How to Get Ahead
It used to be the case that those PCs who had been noticed as especially competent would swiftly achieve an Acting Sergeant post. Sometimes this was just luck as to whether the superintendent was on duty when a PC had a particularly good day, but the idea was that over time the good people would be identified. The promotion board would then be conducted by someone who had actually seen them in action as a sergeant and was determined to have them promoted within his area.
It was soon pointed out that this process was exceedingly unfair, as it meant that PCs who were totally incompetent and useless had absolutely no chance of being promoted. As a result, promotion boards were moved to headquarters and conducted by people who had never worked with the applicant. That way they couldn't be biassed against them by witnessing their daily cock-ups. Now, it is fair to say that competence has very little bearing on promotion, which is of course what every 21st Century employer should strive for.
On the other side of the coin, the disadvantage of headquarters-based promotion is that it prevents local superintendents from conducting legitimate vendettas against people they don't like for no good reason. Vendettas like these are the cornerstone of good area management: if newly-promoted sergeants and inspectors are allowed to run amok with their own leadership styles and ideas, how can the area ever place performance figures above commonsense where they belong?
Never fear, my own area has solved this crisis. For whilst formal promotion must be done through headquarters, nobody can stop local superintendents from giving temporary promotions and Acting posts to whoever they want. All that needs to be done is ensure that every post going is a temporary one, which can just be extended indefinitely. The chosen candidate is then assured of being the only person who has any relevant experience when they go for their actual board.
A victory over bureauracy, I think you will agree. The fact that over half of the well-qualified and competent PCs and sergeants in Blandmore have zero hope of ever being promoted is just a minor drawback.
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.