Boost to officer numbers
Police have welcomed a 20,000 boost in new officer numbers from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but the views of operational officers must be at the heart of any policing reform if it’s to really make a difference, according to a new report from the Police Federation of England and Wales.
The detailed report – entitled ‘Rekindling British Policing’ – has been produced by centre-right Think Tank ‘The Policy Exchange’, and recommends a 10-point revival plan for policing. Authored by former police officer Richard Walton and Sophia Falkner, a specialist in the field of security-focused research, the 46-page document highlights that, over the past decade, there has been a 19 per cent decrease in real terms in expenditure on police services, while recorded crime over the same period has increased by 27 per cent. Shockingly, spending on the police service currently accounts for just 2% of public expenditure overall.
The document welcomes the recruitment of the proposed 20,000 officers targeted by new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, but suggests this should be supported with a more streamlined and faster process of co-ordinated recruitment and that the Government’s newly-formed National Policing Board should be responsible for leading “strategic change” within the service.
Among the report’s other recommendations are changes to recruitment policies which include suggestions for providing police officers with affordable homes, strengthening law enforcement at the local, regional and national levels, the co-ordination of national recruitment for police officers and the creation of a new three-year crime fighting strategy focused on the reduction of violent crime and illegal drugs.
As part of the drive to streamline scrutiny and oversight of policing, the report also suggests merging the Independent Office for Police Conduct into Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services to create a single independent oversight body dealing with police performance, complaints and discipline.
Reacting to the report’s publication, Ché Donald (national vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales) said: “The Policy Exchange report echoes much of what the Federation has been warning about for years, highlighting the devastating and wide-ranging effects that austerity, and the subsequent decimation of the police service, has had. It reiterates the need for properly resourced neighbourhood policing. I’m pleased to see some of the more innovative suggestions to assist with recruitment such as those relating to police housing provision.”
In conclusion, Donald stated: “The new Government – and those who shape its policy – has a real opportunity to reinvigorate the relationship between policing, politicians and the pubic and, by doing so, make a tangible difference. Police officers must be at the very heart of that process.”