(POP0027)

Written evidence submitted by PUPILS 2 PARLIAMENT (POP0027)

 

 

1. This submission is reported by Dr Roger Morgan OBE made on behalf of Pupils 2 Parliament, a long established project, approved by the Clerks of both Houses of Parliament to use the term ‘Parliament’ in its name, which works with schools to gather, independently and neutrally, the views of school pupils for submission to Parliamentary Inquiries and Government consultations.

 

2. The submission deals in turn with the first four of the topics set out in the Committee’s Call for Evidence.

 

3. The evidence given comes from an independently conducted online survey of 78 school pupils aged from 9 to 17, in two primary schools (Eardisley CE Primary School, Herefordshire, and St George’s Academy, Clun, Shropshire) and one secondary school (Bishop of Hereford’s Bluecoat School, Hereford).  The survey was conducted specifically for submission to this inquiry.

 

 

What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like

 

4. We asked the pupils open ended questions online about policing, answered individually with no suggestions being made to them about possible responses.

 

5. Six main themes emerged from their spontaneous answers, about the future shape of policing.  They are given here in no particular order.

 

High performance

 

6. The pupils gave a priority to high performance and effectiveness of the future police service in its core tasks of detection of crime and catching criminals.  Police would “look into things more”, “solve more crimes” and “catch more criminals”.  They would respond rapidly;  “do it on the day”.  They might carry arms and increase effectiveness by use of technology such as trackers.  They would enhance their effectiveness through persistence – “really try hard to complete the case”.  They would also have higher levels of training, particularly for the unexpected – “be more trained for any situation and I mean ANY SITUATION”.  The children and young people saw responsiveness as a key part of good policing;  “respond to all crimes”.  A full 24-hour rapid responding service is important.

 

Focus

 

7. Pupils nominated a number of specific issues on which they wished the future police service to focus – and one on which they wished to see a reduction of focus.  More focus was sought on protection of homeless people, countering drugs being imported and being brought into the countryside, on drink driving, on stopping racism, on stopping sexual abuse, and on countering major threats to the UK.  For the sake of the environment, they should also increase focus against littering.

 

8. Pupils however wished to see less focus on the protection of VIPs at the expense of wider policing priorities for the general public.

 

Presence

 

9. The children and young people we consulted wished to see a greater public presence of police and policing, including increased patrols on the roads, on the streets, and in rural villages.  They wished the police to be more accessible through more local police stations.  They saw it as important that there is as much police presence at night as in the daytime.

 

10. There was however a recognition that police presence is likely to be less in rural areas where it may be assumed there is less crime;  “it is a good safe environment to live here and you don’t see them a lot because they are not needed”,  “I haven’t seen them doing anything, though that probably means they’re busy”.

 

Awareness

 

11. Pupils saw a need for the future police service to make itself well known, and trusted, through continued actions to increase public awareness of its presence and roles.  Many children and young people had seen little of the police, particularly in a rural area.  The police service of the future would be committed to meeting with local people and visiting schools, as one of their priorities beneath their primary functions of detecting crime, catching criminals and crime prevention.

 

 

 

 

Relationships

 

12. The children and young people saw the police service of the future as egalitarian and respectful in their relations with the general public

 

13. Some felt that police currently don’t listen enough, and in future they would do more listening to everyone.  The police would also listen to children’s concerns and children’s evidence“just because they are young does not mean it is not true”,  “listen to even the smallest voice”

 

14. Police would not make assumptions about people and “judge a book by its cover”.  They would be “positive and be respectful of black people”.  In short, the police would “treat everybody fairly no matter who they are”.

 

15. Police officers would “maybe not be so intimidating”,  “be friendly”, and would not “be mean to people who are innocent”.  They would be “more embracing” and would “show that they are worthy of your trust”.  They would work on making people feel at ease coming into police stations if they are worried.  And they would be careful about the impressions they make on the public;  “once the police came speeding through the village and nearly ran over my dog”. 

 

Developments in police vehicles

 

16. The pupils consulted wished to see change and development in police use of vehicles for the service of the future.  They wished to see police vehicles capable of greater speeds to help catch criminals, to see more unmarked police vehicles, and to see greater use of silent electric vehicles to make their approach less easy for criminals to spot.

 

17. Linked to that, they also suggested making changes to the standard police car siren sound to suit different situations.

 

18. The children and young people also wrote about other aspects they wished to see in the work of the future police service.  These included, in their own words:

 

              To be there for us”

 

              “Stop bad things from happening”

 

              “Be more eco-friendly to help with climate change”

 

“They should not protect VIPs any more than a normal or homeless person”

 

“Do a good job and treat everyone equally when it comes to protecting them”

 

“Make themselves more known in the area – I had no idea that there were even police”

 

“Look around everywhere, even in safe places and small villages”

 

“Personally, I think the police are mostly doing an amazing job and they should keep what they’re doing, if not even better!”.

 

19. As a baseline for police performance as perceived by children and young people, we asked pupils to rate how well they thought the police do their job in their own locality.  The overall view was that the police do their job well.

