Written evidence submitted by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (POP0023)


  1. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) return to the inquiry is based on the responses received from forces and NPCC Committees, acknowledging that between forces opinions will differ and not all points raised in the returns received could be captured in the content below.  The NPCC has not commented on the question about the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.


Question 1: What should a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, look like? 

  1. Put simply, a modern police force should be able to meet the demand it faces and should have the skills and equipment it needs to deliver high quality outcomes. This means a modern police force should be agile, flexible and be able to adapt to societal changes. 


  1. Policing will imminently launch its 2030 ‘Vision’ which will ensure the whole service is headed to the same destination and will identify the key priority themes for focus and delivery which will help policing get to where it thinks it should be by 2030. The Vision is appropriately high level to enable policing to be fit for purpose in a range of future scenarios.  

New Demands 

  1. A modern police service must be able to keep up with the evolution of crime.  Already there are growing instances of crime in the metaverse, of cryptocurrency theft and big data theft – crimes that would have been hard to imagine 20 years ago.  The police must be in a position where they have the skills and equipment to be able to respond to these crime types, properly investigate these crimes and achieve convictions.  Policing must be ahead of the curve rather than playing ‘catch up’ with criminals. Crime is increasingly complex and policing needs to be able to respond effectively.


  1. While crime types will always continue to evolve, the volume of police demand will also be driven by demographic and societal changes in the populations that we police, and may be exacerbated by the decisions other public services take, often driven by the need to reduce costs, to reduce the level of provision for emergency response. The rise in mental health issues in the past decade is a good example of how this has affected policing as a service. 

Skilled and Equipped Workforce

  1. Not only will crime be driven by science and technology, but a modern police service will need to harness this science and technology to help detection, investigation as well as to improve the experience for victims.  This could be through using Artificial Intelligence, robotics or digital forensics to help predict, respond and investigate crime but regardless of the type of technology, policing needs to be able to understand and utilise these advances in an agile and effective way.  Officers and staff need equipment that is fit for purpose and enables them to do their jobs in a more productive way and require the law to enable them to do so.[1]


  1. Many forces in their responses quoted the Police Foundation’s Strategic Review of Policing report which found policing to be an “analogue police service in a digital world”[2] and many remarked on how complicated the digital landscape within policing is. A modern police service should look to see how it can significantly invest in technology and data at a national level to have maximum impact.


  1. A modern police force may need to rely less on warranted officers and more on those with specialist skills in line with changes in crime types.  All forces, however, should invest in science and technology skills for all staff as this will underpin everything they do in policing.


  1. Finally, the workforce should reflect the society that it represents and should employ people from a range of career backgrounds, from all socio-economic backgrounds and cultural backgrounds so that there is true diversity of thought and experience.

43 Force Model

  1. Many forces felt that the 43-force approach led to inefficiencies across England and Wales as well as inconsistencies in service.  A modern police force should look to maximise efficiencies where possible without losing the ability to tailor approaches where there is a clear and deliberate alignment to local needs. 


  1. As mentioned above, procuring and running national IT systems is a good example of a clear way to increase efficiencies and would ensure inter-operability across forces.  Inter-operability is even more critical as crime becomes increasingly complex. The growth in demand that comes from criminal activity that is borderless, global and underpinned by organised groups, is equally matched by the growth in demand from activity that is hidden from view which often impacts the most vulnerable groups in society necessitating a joined-up approach across policing.


Defined Purpose 

  1. In order to be a modern police service, policing needs a clear purpose.  It cannot be all things to all people. 


  1. It is a well acknowledged challenge that support for those facing mental health challenges, reduced capacity in adult and children’s care services, fewer youth support and engagement organisations and other pressures on public and charitable services have placed increased demand on policing.  Whilst policing can, and should, engage in this work (and a public health approach is a strong way to conceptualise the challenge and potential solutions) there is a real risk that the time and capacity invested in this is affecting the police’s ability to do what only the police can do, namely identify and bring to justice those who are perpetrating serious harm. 


  1. Without a clear purpose, policing cannot accurately decide what to invest in, what to prioritise, what to upskill its staff in etc.  Policing needs other partner agencies to be held accountable for their responsibilities so that policing can focus on its core functions.


Question 2: What balance should police forces in England and Wales strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions? 

  1. As set out above, the policing mission has become far reaching.  Policing is often seen as the service of last resort and non-crime issues take up the majority of police timeThe core functions of the police have always revolved around the protection of life and property, preservation of the peace and prevention and detection of criminal offences, and these should remain the primary focus. That is not to say that other functions are not important.  Protecting the vulnerable, safeguarding and engaging in partnership working are key parts of police work.  The balance should not swing, however, so far that the police are picking up demand due to other agencies’ failures. 


  1. A significant proportion of calls to police command and control do not result in a crime being recorded. Police devote millions of investigation hours per year to missing person reports and responding to welfare issues associated with mental health.  The Home Office commissioned Review into Productivity of Policing is currently collecting data on the impact of mental health on police demand to demonstrate the effect on the service in data terms. Some functions that fall to policing through this route need to be channelled back to the most appropriate authority whether that be a local council or healthcare provider e.g. children’s homes to take responsibility for repeat missing young people, NHS to lead on those in mental health crisis. 


