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Sales Strategy Documentation

  1. 1. REFORM A new force Dale Bassett Andrew Haldenby Laurie Thraves Elizabeth Truss February 2009
  2. 2. A new force The authors Dale Bassett is Reform’s Senior Crime Researcher. Andrew Haldenby is Director of Reform. Laurie Thraves is a Researcher at Reform. Elizabeth Truss is Reform’s Deputy Director.
  3. 3. A new force Reform Reform is an independent, non-party think tank whose mission is to set out a better way to deliver public services and economic prosperity. We believe that by reforming the public sector, increasing investment and extending choice, high quality services can be made available for everyone. Our vision is of a Britain with 21st Century healthcare, high standards in schools, a modern and efficient transport system, safe streets, and a free, dynamic and competitive economy.
  4. 4. A new force Dale Bassett Andrew Haldenby Laurie Thraves Elizabeth Truss February 2009
  5. 5. A new force Contents Executive Summary 5 1 The myths of policing 7 Myth 1: The politicisation myth 9 Myth 2: The local force myth 12 Myth 3: The intelligence myth 17 Myth 4: The scale myth 19 Myth 5: The serious crime myth 21 2 The principles of reform 24 3 A new force 28 References 39 Appendix: How the forces could restructure 42
  6. 6. A new force Executive summary Without effective police reform, England and Wales will lose the fight against crime in years to come. Serious crime is rising and mutating as new crimes emerge such as people trafficking and internet fraud, creating entrenched social problems. But the nightmare position of the public finances means that the police’s extravagant spending increases over the last decade cannot be sustained and will in all likelihood be reversed. The police in England and Wales are the most expensive in the developed world – costing a fifth higher as a share of GDP than in America. The structure of the police presents a block to necessary reform. The “tripartite model” – with power shared between the Home Secretary, Police Authorities and Chief Constables – means that Government does not have effective control over national policing priorities. The 43 forces are run as fiefdoms by their Chief Constables. To get things done, the Home Office resorts to bribing forces with sweeteners. Five myths have defeated reforming politicians over the years: Myth 1 Policing should not be “politicised”. In fact the police should be accountable to elected politicians. Currently the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) – a self-perpetuating oligarchy – is the key influence on police forces, in a textbook example of producer capture. It will gain more power over appointments in the new Policing and Crime Bill. Myth 2 All policing is local. In fact England and Wales does have a national lead police force – the Metropolitan Police – which is already coordinating serious crime fighting across the country. In addition national politicians interfere in day-to day policing, preventing local leaders from answering their democratic mandate to fight crime. Myth 3 The 43 police forces work well together. In fact the 43 forces operate separately, in particular failing to share information, as the Bichard Inquiry found. Myth 4 The 43 forces generate economies of scale. In fact waste occurs at two levels: unnecessary regional bureaucracies, and duplicated spending on serious crime at a national level. Myth 5 The creation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has solved the serious crime problem. In fact serious crime is rising, while SOCA is a white elephant. To move forward the reality should be acknowledged, both at a national and local level. The Metropolitan Police is the only credible force capable of leading on national and regional serious and organised crime. The Government confirmed this in 2008 by putting the previously abolished e-crime unit (at a cost to the taxpayer of £7 million) with the Metropolitan Police, not SOCA.
  7. 7. A new force Executive summary Counter-terrorism hubs, funded by the Home Office, operated by local police forces and coordinated by the Metropolitan Police present an exciting model for how effective national crime fighting could work. The Metropolitan Police should be given a formal role leading national serious crime policing. A change in the accountability structure would be impractical given the dual national and local role of the Metropolitan Police. However, greater scrutiny should come through full operational and financial transparency which is currently lacking. Until Jacqui Smith’s retreat in December 2008, there was cross-party consensus for greater local accountability for policing. The principle is right: smaller policing units solve more crimes per officer than larger ones. Proposals for local accountability have foundered partly because they have tried to follow a one-size-fits-all model for the whole of England and Wales. Proposals should reflect the varying reality of local government arrangements in England and Wales. In most areas, the natural arrangement for policing is for higher tier council areas (for example County and City Councils) to hold police forces to account. In practice 11 forces, such as Gloucestershire, can become accountable at a county level in their current boundaries. 25 forces, such as WestYorkshire and Avon Somerset, could be split to reflect local government boundaries; local authorities in these areas should be allowed to secede their local policing from the regional force. Seven forces have structures that are currently incompatible with local government. These recommendations require a new role for the Home Office and Home Secretary. The Home Secretary would become, in effect, the commissioner of national policing. The Home Office should then address itself to becoming an excellent commissioner of serious organised crime services and abandon its role in volume crime fighting at a local level.
