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Commissioner’s Response to the College of Policing Strategic Intent Consultation

16th December 2013

Vera Baird QC Response to the College of Policing Strategic Intent Consultation – December 2013

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to comment on your strategic intentions for 2014 onwards. I am supportive of the overall aims and aspirations of the document and feel that the College has the real potential to be a valuable addition to the policing landscape moving forward.

Question 1: Do you agree with the Colleges role and the services it plans to offer, as set out in this document?

I agree with the Colleges role and think they are to be instrumental in the ‘professionalisation’ of the police service. Closer working with academia to support this professionalisation is positive but the focus of the police must remain on delivering core policing services and putting the needs of the public first.

I agree with the proposal in the strategic intent that the College will provide guidance, products and services to help PCCs meet their duties. I think this will help future leaders to be better aware of the challenges surrounding police governance and also provide PCCs with an insight into the challenges and demands of operational policing. I think it is very important that the College work closely with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to avoid duplication and ensure synergy with relevant work programmes where appropriate.

Question 2: What areas do you think we need to prioritise, when setting our standards?

When the College are setting the standards of professional policing practice I think it is important that the College recognise the operational independence of the Chief Constable and the governance role of the Police and Crime Commissioner in holding the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public. Any subsequent codes or regulations the College issue must take account of this relationship and focus on areas of policing where cross-force consistency is required, allowing local freedom and flexibility where possible.

Standards are important across the board, nonetheless areas that should receive particular importance in any police practice are ethics, integrity and fairness. Police hold a very important public facing role in which these standards of behaviour are essential to build public confidence and reassurance in the police.

Question 3: Are there any other products and/or services you would expect us to provide?

The College are offering a wide range of products and services. It will be important to review this on a regular basis in the formative years, with the involvement of key stakeholders, as the College becomes established and its roles and responsibilities evolve and embed.

It is also important that the College is transparent in its work to help build trust and confidence in police officers, partners and the public. In particular I feel that the College should work to review the transparency of the assessment of senior police officers with a view to promoting diversity, and also look at the public scepticism around recording and use of police statistics. I am pleased to see that the College are engaging with the Public Administration Select Committee, who are holding an inquiry into crime recording.

Question 4: How do you want to be able to interact with the College?

I am pleased that PCCs have a voice on the College of Policing Board. However this representation needs to be increased or strengthened. It was very notable at a meeting of APCC that the chair of the College Board had PCCs as an afterthought and had circulated to local universities a wish to work with them having no regard to the position of local PCCs which those universities or other local institutions, this is not good enough and this attitude has to change or there will be considerable strife since my experience of my fellow PCCs is that they intend to be effective in all relevant arenas including this one. The attitude of the chair was also inevitably going to result in a waste of the considerable accumulating experience and wisdom to be derived from the input of a range of differentially qualified and highly committed PCCs,

Those responsible for governance of the police need to be instrumental to the direction and delivery of the body responsible for shaping the policing profession and ultimately shaping our future police leaders.

In addition to this interaction at a strategic level it may be useful to have a more local focus with the introduction of regional/thematic contacts at the College who can build relationships with individual PCC offices across the country helping to strengthen understanding of the Colleges role in particular in aspects of policing in which individual PCCs have experience or upon which they are focussing.

This strengthening of relationships and understanding of each other’s business will help the College to shape future work programmes and tailor professional development to meet the needs of the evolving world of police governance.

A regular electronic bulletin or update for PCCs may also be useful in raising awareness of ‘what works’ and future opportunities for engagement and learning and they should be invited to contribute to it

Question 5: How can the College engage most effectively with you?

Specifically it would be useful for PCCs to be involved in the Police National Assessment Centre and Senior Command Course to fully understand and influence the assessment process of future leaders of our police forces. It would also be useful for PCCs to have an oversight in the design and application of other courses delivered by the College with a view to best understand the policing landscape and emerging issues and be part of the learning journey.

Question 6: How can the College engage the public and community organisations most effectively?

Public engagement should be embedded within the Colleges missions, key strategies and operational plans to help to provide focus, meaning, emphasis and support for public engagement. This may include an organisational public engagement strategy led at senior levels and communicated effectively both internally and externally.

The public and community and voluntary sector will be best placed to answer how they most effectively would like to be engaged with the work of the College; any engagement must have a clear purpose and be structured to best meet the needs of those the College are trying to engage.

Understanding the policing needs of the public will help the College shape future leaders that are attuned to the public’s needs and who will in turn then provide us with the best opportunity to build public reassurance and confidence in our policing services.

Question 7: Are there any partners or partner bodies we have not mentioned that should be explicitly included?

No. I am very pleased to see that you have recognised the importance of working with a wide range of partners including criminal justice agencies, health partners and the public. Identifying and sharing good practice across a range of sectors will help the College to drive forward the improvements in policing and crime reduction that it strives for.

Question 8: What are your views on membership issues, including categories, benefits and charges?

I acknowledge that in other professions some element of funding can come from members, through various forms such as subscription and membership fees. If charging is introduced it will be imperative that charging structures are clear and benefits are introduced that members can relate to, helping members to build a sense of ownership and alignment with the Colleges strategic intent and work programme.

In this current economic climate it is important that the College adopts a funding strategy that is sustainable and delivers services that provide good value for money.