  1. The volume of officer hours that could be released through non-crime incidents being directed to the correct agency is significant.  Those hours could be much better spent preventing crime happening in the first place and reducing the number of people who become victims at all.  Within policing, there is a renewed focus on prevention activity and there are a range of prevention specialists within policing with a wealth of knowledge and experience.


  1. Prevention activity often requires a long-term focus, however, and this can be in tension with the desire for short term results. Identifying tangible benefits of prevention, particularly in a system where demand is increasing, is much harder than is the case for crime response.  Longer term, sustainable funding to support co-ordinated interventions is needed for prevention to be effective.  Prevention efforts needs to be evidence led and data driven for there to be demonstrable positive outcomes.


  1. Policing is not the only agency who should focus on crime prevention.  There is a clear role for industry in designing out crime as they have the levers to make a significant contribution to prevention, particularly in the growing areas of fraud and cyber-crime.  These crimes in particular, need to be prevention led as enforcement against such crimes is increasingly complex and challenging, reflecting the cross-border nature of the threats.  In addition, product design is critical for reducing opportunities by designing out crime in the first instance.  This is of real importance in key areas of acquisitive crime such as burglary (secured by design principles for houses) and vehicle crime (technological capabilities to reduce opportunities for vehicle theft).   It would be helpful if the Government could ensure industry take on this duty to design out crime


Question 3: What roles should police forces prioritise? 

  1. It should be noted that what police forces prioritise will vary from force to force depending on their population, their geography and their local needs.  Priorities will also shift over time and potentially even from season to season.  It is very difficult to set out a list of roles that forces should prioritise but the key thread underpinning all responses received from forces was that the police should prioritise those functions which only the police can do.


  1. By prioritising functions only the police can do, this might manifest itself in prioritising:







  1. It is, however, more nuanced that just identifying specialisms.  Cutting through all these examples should be a focus on improving victim care and outcomes for victims.


  1. It goes without saying that there a range of roles that enable these areas to function and there is a need for investment and focus on these.  The Police Uplift Programme focused on increasing officer numbers but did not focus on increasing corresponding numbers of staff who also play mission critical roles whether that is control room staff, digital forensics or data analysts to name but a few.


Question 4: What can be best done to improve community (i.e. Neighbourhood) policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when officer behaviour falls below required standards? 

  1. Transparency, professionalism, visibility and confidence are essential to improve community relations and build trust with policing.  

Neighbourhood and Community Officers

  1. Every interaction between the public and the police is an opportunity to engage with the community, to build positive perceptions of policing and to enhance the relationship between the public and the police. All officers and staff should have the skill set required to openly engage with those they serve.  Neighbourhood policing should, however, be viewed as a specialism more than it currently is with opportunities for continued professional development, potential for a national curriculum to ensure consistent standards and more emphasis within forces of the positive impact neighbourhood teams can have.


  1. To genuinely engage with communities at a local level, the police should play an active role in community forums (not necessarily led by police) where they can share information about local risks so that the community can make informed judgements, but where the police respect the outcomes and community views. To further help with transparency, policing should explain how resources are prioritised and the impact of decisions about how to deploy officers.  There is also a role for the PCC to explain local priorities. Open discussion and greater transparency around issues such as use of powers, stop and search, use of force, stop and account, road traffic stops etc can help build trust with communities. 


  1. Visibility not only applies to walking the beat’ but increasingly means that the public should be able to communicate and engage with police online.  Policing is currently building a ‘Citizen Portal’ to enable police to keep the public informed about community policing digitally and is an example of how policing needs to be receptive to how the people they serve communicate.


  1. Neighbourhood policing (including Police Community Support Officers) is the key connection between the public and their police and it is therefore critical that this model of policing is invested in, as confidence in policing is often associated with policing being visible, accessible and dealing with the issues that matter to local communities.  Demand pressures, however, can mean that neighbourhood policing is put under pressure when forces have to respond to emergency incidents and there can be a high abstraction rate. Addressing wider demand and resourcing issues is key to ensuring neighbourhood policing can continue to deliver successful outcomes. 

Disciplinary Powers

  1. When officers and staff do not demonstrate the expected standards of professionalism required within policing this can have a significant and lasting damaging effect on the confidence the public have with policing.  It is right that there is a robust disciplinary system in place and that police conduct hearings are made public.  Forces should be transparent with communities about the number of officers under investigation and the number found guilty of misconduct.


  1. Many forces commented on the role of Legally Qualified Chairs (LQC) in the disciplinary process as this has led to an inconsistent approach to decision making around outcomes for those found guilty of misconduct. Decisions of the LQC to retain an officer found guilty, is often contrary to the published standards of the force in terms of behaviour which is incompatible with being a police officer. When deciding whether to retain an officer, a requirement that the LQC consider the consequence or impact of that decision on wider public confidence might narrow this disparity.  
  2. More could be done to ensure that the complainant’s experience is prioritised.  The current process is slow and both officers and complainants have to wait long times to hear the outcome which does not help create a sense of justice being done.