  8. 8. A new force The myths of policing Since the establishment of the “Bobby” by Sir Robert Peel, policing in Britain has been characterised by strong emotional imagery and established practice. From Inspector Lestrade to Dixon of Dock Green to The Bill, public imaginings of police activities are based more on popular culture than practice. This is nothing new. The 1962 Royal Commission report on policing refers to “a certain historical sentimentality about the police constable”.1 The public still believe in the honest officer who is independent, uses his judgement and is an integral part of the local community. In their discourse politicians and policymakers are similarly subject to the “smoke and mirrors” that surround policing and its practice. Police themselves are in the grip of a powerful culture and sense of being; in discussions with officers, Reform has frequently heard outsiders referred to as “civilians”. Respect for the force The British police have been regarded as the best in the world. Much of the record of the police is positive, and a number of strong features exist in the current structure. Police officers are well-respected professionals with high status in society.2 Police in England and Wales are relatively free of corruption in comparison with other countries.3 The functions of police have vastly increased since the 1960s, as the service has evolved to deal with new threats like hi-tech crime and people trafficking. There have been high-profile successes in meeting these new challenges. The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, for instance, is a partnership of officers from the Metropolitan and City of London forces and fraud investigators that was responsible for £107 million in estimated fraud savings in 2007.4 There is strong expertise in the Metropolitan Police on serious crime. The police are loyal and proud of their work. Falling confidence But there are problems. Public confidence in the police, measured by the British Crime Survey, is falling dramatically. In 1982, 92 per cent of people had confidence in the service; in 2004 only 47 per cent did.5 A 2002 ICM poll found that 68 per cent of people thought that the police did not reflect local priorities.6 A 2007 ICM poll found that 73 per cent of the public felt that the police do not spend enough time out on the beat.7 The self-confidence of police officers is suffering. In North Wales, discontent over management style, mounting paperwork and targets has resulted in plummeting morale.8 The top jobs no longer hold the appeal and prestige that they once did. Investigations by The Times have found a dwindling number of officers putting themselves forward for the position of Chief Constable.9 oyal Commission on the Police (962), Final Report. R 2 uropean Crime and Safety Survey (2005), The Burden of Crime in the EU: The UK came seventh out of 8 European countries in terms E of public perception of police performance. iller, J. (200), Police Corruption in England and Wales: An assessment of current evidence, Home Office: The report concludes that M corruption is “limited to a small minority of police staff”; Transparency International (2002), Corruption at the Local Government Level: the US Experience: Local police corruption is “widespread” in the US. A PACS (2008), 5 ome Office (982), British Crime Survey: 92 per cent of people rated their confidence in the police as very good or fairly good; Home H Office (200), British Crime Survey: 7 per cent of people rated their confidence in the police as good or excellent. 6 oveday, B. and Reid, A. (200), Going local: Who should run Britain’s police force?, Policy Exchange. L 7 he Conservative Party (2007), Policing for the People: Interim report of the Police Reform Taskforce. T 8 Daily Post (2008), “North Wales Police officers suffer low morale says survey”, 9 September. 9 The Times (2008) “Police recruitment crisis as officers spurn chance to be chief constables”, 9 June.
