Written evidence submitted by the Office of the Nottinghamshire Police & Crime Commissioner (POP0019)

What a modern police service, fit for the 2020’s looks like.

1. The police service must change and adapt to new criminal markets and enterprises. With this comes the consideration of changing global trends (data & digitalisation, evolving information and trust landscape, climate change/resource scarcity, digitalisation of finance etc). The operational context of policing must be prepared to fight crime on the digital stage, to not only identify criminogenic trends but counter criminal activity and implement preventive measures to protect the public. Please find bellow some key considerations for what service of the future may look like:



What balance police forces in England and Wales should strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions.

2. The Police are increasingly undertaking a social service role following the reduction in funding for this sector. There is a clear demand for this function, however, the extent to which the police should be carrying this out is debatable given the lack of training and additional funding to do so. All too often the police find themselves picking up the pieces where other social service have failed or have capacity restraints.  For example, Police cells are being used as places of safety due to lack of space in health care settings. Those experiencing mental health problems should receive specialist care and support from healthcare professionals, rather than police officers. A wider review is required covering health, social care, and policing, to define the balance that is to be struck across the agencies and ensure that the publics service requirements are met. The focus between prevention and investigations is highlighted in multi-agency working through structures such as MAPPA, MARAC, MOSOVO and SERAC (in the case of Nottingham). A national review of this multi-agency work in the context of MAPPA and MARAC is expected, local force areas must consider their work against this national review and reflect on their local delivery.

3. There is much debate on whether policing should be seen as a ‘service’ or as a ‘force’ and as such its priorities, the police service must consider the use of language and how this will reflect on public expectation of services provided. However, the police services underlying responsibility is to ‘prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment’ (Peel, 1829). This Peel principle remains true, with research showing that enforcement and punishment does little to reduce offending and serve as a deterrent. Whilst policing must navigate a myriad of functions, this should take a greater precedence.

What roles should police forces priorities?

4. Following the decline in central government funding in the financial years ending 2011 – 2017, many police forces conducted operational reviews resulting in reduction in the workforce. Whilst funding for the Police has since increased and the Police Uplift Programme provided an additional boost resource across policing remain stretched.   With this prioritisation has become essential to policing, with there now being local, regional, and national priorities being regularly set. However, an improved balance between local, regional, and national priorities to help avoid conflicting priorities across what is often a complex governance landscape.

5. With the Police Uplift Programme there are many young in-service officers working in response, these officers are often the first point of contact for the public. As such these interactions greatly shape the perception & reputation of the police making training essential. High harm offences were prioritised over activity more intrinsically linked to public confidence (ASB, Burglary & Theft).  This shift has debatably gone too far and needs to be re-evaluated now policing are operating in a different climate. This has been highlighted considerably in the recent SAC review published by HMICFRS, which spotlights considerable disregard the police have given to crimes such as burglary, robbery, and other acquisitive crimes. This has had major impact on public confidence in policing as the move away from “volume crime” as a strategic priority has created significant issues with victims’ experience and sureness in the policies duties.

What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards?

6. Policing is facing a crisis in confidence fuelled by high profile misconduct cases and the transparency/scrutiny afford via mass media/social media. Community/ local policing needs to be put back at the forefront to build back trust. Otherwise, the principle of policing by consent, for which the UK police has long been championed for, is eroded. Police Officers/Staff have also lost confidence in policing, more than often they want to serve the public to a high standard, but too often feel unable to do so. To address this, the police need better understanding of their local communities, and additionally how they want to be engaged. Community policing should look to have a multi-channel presence to reach all.  Census data & social segmentation tools can help inform how policing connects in more meaningful way. Each force area should have a staff member/members dedicated to coordinating community engagement between the force and members of the public. Specific consideration must be given to communities where public confidence in recent years has eroded.