 

20. 79% of pupils rated their local police as doing ‘well’ or ‘very well’.  18% rated their performance as ‘in the middle’.  Only 2 pupils rated their local police as doing ‘badly’, and none as doing ‘very badly’.

 

21. Here is a selection of the reasons given by pupils for their ratings:

 

“if the police weren’t here the banks would be robbed and loads of people would have died”

 

“I think they’re doing their job well because there hasn’t been any problems or any disturbance of any people”

 

“they’re not as good as they could be, in my opinion”

 

“because sometimes there are still crimes that they haven’t fully solved after a long time”

 

“nobody can be perfect”

 

“they ignore many cases that could be important”

 

“I don’t think (they do) very well because I don’t see many on the street”

 

“because there are never any crimes or anything like that around here”

 

“police put their lives on the line to help others”

 

“because they do a good job, but there are still a lot of accidents and crimes”

 

“I don’t really know but they seem to do a good job”

 

“they need to be who they are even at their work, but still do their job correctly”

 

“because once [an extremely serious crime happened to someone we know] and the police couldn’t help”

 

“personally I feel like the police are doing an amazing job and they couldn’t possibly do any more”.

 

 

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

 

22. We asked the pupils to say whether they thought the police should spend most of their time on preventing crime and catching criminals and less on their other roles, or most of their time on those other roles and less on preventing crime and catching criminals, or whether they should allocate their time equally to both.

 

23. The majority view of the children and young people we consulted was that the police should balance their time equally between preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions.

 

 

What roles police forces should prioritise

 

24. To gather a clear statement by children and young people on policing priorities, we asked the pupils we consulted to rate how important they thought each of a list of 15 police tasks is for the future.

 

25. Their top three priorities for policing included a mix of roles.  Their first priority is arresting criminals, but this is followed by two very different priorities;  finding missing people, and responding to major disasters.

 

26. Traffic duties came in the middle of the children and young people’s priority list.  It is interesting that police officers patrolling the streets came low in the list, and public relations and explanation work (visiting schools and meeting local people) are the lowest on the priority list.

 

27. Here, in descending order or priority, is their full list of policing priorities:

 

  1. ‘arresting criminals’
  2. ‘finding people who are missing’
  3. ‘sorting things out after a big disaster has happened’
  4. ‘helping to stop criminals from committing more crimes in the future
  5. ‘doing an investigation when a crime has happened’
  6. ‘doing projects to prevent crimes from happening’
  7. ‘sorting things out when a road crash has happened’
  8. ‘keeping traffic safe on our roads’
  9. ‘giving people advice on how they can keep safe from crimes’
  10.                     ‘protecting VIPs from getting attacked’
  11.                     ‘looking into any complaints people make about the police’
  12.                     ‘asking victims of crime whether the police are doing the right

things for them’

  1.                     ‘having police officers patrolling our streets’
  2.                     ‘visiting schools’
  3.                     ‘meeting people to explain what the police do’.

 

 

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 officers’ behaviour falls below required standards

 

28. We asked the pupils to rate their current trust in the police.  The overall level of trust was high.  78% said they ‘trust the police’ or ‘trust the police a lot’.  21% said they were ‘in the middle’ on the question of trust in the police.  Only one pupil said they ‘don’t really trust the police’, and none said they ‘don’t trust the police at all’.

 

29. These ratings may perhaps provide a useful baseline for future measurements of the degree of trust by children and young people in the police.

 

 

30. The children and young people we consulted wrote about some of their reasons for either trusting, or not trusting, the police.  Most were very positive;  “they help us a lot”,  “I trust that they’ll keep me safe when I’m scared or worried”,  “I trust the police because they always work hard and do everything they can to keep us safe”,  “they’re really smart and responsible”,  “I trust them because they have been trained”.  One pupil wrote “I know they always have my back”.

 

31. Some children and young people lacked trust in police effectiveness;  “if I was in trouble I can’t 100% rely on them”,  “all they do is talk and ask people if they have seen anything happen”, “often you report to the police and the criminal is not found”. 

 

32. Some were conflicted in their view;  “they don’t stop crimes but they are always happy to help”,  “they might not be able to do anything but I know they do their best”,  “I trust some, but you can’t trust all because some do their job and some don’t”,  “I trust the police because they usually do not lie”.  One wrote “I’m just nervous about the police but I’m fully aware that they help us”.

 

33. Trust for a few was eroded by worrying media coverage;  “because I hear a lot on the news when I watch it with my family about police shooting people or tasering them”.

 

34. Some pupils based their trust, or lack of it, on their own experiences of the police;  “I trust the police because all the police members I’ve met are all kind”,  “I am in the middle because once my friend got robbed – the police got them but they never gave back their stuff”.

 

35. There was also a worry about whether a police officer might not be genuine;  “they could be fake like a criminal in disguise, trying to get personal information like phone numbers, address, email, bank details and more”.

 

36. In relation to funding, we asked the pupils how important they thought it is that the police are always careful about how much money they spend on things.  The overall (median) rating was that this financial carefulness is very important.  Exactly half the pupils rated it as ‘very important’ or ‘very important indeed’.  Only one pupil rated it as ‘not important at all’, and 48% as ‘a bit important’ or ‘quite important’.

 

 

November 2022