  9. 9. A new force The myths of policing The tripartite structure Police accountability in England and Wales is in theory shared between three actors: the Home Secretary, the Police Authorities and Chief Constables themselves. In England and Wales, the role of Chief Constables is embedded through the tripartite system and ACPO. The Home Office describes its role as working with Chief Police Officers and Police Authorities to manage police forces. It says that “this system prevents political interference in policing and avoids giving any single organisation power over the entire police service”.10 The police are divided into 43 arbitrary regions across England and Wales. In some cases these regions match local government boundaries; in the majority they do not. The new myths The old myth of the Bobby has been replaced by a new set of myths about politicisation, the local copper, intelligence and serious crime that hold the modern force together and act as a barrier to reform. They stand in the way of genuine reform of the police force which would benefit the taxpayer, the public and the police themselves. 0 H ome Office (2008),
  10. 10. A new force The myths of policing Myth : The politicisation myth There is a belief that politicians can control the police, harnessing the force to reassure the public that crime is being reduced. Politicians try to “out-tough” each other with their talk on crime. The result is increasing concern that the police are becoming “politicised” and that their “operational independence” is being eroded. The recent Damian Green case has come to epitomise the problem. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, approved a decision to call in the police to investigate leaks by a civil servant working in the Home Office. The resulting raid on Mr Green’s House of Commons offices provoked outrage amongst MPs of all stripes, and embroiled Ms Smith as well as Sir Paul Stephenson (then acting and now permanent Metropolitan Police Commissioner), Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) and Michael Martin (Speaker of the Commons) in a public row over the independence of the police’s operations.11 Reality: Politicians interfere in policing practice but not the strategy Policing priorities are inherently “political”. Citizens have particular concerns about crime and they elect politicians who claim that they will address those concerns. However the lack of a clear sense of the division of responsibility between politicians and the police creates confusion and prevents genuine accountability. Police Chiefs’ day-to-day decisions are hampered by central targets determining whom to hire and fire, which crimes to prioritise, and how much time officers must spend on any particular task. Meanwhile politicians struggle to grip the strategic priorities which are heavily guarded by ACPO. The operational independence of the police is protected The operational independence of the police is not enshrined in statute.12 Further, the 1999 Patten Report on policing in Northern Ireland suggests that: “The term ‘operational independence’ is itself a large part of the problem. In a democratic society, all public officials must be fully accountable to the institutions of that society for the due performance of their functions, and a chief of police cannot be an exception. No public official, including a chief of police, can be said to be ‘independent’. Indeed, given the extraordinary powers conferred on the police, it is essential that their exercise is subject to the closest and most effective scrutiny possible.”13 But the actual independence of police to plan and execute their own operations is well in place, and case law such as R v Metropolitan Police Commissioner ex p. Blackburn (1968) has confirmed that chief officers have final discretion as to whether or not to investigate any particular case.14 Politicians interfere in policing practice Whilst politicians have steered clear of the operational independence of the police, they frequently involve themselves in policing practice. The tendency of politicians to “feed the fear”, frightening the electorate into thinking that urgent action must be taken and that the toughest-talking politician is best placed to take that action, fuels centralisation and has resulted in “the Home Secretary and sometimes even the Prime Minister taking responsibility for every assault”.15 Reform’s report The lawful society cited one academic who noted 33 “tough on crime” initiatives between June 2001 and May 2003 alone.16 The proliferation of targeting and central control prevents Chief Constables from exerting their influence where it matters. Unable to direct policing strategy and improve the effectiveness of their officers, they can focus on those relatively trivial issues and “pet projects” over which they do have discretion. Reform’s interviews have revealed numerous instances of Chief Constables’ micro-management. One example is uniform. Each force determines the uniform components its officers wear; one Chief will veto tunics on the grounds that they are impractical and not waterproof, whilst another will ban fleeces for not being smart or traditional. Senior officers are heavily involved in politics Whilst it is generally clear that there is little outright corruption in the UK, there is evidence that senior police officers spend time trying to influence politics and politicians spend time trying to alter police rince, R. (2008), “Jacqui Smith defends police probe over whistleblower affair”, The Daily Telegraph, December. P 2 ndependent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (999), A new beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland: “The term ‘operational I independence’ is neither to be found in nor is it defined in any legislation.” I bid. R v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis ex parte Blackburn (968). 5 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G 6 onry, M. (200), Punishment and Politics. T
