The police service must change further in order to meet the needs of the public within a climate of continuing budget pressures, according to a group of experts from across the policing spectrum.
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The National Debate Advisory Group which has considered the issues surrounding policing in austerity is made up of experts from across policing, including six chief constables, a police and crime commissioner, the College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and from bodies representing all ranks of police officers and staff.
A short discussion document detailing options to be considered in the national debate has been produced through two national events and public consultation through polling and focus groups. This document is intended to encourage the next stage of the debate, with further views sought from the police service, interested parties and the public.
Speaking on behalf of the Group, Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary Steve Finnigan said:
“Crime may be down but the demands on the police service continue to rise. We know that the police service needs to change so that we can best meet the evolving needs of the public within a climate of continuing budget pressures.
“It is vital that we get this right: we are standing at the start of the greatest sea-change in the way that we operate policing services in a generation.
“We’re not tearing up the rule book, nor are we proposing solutions at this stage, as we’re calling for further detailed discussion. However, we’ve got together to suggest options for an ambitious programme of reform which need to be properly debated so that there is broad agreement on the most pressing and immediate reforms by the Autumn.”
During the course of the last year, the Group developed a series of principles which reflect the police’s mission to prevent crime and protect the public which must underpin any future change, as described in the discussion document. The principles emphasise a preventative approach to policing and the protection of the public, enhancing capability and close co-operative working with other public services locally.
A possible new framework for policing should include:
- accessible local front-line services, including 24/7 response policing, safeguarding, neighbourhood policing and local investigation;
- collaborative front-line services and partnerships;
- specialist capabilities consolidated into cross-force functions, operating to national standards;
- different models of cross-force working;
- harnessing economies of scale for support functions; and
- continued robust local accountability.
Any new framework must support the flow of information and intelligence to connect between neighbourhoods, cross-force units, and national and international policing efforts.
Strong political and managerial leadership, both nationally and locally, will be required to make changes across England and Wales and will need the Home Office to provide the expertise to establish partnerships and provide cross-cutting impetus to achieve broad agreement for the next phase of this work by the end of the year.