7. PCC engagement initiatives have proven to be invaluable in engagement and trust, Nottingham’s schemes include walk abouts with neighbourhood inspectors, kitchen talks etc. These help the public feel their voice and needs are heard, which empowers them to have confidence and trust in the police service. Furthermore, there is more work to be done around making the public aware of the behind the scenes work of policing and the PCCs to highlight success & good news stories. The OPCC’s and PCCs in their agenda need to ensure that public scrutiny is central to their work, many public scrutiny groups have been developed off the back of the McPherson report. The niche we have in Nottinghamshire is that these groups have full access to police data when requested, to provide high level scrutiny and independent insight.

8. The Police are becoming less representative of the communities they police. This is particularly affecting relations with those from marginalised communities who already have a distrust of the Police service due to a legacy of under protection and over policing. Further work is required to attract and recruit Police Officers and Staff from diverse backgrounds.  Take learning from PUP, Police Now recruitment drives as these have been able to get a better representation, shared national and local learning while assist in developing the strategic vision for how recruitment can access marginalised communities. This will involve local scanning of best practice, who is undertaking this role in a successfully way and what are they doing which is different from other police areas, this is something the College of Policing may have a vested interest in developing and sharing with all local force areas.

9. Ensure Anti-Corruption Units and Professional Standards Departments are appropriately resourced, enabling a more proactive rather than reactive approach. Best practice can be taken from ACUs that are scanning and risk assessing employees to assist in the identification of insider threats. Furthermore, the police must ensure they are being anti-racist with their work and engagement, as public servants it is their duty to ensure all characteristics are protected not only in the internal workplace but also in the areas, they police and represent. Finally, there is a major point to be made around the inconsistency of funding streams from central government, while there is an appetite to test “what works” there is already major issues with staff retention and digital capabilities of some force areas. It is integral that central government supports local force areas with issues which centralise around their core functions before compelling force area to test out new initiatives that may not necessarily be successful.

Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner.

10. As above, ensure that the ACU & PSD are appropriately resourced to take a more proactive approach to misconduct.  Real change needs to occur to police culture, whilst this won’t be a quick fix, the Commissioner needs to be continually challenging its negative aspects. A key aspect to highlight is that the Mets reputation and behaviour in recent years is bringing down the credibility of all Police areas in England and Wales. Serious and significant change is needed, not only to benefit the Met, but to benefit the entire nation.

What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service.

11. Improving the quality and access to technology in the courtroom allowing the victims to have the choice of physically or virtually attending. This choice will encourage victims to proceed with police action and assist enable the victim to provide the best possible account of what happened. We need to maintain this momentum in improving and streamlining victim services to protect victims from revictimization in the courts, while ensuring swift and fair justice in brought to perpetrators.

12. Prosecutors should be involved in a case as soon as possible to give the victim a greater sense that their experience is being taken seriously.  This again will help keep victims engaged in the criminal justice process and strengthen cases brough to court which will lead to an increase in conviction rates, this may be especially applicable to RASSO cases. Prosecutors to have a greater presence in custody, not just for RAOSSO, which would help improve the quality of charges and outcomes. Furthermore, the police need to know early on based on the specifics of the case what is required of them in detail, this will remove the back, and forth which can lead to delays and victim dissatisfaction. The CPS does offer an early advice line for the Police but only for RASSO cases, there should be consideration to expand this helpline to build overall resilience in case support.

13. The blame culture for low convictions needs to be addressed, with the CPS & Police both blaming one another rather than working together. The CPS and Police need to work collaboratively to ensure that there is a local action plan on how they will work together to secure successful cases which can be taken to the courts.  The right balance needs to be struck between specialist and generalist staff, for example for Rape, Specialist teams can lead to better decision-making, fewer delays and improved communication with victims and the CPS.  Generalists tend not to build enough experience and expertise; therefore, bespoke case services cannot be achieved. The CPS and Police can work together to priories what requires specialist teams to deliver on prosecutions and case development, in order to create security and resilience once a case is take to court. Contingency plans need to be in place which recognise cross-sector risks, such as the ongoing court backlogs and strikes which have had and continue to have major impacts on the Police and CPS.

October 2022