  11. 11. A new force The myths of policing priorities.17 Decisions on policing strategy go through ACPO committees. One high-profile example of political involvement was the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, who campaigned publicly in favour of the Government’s plans to introduce identity cards and to allow detention without charge for 42 days. The result of this was an erosion of trust and the widespread questioning of Sir Ian’s independence.18 A force of “robots” The result of the centralisation of policing practice is police officers who do not use discretion. This has been amplified by the centralisation of operational decisions and technological changes – people now interact with the police by phone, not in person. Force Control Rooms determine the location and response of police on the beat, directing them to the crime scenes which are deemed the most important. But this strategy has transferred management of uniformed patrol officers from police Basic Command Units (BCUs) to civilian control room operators.The result is that BCU Commanders have no real control over the deployment of their patrol staff.19 This has led to the creation of a dependency culture amongst patrol officers who now just go where they are told. The prestige and power of junior managers such as Sergeants has been reduced to that of a highly-paid Constable.20 The proliferation of “civilians” in these areas has further implications. Reform has been told that after the Metropolitan Police centralised operations into three control rooms, staff have refused to stay once their hours are up, even if there is an large-scale emergency in progress. Tripartite risk sharing Accountability is diluted by the tripartite structure of police governance, which shares risk and blame across three parties: the Home Office, Police Authorities and Chief Constables. ACPO’s role in it is akin to the British Medical Association being part responsible for the running of the health service or the Association of Head Teachers approving education plans. ACPO’s blurred purpose and responsibility does not help. Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, recently said: “[ACPO] advises government, it sets policing policy, it campaigns for increased police powers, and now we learn it is engaged in commercial activities – all with a rather shady lack of accountability.”21 ACPO’s incorporation as a private company shields it from accountability, for example through the Freedom of Information Act.22 Accountability and the Metropolitan Police The Metropolitan Police is unique in that, as well as being London’s “local” police force, it has national responsibilities, in particular for counter-terrorism.23 This dual role results in confused accountability. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner reports both to the Home Secretary, for national serious crime, and the Mayor of London, for local policing. As such he is not accountable to any single person or body. A lack of local accountability The Home Office has filled the vacuum of accountability by taking more responsibility for decision-making along with ACPO. In other public services, such as health and education, government departments have also asserted their control. But these decisions have been balanced (admittedly to a very limited extent) by efforts to increase the power of local decision-makers, for example through greater choice of hospital for patients or choice of new types of school. Policing has not seen a comparable increase in local accountability. Part of the issue is the wider problem of weak local government structures in England and Wales. Because local government relies on central 7 iller, J. (200), Police Corruption in England and Wales: An assessment of current evidence, Home Office; The Independent (2005), M “Police accused of lobbying MPs over shooting”, 6 November: The aftermath of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes has shown some members of the police attempting to involve themselves with government policy and investigations. 8 aville, S. (2008), “The fall and fall of Sir Ian Blair”, The Guardian, 2 October: “Early in his tenure Blair earned the reputation for being a New L Labour lackey. Lobbying first for identity cards and later for detention for 2 days without trial, he was accused of being a mouthpiece for his namesake, the then prime minister, Tony Blair.” 9 N orthamptonshire Police (2009), Force Communications Centre recruitment website ( “Force Control Room Operatives direct and control police incidents ensuring the timely deployment of appropriate resources to ensure successful resolution.” 20 rooks, P. (2002), “Putting civvies in the control room is asking for trouble”, The Guardian, 5 October: “If you put a civilian in a job where B someone has to think like a police officer – the control room, for instance – then you ask for trouble. Imagine the army sending civilians out to battlefields to control a war, it doesn’t make sense. Well it’s the same in the police service.” 2 ones, S. (2009), “Police chiefs body faces calls for review after cash revelations”, The Guardian, 6 February. J 22 ssociation of Chief Police Officers (2007), ACPO and the Freedom of Information Act 2000: “ACPO is a private company and the Office A of the Information Commissioner has confirmed that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the Association, since Schedule of the Act does not include a definition which covers ACPO.” 2 etropolitan Police Authority (2008), Policing London Annual Report 07/08. M 0
  12. 12. A new force The myths of policing government for the great majority of its income, its own accountability is blurred and uncertain.24 Equally, the territories of most police forces are not coterminous with local government boundaries, making it impossible for citizens to know who is responsible for policing in their area.25 Proposals to increase local accountability have an unhappy history.The most recent example that foundered was Jacqui Smith’s plans to elect Police Authority members.26 One reason for successive Home Secretaries’ lack of success may be their failure to address the structural problems of local accountability, in particular the uncertain relationship between police and councils. The result of this is, in the words of one commentator, “a huge gap between how we want to be policed, how the police want to police us and how we are actually policed.”27 The Bichard Inquiry into the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham, Cambridgeshire strongly criticised the “worrying” lack of “clarity of accountability” of the police.28 The secret police There is a distinct lack of transparency of information available about the police. Reform has repeatedly found that attempts to research specifics on police budgets, strategies and accountability structures have been futile. Although Police Authorities do publish high-level annual budgets, there are no detailed, publicly-accessible accounts. There is no clear document explaining who reports into whom, particularly in terms of national bodies. Enquiries directly to police forces have yielded some information, but in many cases they have refused to help or suggested a Freedom of Information request. The Policing and Crime Bill The Policing and Crime Bill currently going through Parliament significantly tones down the pledges in the policing Green Paper on local accountability. Instead of endorsing the direct election of some members of Police Authorities the Bill calls for