In the last 24 hours, just before the election, under pressure from the Labour election campaign and the media, both Prime Minister Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd have rejected criticisms that the Conservatives in government have dangerously cut back the policing budget and numbers of coppers on the beat. (“Simple numbers tell story of police cuts under Theresa May,” 6 June; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/theresa-may-police-cuts-margaret-thatcher-budgets)
Both Government and opposition have sought political advantage in the febrile political debate from the terrible terrorist events at the pop concerts in Manchester ( 22 dead, over 50 hospitalised ) and London Bridge ( 8 killed and nearly fifty hospitsalised) in the past two weeks
Each claims to have a tougher policy of terrorism.
Six weeks ago, on 20 April, Sir Tom Winsor, the independent Chief Inspector of Constabulary, published his annual report; and it makes salutary reading.
The reort notes “The Police Act 1996 requires Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary to report each year on his assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in England and Wales. The assessment covers the full breadth of policing work inspected by HMIC, and an overview of police forces in England and Wales. As required by that section, it contains his assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in England and Wales in respect of the inspection year 2016”
(State of Policing: The Annual Assessment of Policing in England and Wales 2016; http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmic/publications/state-of-policing-the-annual-assessment-of-policing-in-england-and-wales-2016/)
Here are some selected extracts:
For too long, a culture of insularity, isolationism and protectionism has prevented chief officers from making effective use of the technology available to them. This needs to change. Policing is no longer all local. There have never been 43 best ways to specify, acquire or use technology. Used well, modern technology should give the police an unprecedented ability to exchange, retrieve and analyse intelligence. But that is only possible if the intelligence is made available in the first place. We saw the consequences of failing to exchange intelligence all too clearly in 2002 in Soham, when Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were murdered by Ian Huntley. Failures to make reliable and timely intelligence available across force boundaries meant that opportunities to prevent these murders were missed. It is high time for a network code: a servicewide decision-making mechanism in which police and crime commissioners and chief constables pool their sovereignties in order to maximise the effective use of technology through the timely establishment of sound common standardswith the overriding purpose of affordable interoperability at its heart. Until we have dissolved to nothing the remaining technological and human barriers that prevent law enforcement agencies from obtaining and using the information that others of them hold, lives could yet be shattered or even lost.
The context of policing in 2016
...The neighbourhood policing model of small teams of officers dedicated to particular communities has also played an important part in developing the confidence and trust of the public and keeping people safe. In last year’s State of Policing 2015 report,7 I warned that the neighbourhood policing model was under threat; that remains the case. I will return to this theme later.
...Over the last year, we have witnessed shocking terrorist attacks on mainland Europe, and we have witnessed the bravery and selflessness of those who responded to them. The threat of terrorism in the UK remains real and should not be underestimated.
...HMIC has been working with the London School of Economics to develop a statistical model that can with considerable accuracy predict demand for police services. The model will allow forces to plan effectively at a forcewide level, taking account of variations in demand at a local level. Predicting levels of demand in these areas, together with an analysis of the types of incidents that constitute that demand, will help the police to establish the capacity and capability necessary to do much more to prevent such incidents from happening, or to respond effectively to them after they have occurred. The model is being improved and has been made available to the police service. I urge forces to make use of it.
...Recruitment and retention of specialists is a problem for many forces. We have long been aware of the national shortage of firearms officers.
The shortage of detectives has reached a point at which the Metropolitan Police Service has a shortfall of nearly 700, or 13 percent.9 This clearly has a detrimental effect on the force’s ability to investigate crime and needs urgent remedy.
...The cuts in public spending over the last six years have inevitably affected the ability of the police – and other public services – to make provision for those who often need their services the most.