Question 5: What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as CPS? 

  1. A more productive question might be to ask how justice can be better obtained.  Focusing on conviction rates can create perverse incentives within the system. In particular, efforts that forces make to reduce crime by pursuing out of court disposals that have a diversionary element are not formally recognised as a successful outcome, yet they take energy and effort to achieve, have the victim at the heart of the process and can help reduce crime by forcing offenders to change behaviour. There are a number of such schemes in operation but until full credit is given for this work, it is less attractive than it could be for forces to invest in.
  2. The importance of having swift justice cannot be underestimated.  Delays impact on conviction rates as both victims and witnesses may drop out and therefore positive outcomes are harder to obtain. The single biggest issue that is holding back improvements elsewhere in the system is the court backlog, particularly in the Crown court. The delays that result from this make the prosect of supporting a prosecution less attractive which in turn tends to increased witness attrition, The support needed to maintain engagement with victims and witnesses provided by police witness care units has increased enormously both in terms of the caseload each witness care officer holds, but also in the contact each case requires. Further, the CPS have to service the cases in the system, thus reducing their capacity to service new referrals from the police service, leading to delays and frustration at the ‘entry point.




  1. Developments in technology means that there are now increased opportunities for detection such as body worn camera and CCTV which should help capture evidence and secure convictions.  There is, however, an associated resource cost to this increase in data even for the simplest of cases.  Forces need to focus on the timeliness of their investigations and to increase capacity where needed.  Policing should expect, however, the same timeliness from its statutory partners for medical statements, forensic submissions, third party statements etc.  The case for a clearer process for requesting and receiving third party material has been made as part of the recent Attorney General’s review of disclosure, but more could still be done to introduce a statutory requirement for bodies to comply with police requests within a reasonable timeframe. 

Crime Recording Rules

  1. Home Office crime recording rules are increasingly complex, and have, in some instances, removed the connection between what is recorded and what a member of the public might understand the records to mean. This creates confusion for officers as well as the public and detracts from effective and thorough investigation. It also leads to considerable effort and expense in ensuring compliance with those rules – it is estimated that nationally it equates to £47 million per year requiring circa 1168 staff. A much simpler process is needed.


Relationship with the Crown Prosecution Service

  1. The relationship with the CPS at a strategic level is strong, with a jointly chaired Operational Improvement Board which directs national work focused on improving performance across a range of areas. The challenge remains the local relationships between forces and the local CPS prosecution team. Where there is a strong and supportive relationship, this is usually reflected in positive performance but there is still too much inconsistency across England and Wales and this is something that the further development of CJ scorecards will highlight.


  1. When CPS staff were co-located within police stations this led to a positive and constructive relationship and allowed quick time discussions to be had and informal advice to be soughtThis contributed to improved file quality and a wider appreciation of what could legitimately be put before the courts.  Currently, many forces feel there is a disconnect between the police and the CPS, with a focus on technical issues rather than substantive points of challenge. Many forces thought if informal conversations could happen more often this would help improve communications between police and the CPS. 

Attorney General Guidelines

  1. Whilst the recent review of the Attorney General’s guidelines was welcome and went some way to helping officers navigate what is a complicated landscape, issues remain. A good example of this is redaction, where there is a tension between the police’s duty to share material and the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA). There is no exception to the duties under the DPA for the police or the CPS even though policing has argued for the creation of a ‘redaction bubble’ which would allow the police to share unredacted material with the CPS at pre-charge advice stage.


  1. In recent months, the police and CPS have published revised joint redaction principles, but these have to reflect the law as it currently is. Annex D to the revised Attorney General’s guidelines does introduce the concept of proportionality in some limited circumstances but this has yet to be tested fully.  If simplification of the disclosure processes could be achieved, this would free significant investigative capacity and help improve performance.   More robust application of rules intended to ensure defendants provide the substance of their defence as early as possible, so that trials therefore focus on the material issues, would also help target energies.


Increasing Capacity in the Courts

  1. To reduce the number of cases going to courts in the first place, there should be a significant increase in capacity for in-custody charging decisions, including non-remand to custody cases.  This would help speed up the process.


  1. Courts should make use of technology to speed up processes and have digitally enabled court sittings we well as increased number and length of sitting days to help tackle the backlog of cases. 

Victim Focused Approach

  1. The whole criminal justice system must take a victim focused approach.  Cases put forward must be victim led rather than target driven and the more clarity there can be about investigations being proportionate and protecting the rights of victims and witnesses the better.  Particularly in rape and sexual assault cases, barriers to justice such as ‘rape myths’ must be dispelled


October 2022 



[1] The Criminal Justice Act of 1967 restricts the use of technology to take statements and present evidence at court because of the way the legislation is worded.  

[2] Strategic Review of Policing (policingreview.org.uk)