Police Authorities to “have regard to the views of the public”.29 Vernon Coaker, the Police Minister, has argued that this will “strengthen [Police Authorities’] current duty”, but David Ruffley, his Shadow, concluded that it represents “a very modest change”.30 The Bill also creates a Police Senior Appointments Panel to advise the Home Secretary on the appointment of senior police officers.31 This would be a change from the current system where senior police officer roles are advertised by Police Authorities. The successful candidate is appointed by the relevant Police Authority, subject to approval by the Home Secretary. The new Panel will consist of members nominated by the Home Secretary, the Association of Police Authorities (APA) and ACPO. This will therefore reduce accountability since Police Authorities will have less of a say in order to make room for ACPO, who will in effect become responsible for appointing their own people. The proposed appointment structure will strengthen the “self-perpetuating oligarchy” that is ACPO by embedding it at all levels. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, commented: “It is strange that [the Bill] gives ACPO a statutory position in advising on appointments when the status of ACPO itself remains undefined. Is it an external reference group for Home Office Ministers, or a professional association protecting senior officers’ interests? Is it a national policing agency, or is it a pressure group arguing for greater police powers?”32 Conclusion The problem for the police is not politicisation; it is a lack of accountability. The tripartite model and in particular the role of ACPO creates an accountability gap. Greater local political control over most police priorities would enhance accountability. It would clarify who is responsible for police performance (the police) and who can be changed in order to change those priorities (locally elected representatives). Better accountability will sharpen management within police forces. 2 D epartment for Communities and Local Government (2008), localgovernmentfinance/counciltaxes/counciltaxfacts/: Central government is providing local councils in England with over £70 billion in 2008/2009. Total local government revenue expenditure in 2008-09 is £98. billion. 25 eform research: Only of the forces are coterminous with the boundaries of local government structures (see Appendix). R 26 he Guardian (2008), “Labour forced to ditch police elections plan”, 8 December. T 27 ergeant, H. (2008), “The dangerous gap in policing”, The Sunday Times, 25 May. S 28 ichard, M. (200), The Bichard Inquiry Report. B 29 P olicing and Crime Bill 2008-09. 0 H ouse of Commons Public Bill Committee (2009), th Sitting, 29 January. P olicing and Crime Bill 2008-09. 2 H ansard (2009), 9 January, Col. 258.
  13. 13. A new force The myths of policing Myth : The local force myth “The civilisation of many English counties is sufficiently backward to make it hazardous for the Crown to part with power over the police; even if that power should be looked on as a proper municipal attribute, which I am inclined to doubt.” Lord Salisbury There is a belief that the 43 forces in England and Wales are independent. Chief Constables direct their forces, allocating funding and resources to respond to local needs and priorities. The forces are perceived to be strong enough and of sufficient scale to cope with the demands placed upon them. Reality: National policing is entrenched Lord Salisbury’s remark about local policing appears to have informed the attitude of the Home Office and ACPO. Reform has found that the UK has one of the most centralised criminal justice systems in the world. The centralisation phenomenon has been particularly pronounced in policing, where there has been a relentless drive towards government control through a many-layered management regime and the creation of a multitude of new national agencies such as the Police Standards Unit and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).33 In reality police forces are not independent. The Home Office sets strategies and targets. ACPO directs national policy and commissions national services. The Metropolitan Police acts as the de facto national lead police force and its Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, as the country’s lead police officer and adviser to the Home Secretary. The NPIA is also achieving some national coordination, albeit with little leverage. The four elements of national policing Effectively England and Wales already has national policing. The Metropolitan Police, the Home Office, ACPO and the NPIA together provide many of the functions that national police forces cover in other countries, albeit in a disjointed, inefficient and fragmented way. ACPO – the power behind the throne The Association of Chief Police Officers is a powerful and independent body consisting of Chief Constables, Deputy Chief Constables and Assistant Chief Constables. It has a major role as the primary coordinator of policing policy, encouraging the 43 forces in England and Wales to adopt the policies it promotes: “Few understand that ACPO is a private company, which happens to be funded by a Home Office grant and money from 44 police authorities. [It has an] important role in drafting and implementing policies that affect the fundamental freedoms of this country [and has been responsible for promoting policies including] police officers ... being equipped with 10,000 stun guns [and] the automatic number plate recognition camera network [being] set up to record and store data from most road journeys.”34 ACPO has the ear of the Home Secretary and this, in combination with its influence over senior officers (and those wishing to become senior officers), means it is a prominent voice in determining policy. Reform’s interviews revealed a widespread belief that ACPO is the main party persuading forces to adopt particular policies. If the Home Secretary wants to ensure the adoption of a policy idea, she will “strike a bargain” with ACPO to ensure its implementation: “ACPO is the driving force behind policy, and the Home Office succumbs, either because of its own autocratic instincts or because the police are exceptionally good at pushing through the things they want.”35 This focus of ACPO on national policy means that individual Chief Constables are left focusing on administrative matters and equipment choices. In fact this situation should be reversed: ACPO could take a useful national lead on administration and interoperability while Chief Constables focus on their forces’ operations. iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G orter, H. (2009), “The secret police are watching you”, Comment is free, 0 February. P 5 I bid.
