Written evidence submitted by Neighbourhood Watch Network (POP0084)


RE: Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Policing Priorities


1. Neighbourhood Watch Network is providing this written submission to the inquiry into Policing Priorities by the Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons. Neighbourhood Watch Network is the overarching representative body for Neighbourhood Watch Groups and Associations across England and Wales comprising of 2.3 million members and 90,000 volunteers and coordinators.

2. In answering the terms of reference of the enquiry we make the following submissions:


3. What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like? We would strongly support  the findings and recommendations of the Strategic Review of Policing by the Police Foundation. Details can be found at: srpew_final_report.pdf (policingreview.org.uk)   We would particularly emphasise the public safety system and support a systematic approach to prevention.


4. What balance police forces in England and Wales should strike between a focus on preventing and solving crime and carrying out their other functions? We believe the focus on preventing and solving crime should be 70% of their function. This would include Neighbourhood Policing as Neighbourhood Policing including visibility of officers is a core aspect of confidence in the police, increased reporting, intelligence  and cooperation with the police which is a key driver of crime preventing and solving crime. We are well aware from our liaison with the police that the amount of police time taken up with welfare visits and interventions is huge and increasing. While there will always be a need for police intervention in welfare the vast majority should be the responsibility of other more specialised and suited services such as social care, health and mental health services. The chronic underfunding of public services has led to the police forces taking on functions that should not be theirs except in emergency circumstances.


5. What roles police forces should prioritise? Our members would emphasise the importance of Neighbourhood Policing roles and teams. The police need to be part of all our communities which by definition means being visible in them both virtually (on-line) but more critically physically visible.  Other more complex crimes and priorities which increasingly have cross force or international dimensions should be addressed by national teams such as Cybercrime and Fraud, Terrorism, County Lines etc not within traditional geographically focused forces.


6. 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? As above with focus on community and neighbourhood interaction by the police. Voluntary organisations such as Neighbourhood Watch and others have a ready-made networks and links in communities which the police can use and work with. Traditionally the police have viewed volunteering as something they can harness and control which with Cadets and Specials they do very well. However community volunteers such as Neighbourhood Watch’s 90,000 volunteers and coordinators and 2.3 million members are would be keen to liaise and work with the police to improve communities and confidence but are independent from the police and have differing motivations and priorities, as do communities. By working with these volunteers and communities the police can reap huge benefits and support but will not agree on all aspects, or what each think is best for the community. With more trained, skilled and committed officers trained in community liaison and development models (not a core police skill) forces will gain support, legitimacy and engagement from the communities they work in, with all the associated benefits in their ‘core’ work.

Where behaviours of officers fall below the required level, correction and/or disciplinary processes need to swift, clear and transparent. If it does not appear swift, clear and transparent to the public at large it almost certainly is not.


7. Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner? As above and with an even greater emphasis on Neighbourhood Policing and liaison along the lines above.


8. What steps can be taken to improve national conviction rates, including via relationships with other bodies such as the Crown Prosecution Service? This is not an area of knowledge for Neighbourhood Watch but there clearly should be very close relationships with potential shared and/or seconded staff between the services. It is clear that significant cuts in funding to public services including the police and CPS have reduced capacity. Combined with increased and changing demand it is inevitable performance will reduce. Increasing funding to these services will support improved conviction rates as will visiting every victim of burglary.


November 2022