QE2 Conference Centre todays host of the Police Reform Conference

 

Baroness Harris calls for a Royal Commission into Policing

It appears that there were mixed messages coming from ACPO and Government at the Police Reform Conference held in the QE2 Centre  in London today.

 

Several sources were tweeting from the event as speakers including Sir Hugh Orde, Simon Reed and Nick Herbert gave their views on the reforms.

 

Nick Herbert repeated claims that the Metropolitan Police were the only force recruiting praising his Tory friend and London Mayor Boris but was quickly corrected by a Surrey Councillor who stated that they were too!

 

However it was also widely felt that Nick Herbert criticised ACPO ranks when he said “The thing that I am increasingly doing is noting the Chief Constables from forces who are delivering these savings, all requiring difficult decisions I accept, but delivering decisions in a way which actually is protecting the frontline service, these are often the quieter chief constables, those who are not bursting out into the national media to give us the benefit of their latest opinion, but actually are getting on with the job along with their workers”.

 

He was of course referring to Chief Officers like Chief Chris Sims who spoke out earlier this week in the Times.

 

Following his speech there were several calls for an apology one of note was the Shadow Policing Minister Vernon Coker who said “This is a disgraceful attack. Oon chief constables who are understandably concerned about having to lose over 12,500 police officers because of the Tory-led government’s 20% cuts to policing,”

 

One tweeter even suggested he should be removed from his post!

 

John Shaw from G4S then as one tweeter explained ‘Exploded the myths and received wisdom about back office savings.’

 

Nick Gargan from the NPIA pointed out that ‘It is “facile & simplistic” to think you can save billions from procurement collaboration’

 

This was the press statement on the NPIA website: NPIA Chief Executive Nick Gargan today urged police colleagues not to be distracted from their central job of protecting vulnerable people by the large number of changes facing the service.

 

‘Speaking at the Police Reform Conference today in central London he said that the new Police Commissioners and National Crime Agency together with the impact of the Winsor and Neyroud Reviews would mean fundamental changes to the police.

He reminded the audience that police spending on IT was higher than in comparable industries. He also outlined how the NPIA’s ISIS strategy could help forces reduce IT costs and improve their service to the public. He added that every pound saved on IT could help maintain front-line policing.

He urged delegates wanting to reduce bureaucracy to fundamentally examine which services had become unaffordable rather than just trying to reduce paperwork’.

 

 

Sir Hugh Orde then spoke and said “The notion that police are the last unreformed public service is a complete nonsense” He continued to attack the Government mantra that “All we do is crime” In respect of the reform of ACPO Sir Hugh insisted that ‘The idea of the Institute of policing was not an attempt to have ACPO funded by rank & file’ He then referred to press coverage of Police reform and cuts Sir Hugh stating ‘There is a certain element of the British media that are out to discredit the work of the police … to justify pay cuts’

 

 

Simon Reed the Vice Chair Police Federation England & Wales was on the stage next. Here is a slice of his speech taken from the Police Federation website:

“If we are going to have such wide scale, but piecemeal, reform of policing then let’s do it properly.

Let’s review our role in this complex society – and

Let’s ask the public – what works and what doesn’t

Let’s find out what are their wants and needs from their police service?

Let’s ask them what they expect from their criminal justice system?

Let’s ensure we have the ability to identify and plan for future threats and challenges

Let’s ensure we are able to effectively allocate resources in time. We agree with the Police Minister that resources are precious.

This is the only way to ensure efficient and effective use of resources and reduce bureaucracy accordingly

The piecemeal and haphazard approach to reform has failed

 

Police officers are not resistant to change

The Police Federation of England and Wales is not resistant to change

In fact, we have been calling for considered change for over a decade now.

But change that must have the public interest at its heart

 

Not change for change sake; based on a whim by those merely seeking re-election

Ladies and gentlemen, what we urgently need is a Royal Commission on Policing

That way we can ensure we have a police service that is fit for purpose

A police service that delivers what the public wants

A police service that takes account of the huge changes we have seen in society

Our police service is the envy of the world

I can assure you that we are not going to roll over and the let the government destroyed it and jeopardise public safety without a fight”

  

Rob Garnham – Chair, Association of Police Authorities also spoke at the conference. This is a snippet of what he had to say:

 

‘We’re still here and fighting in the public interest both on today’s challenges and future reviews’

‘Police reforms pose a danger of infecting the police service with partiality and politicisation’

‘There is a danger of severe cuts being wielded by new police commissioners with little experience of policing’

‘There is a danger that partiality of commissioners could harm perception of each police officer’s independence’

 

 

There then followed a flood of concerns:

Police delegates raised concern of far right being elected to PCC posts with Simon Reed who was concerned that extremist PCCs were a ‘very real’ threat due to low turnout at elections and that PCCs will also be ‘too parochial’. He raised concern that PCCs will neglect issues like counter terrorism. Mr Reed also made mention of the fact that the precept should not rise when it has risen over the past 10yrs and that the public should not be paying more when they will have fewer Police Officers.

 

On Nick Herbert’s earlier comments suggesting silencing of some Chief Officers the Association Police Authorities later put out a press statement as follows:

 

“As Chief Constables’ employers, police authorities entirely agree with the Coalition Government’s programme for Government (May 2010) where it states that

 

“We need police forces that have greater freedom from Ministerial control”

 

- and are confident that the Minister would not wish his comments to be interpreted as an attempt to gag Chief Constables; not least as Chief Constables’ views and those of the Home Office and Police Authorities are of equal importance within the Tripartite arrangement which governs policing“.

 

You can catch up with the full brief by clicking on the following links:

Police Reform Conference – QE2 Centre London

http://www.govknow.com/event-detail.html?id=12&info=speaker

 

Minister Nick Herbert ‘Trying to silence police concerns about cuts’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13081708

 

As always YOU can comment on this article by clicking on the ‘No Comment’ tab at the top right of this article