confidence in public safety remains high. I find that when you operate in a global role, it generally requires considerable levels of empathy and understanding so that these commonalities and differences are understood.

“I also think this is a skill I started to develop at QE in general – and especially during my time a School Captain – where the art of understanding others and developing the power of persuasion were critical.”

James adds that his schooldays have brought him benefits in other ways, too. One example is that those years equipped him for his work leading teams made up of a diverse range of people tackling an equally diverse range of objectives.

“The opportunities which I was lucky to have at QE, for example being in the CCF, have all helped  and allowed me to develop these skills.”

“I am often asked to speak at conferences and industry meetings – and continue to feel that the many opportunities QE afforded me to develop my public-speaking and debating skills have assisted me with this – and I still use many of the tricks and techniques I learnt back at school.”

James has written extensively in leading industry publications on a range of policing topics, including the use of social media, police information management, analytics and digital disruption. “The development of thought leadership, looking to the future and what this might mean for public safety is a large part of my role,” he adds.

“I am married to Nikki, and whilst I am lucky to travel quite lot with work, I also enjoy travelling in general and have driven across India in a Tuk-Tuk and climbed a volcano in Sumatra. However, that has reduced in the last couple of years as I now have a young daughter – which I think, as every parent will know, means quite literally every day is a learning day and generally you don’t get it right first time round!”