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New Landscape of policing not yet complete, say MPs

17 February 2015

The Home Affairs Committee publishes report on the College of Policing.

Findings

The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has today published its report, Evaluating the new architecture of policing: the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency. This is the final report as part of the Committee's ongoing work which has look at all aspects of the landscape of policing.

The Committee made the following recommendations: 

Force mergers

  • We are concerned that some police forces believe that they will not be able to operate in their current form while making further efficiency savings. Potential savings from collaboration between forces and between the emergency services at local level have not yet been fully realised and this offers the best opportunity to achieve further efficiency gains. We recommend that where pre-existing alliances have proved successful, and there is local support, police forces should be allowed to merge.

The College of Policing

  • The College of Policing has a vision and purpose and has delivered good wok on guidance and standards. However, the foundations on which the College was built were not as firm as they should have been. As a consequence of having to overcome initial hurdles, the College is not achieving the outcomes that it should. There is much to be done for the College to become the type of institution that it was originally hoped it would be.
  • A lack of face-to-face training will leave officers ill-equipped to engage with communities. The College, and forces, should not lose sight of the value of face-to-face training in groups. Interpersonal skills are paramount in policing and officers regularly have to deal with highly challenging situations where they rely entirely on their people skills. This cannot easily be developed online.
  • We remain of the view that the cost of obtaining the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing, which in some police force areas is a pre-entry requirement, is putting off talented and diverse recruits. This type of pre-recruitment qualification, which may be prohibitively expensive for some candidates, may stifle diversity.

Policing Code of Ethics

  • The Policing Code of Ethics needs to be in the DNA of police officers, so a policing Hippocratic Oath is required. We recommend that everybody who is bound by the Code be required to acknowledge it formally by signing a copy of the Code and swearing an oath to the Queen. The Code of Ethics should incorporate the disciplinary code, following the example of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, so that breaching the Code automatically triggers an investigation.

The National Crime Agency

  • We are not seeing the level of performance we would expect from the National Crime Agency (NCA), as it is not recovering assets in sufficient volume to justify a budget of half a billion pounds. The NCA must improve drastically in this area so that the returns achieved equate to the resources that are made available to it. Furthermore, the NCA needs to produce and make public benchmarks whereby its performance can be assessed.
  • The NCA must address the backlog of abuse inquiry cases which it inherited from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) with the greatest of urgency. It is very concerning that when CEOP received intelligence from Toronto Police, no action was taken.

Chair's comments

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"Since 2010 the Home Secretary has set out an ambitious plan for the new landscape of policing. However, more progress has to be made to declutter the landscape and ensure that the organisations created meet the rapidly evolving challenges facing 21st century policing. Force mergers are clearly back on the agenda.

The College of Policing was a great idea that has both vision and purpose. However, numerous hurdles, weak foundations, and an unrepresentative board have hindered its ability to function to its full potential. In time, the College has the power to fashion a new concept of policing. For the local bobby, he or she needs a certificate of policing that is affordable, an oath that is binding and ethics that are ingrained within its DNA, and training that is practical, however at the moment none of this exists.

The NCA has been a success, and has proved to be more responsive and more active than its predecessor SOCA, but it is not yet the FBI equivalent that it was hailed to be. Its reputation has been damaged by the unacceptably slow response to the backlog of child abuse cases sent to it by Toronto Police. The NCA must establish practical benchmarks against which its performance can be assessed. Its current asset recovery is not of a sufficient volume when set against its half a billion pound budget."

Key facts

  • Budgets 2014-15: National Crime Agency £464m; College of Policing £73.9m
  • Staff numbers 2014-15: National Crime Agency 4,041; College of Policing 706
  • NCA seized assets: £22.5 million in its first year; 3,229 arrests; 400 convictions
  • Number of police officers: 127,909; Number of minority ethnic police officers: 6,715 (5.2%)
  • College of Policing Board Members: 15; BME College of Policing Board Members: 1

Further information