Neighbourhood policing continues to be eroded
I have longstanding concerns that the bedrock of neighbourhood policing is being eroded. A dedicated neighbourhood policing team in a local community is able to build trust and confidence in a much deeper way than response officers will ever be able to. A local presence is also a vital part of understanding the risks and threats faced by a community, and is a critically important part of preventing crime. As the resources available to neighbourhood policing teams dwindle, the ability of officers to devote time to local communities diminishes. This necessarily leads to a significant reduction in the numbers of times that members of the public see a uniformed police officer. Since 2015, there has been a substantial drop in the proportion of people who say they have seen the police, on foot or in a police car, regularly, in their area. Our research shows that, now, fewer than one in five people feel there is a regular uniformed police presence in their area. Where neighbourhood teams exist, police officers are routinely taken away from their local areas to meet demands in other parts of the force area, leaving a reducing number of PCSOs as the mainstay of community teams. Such teams can do excellent work with other local public services.
Most people understand that neighbourhood policing can be a powerful force for protecting the vulnerable and tackling the petty crime and anti-social behaviour that blight people’s lives. But neighbourhood policing also provides the eyes and ears in communities that can gather the intelligence necessary for disrupting serious and organised crime and terrorism.
Where the work of neighbourhood teams is inconsistent, unstructured or insufficiently supported, it leads to a patchy understanding of threat, harm and risk within communities.
Without the intelligence provided by neighbourhood teams, forces cannot properly analyse and exploit data from other services. Poor neighbourhood policing leads to community engagement that the public finds limited, frustrating and confusing. There is recognition among forces that engagement needs to evolve, but all too often we find a general lack of clarity about how to work closely with local communities, obtain their views and communicate information to them. There are instances of good and creative work, but these are rarely joined up or supported by resources from across the wider force. The ways that forces use social media, including those channels specifically aimed at local communities, are highly variable, and most forces have much to learn from the best.
Overall there is no sufficiently consistent approach to tackling local problems in a structured way, or to adopting and adapting approaches that have proved to be successful elsewhere.
Post-election, the newly assembled Government will have a lot of serious evaluation to do, and quickly!
Police Federation of England and Wales Conference 2017
Session on officer welfare Police stresses require proper evaluation and care
Birmingham International Conference Centre Speech by Sir Thomas Winsor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tuesday 16 May 2017
1 Police Federation of England and Wales Conference 2017 Session on officer welfare Police stresses require proper evaluation and care Birmingham International ...
Extract: "As Sarah Thornton has today mentioned, policing isn't getting any easier, and it certainly isn't getting any simpler: tasks sometimes which would never have been done before, now require to be done and they require to be done with greater intensity. And complexity is everywhere. As we know, officer numbers have fallen by 18 per cent since 2010. And the demands on police officers and staff, not only in terms of workload, but also in terms of the skills needed to deal with the complexity of crimes and the other demands on the police – safeguarding, for example, and supervision of offenders – those are changing and are high."
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary
Sir Thomas Winsor
Sir Thomas Winsor
In October 2012, Sir Thomas was appointed as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. He is the first holder of that office to come from a non-policing background.
Sir Thomas graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1979 and is a lawyer admitted to practise in both Scotland and England and Wales. In private practice, he specialised in complex commercial projects, finance, public law and the design and operation of economic and safety regulatory systems for essential public services such as energy, water and transport. He was a partner in major commercial law firms in the City of London.
Between 1999 and 2004, Sir Thomas was the Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator, the economic regulatory authority for the railways in Great Britain.
Between October 2010 and March 2012, Sir Thomas carried out a review of the pay and conditions of service of police officers and police staff in England and Wales. The review was carried out at the request of the Home Secretary and was the most comprehensive for more than 30 years. It recommended the replacement of pay scales based on time service with a system of pay advancement according to skills and contribution, direct entry to the police at senior ranks, fitness testing and the replacement of the statutory apparatus for the determination of police pay. Legislation to implement a significant proportion of Sir Thomas’s recommendations was passed in March 2014.
Sir Thomas’s knighthood was announced in the 2015 New Year honours list.