Derbyshire Police Federation

Annual assessment is a 'wake up call' for the Government

15 June 2023

Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton says the annual assessment of policing must serve as a wake-up call for the Government. 

The head of the policing inspectorate said the police service is at a historic turning point – and there is a limited window of opportunity to repair public trust. 

Tony said: “High levels of public trust and confidence are absolutely vital to ensuring policing by consent. Any drop in trust makes it harder for us do our jobs. It’s hard to reverse that loss of trust and confidence and it will take time to rebuild.

“We need to listen to our communities and focus on the issues that matter to the public and address their concerns. 

“A return to neighbourhood policing will help us do that and to build relationships, as this report highlights. 

“But more than a decade of underinvestment, cuts to the service and a decline in police numbers have consequences, which we’ve been saying for years and again this report acknowledges. 

“It’s left us short of the officers and staff and the experience we need to be able to do what the public wants of us – and that will also have had an impact on trust.  The recent national replacement of the 20,000 officers lost during austerity is only the start of repairing the damage done to officers’ wellbeing and public confidence in the service. 

“Derbyshire have recruited 600 officers in the past three years and those are very welcome but inexperienced officers form a huge part of the frontline visible to communities. As passionate and hardworking as they are, it will take years to replace the experience lost to policing.

“The report also acknowledges the decline in police officers’ real-term salaries and the problems that creates in both retaining skilled officers and recruiting new ones. 

“It must serve as a wake-up call for the Government to provide the proper funding, this includes a fair pay settlement, to allow us to keep our communities safe.” 

In his first annual assessment of policing in England and Wales, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke has called for major reform, including new powers in law for the inspectors of constabulary. 

His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke

These include giving the chief inspector of constabulary power to give direction to a police force when there are significant concerns about public safety. 

The chief inspector described widespread systemic failings in both the police and criminal justice system, both of which threaten to damage public trust in police. 

He has called for definitive action to be taken to address these failings, instead of “glossy strategies and mission statements” that do not bring about lasting change. 

In the State of Policing 2022, Mr Cooke said the police need to prioritise the issues that matter most to the public. 

He added that forces were failing to get the basics right in investigation and responding to the public, and they needed to concentrate on effective neighbourhood policing. 

Mr Cooke added that critical elements of the police service’s leadership and workforce arrangements needed substantial reform, such as more scrutiny on vetting and recruitment processes, including for chief officers. 

The report’s recommendations to the Government and chief constables, include: 

  • reviewing legislation to make HMICFRS’s remit of inspection clearer and clarifying its power to inspect policing functions delivered by police and crime commissioners; 
  • re-establishing the role of the inspectors of constabulary in selecting and appointing police chief officers; and 
  • new research into the deterrent value of stop and search and the causes of disproportionality in its use.  

Mr Cooke said: “I was a police officer for 36 years before I took this job. I am in no doubt of the dedication, bravery and commitment of the vast majority of police officers and staff. 

“But there are clear and systemic failings throughout the police service in England and Wales and, thanks to a series of dreadful scandals, public trust in the police is hanging by a thread. 

“I am calling for substantial reform to give the inspectors of constabulary more power to ensure we are able to do everything necessary to help police forces improve. 

“Over the years, we have repeatedly called for change. There are only so many times we can say the same thing in different words – it is now time for the Government to bring in new legislation to strengthen our recommendations. 

“Change needs to start at the top. Chief constables and police and crime commissioners need to do more to make sure their forces are efficient and to get a grip on their priorities. 

“The police are not there to be the first port of call for people in mental health crisis or to uphold social justice. They are there to uphold the law. 

“Forces need to show professionalism, get the basics right when it comes to investigating crime, and respond properly when someone dials 999. 

“This is what matters most to the communities they serve and this is the way forward for the police to regain the public’s trust. 

“The fundamental principle of policing by consent, upon which our police service is built, is at risk – and it is past time to act.” 

Read the report.

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June 2024