11 March 2022
Derbyshire Police Federation has rejected calls for the introduction of a licence to practise for all police officers and warned the idea is “fraught with danger”.
The suggestion was one of 56 recommendations made in the Strategic Review of Policing which said the service required root and branch reform if it wanted to tackle a crisis in public confidence.
The first independent review of the police service for decades said radical reform to police culture, skills and training and organisational structure was essential to preserve the principle of policing by consent that has been at the heart of British policing for decades.
The recommendations included the creation of a new licence to practise for officers which would be subject to strict conditions and renewed every five years.
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton said there was long-standing opposition to such a move.
He said: “We have always been against a licence to practise and, to be honest, I think going in that direction would be fraught with danger.
“No one is suggesting officers should not be accountable for their conduct but this is a blunt tool to deal with poor performance when there are already effective processes in place.
“Police officers carry a warrant card and make an oath when they begin their career. They should be able to undertake that oath without fear of reprisal every five years.”
The Strategic Review was carried out by the Police Foundation think tank and was chaired by Sir Michael Barber who warned that policing was at a crossroads and that a crisis of confidence throughout the service was corroding public trust.
The key recommendations included setting up a new crime prevention agency alongside the expansion of the role of the existing National Crime Agency which would in effect become a British version of the FBI.
The review also recommended the merger of back office functions across the country's 43 forces which it said would save hundreds of millions of pounds.
And it urged proper investment in frontline policing, training and technology to modernise the service from top to bottom.
Tony said: “A lot of these recommendations back the findings of our own research, particularly around funding and visibility of police officers.
“We have always said proper funding and resources would allow the police service to be a proactive rather than reactive force.
“The current funding formula needs to be reviewed. There must be a fairer system to ensure we do not end up where those who can afford a higher level of policing receive it.
“I think this review has come at the right time. The public might be losing confidence in policing but so are police officers - just look at the results of the Federation’s pay and morale survey.
“If it is handled properly it has the potential to bring back confidence and let us deliver a truly effective police service.”
Launching the review’s final report at an event in London yesterday, Sir Michael said: “Policing in this country is at a crossroads and it cannot stand still whilst the world changes so quickly around it.
“Now is the moment to move forward quickly on the path of reform. The warning signs if we do nothing are flashing red and we ignore them at our peril.”
The review found that the police service has not kept pace with the changing patterns of crime while also having to deal with a huge rise in non-crime related demand.