  14. 14. A new force The myths of policing The Metropolitan Police – the de facto national force It is commonly thought that each of the 43 forces has exclusive control over all policing with their boundaries. In fact the Metropolitan Police has a key role as the de facto national lead police force. The Metropolitan Police has numerous responsibilities above and beyond those of the other 42 forces in England and Wales. It coordinates counter-terrorism operations, liaises with local forces on intelligence gathering and operations and provides “close protection” services to VIPs everywhere in the country.36 In effect it has informal responsibility for coordinating serious and organised crime fighting across the country, in conjunction with SOCA. The Metropolitan Police also provides national services which are in effect commissioned by ACPO on behalf of the 43 forces. Mutual aid The Police National Information Centre (PNIC) coordinates the allocation of “mutual aid” resources across the country, when forces require additional police resources. It is the central point for arranging the supply of Police Support Units (PSUs) and specialist services (such as motorcycles or firearms) from one force to another, and it administers the payment system for this. The PNIC is technically part of ACPO but is based at New Scotland Yard and is “resourced by the Metropolitan Police Service on behalf of ACPO”.37 Counter-terrorism hubs Counter Terrorism Units (CTUs) and Counter Terrorism Intelligence Units (CTIUs), established over the last two years, are accountable to ACPO(TAM) (ACPO’s Terrorism and Allied Matters committee) and coordinated by a senior Metropolitan Police Officer (known as the Senior National Coordinator). ACPO(TAM) is ultimately accountable to the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) at the Home Office. Their aim is surveillance and investigation of terrorist activity across England and Wales. These hubs are funded by the Home Office; the officers and premises are provided by the relevant local force, known as the “host” force. The following hubs are in place: CTUs (investigative and surveillance capability) CTIUs (surveillance capability) West Yorkshire East Anglia West Midlands South West Greater Manchester Wales Thames Valley (under construction) Derbyshire These hubs are reported to be successful by both local and national police as they avoid a national/local split that a national agency would create, yet they are coordinated to effectively counter national threats. E-crime After dissolving the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit into SOCA in 2006, the Government has launched a new Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), run by the Metropolitan Police. The new unit was created, at a cost of £7 million, after the Home Office acknowledged that e-crime was not being properly addressed by SOCA.38 6 M etropolitan Police Service (2008), 7 ouse of Commons (999), Minutes of Evidence Appendix 6, Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. H 8 H ome Office (2008), Press release: “New £7m specialist e-crime unit launches”, 0 September; Metropolitan Police Service (2009),; Pinsent Masons (2008), “OUT-LAW News: New computer crime unit established two years after disbandment of NHTCU”, 2 October.
  15. 15. A new force The myths of policing The Home Office – a Faustian pact with ACPO Given the roadblock that ACPO and the 43 forces have presented, the Government has sought to centralise and mandate, subject to ACPO’s agreement. The 1964 Police Act enabled central government to take many powers from local government in the name of fighting corruption.39 The 1996 Police Act enabled the Home Secretary to set national policing priorities, leaving power resting almost exclusively between the Home Secretary and Chief Constables.40 Since 2001 the Home Office has conducted a sustained campaign to take control of policing decisions. The Home Office published three National Policing Plans along with a variety of supporting documents, and established new agencies.41 Through these, the Home Office took responsibility for setting the priorities for police forces, for setting many of their performance targets, and for key questions of operational management. The result of this process was a considerable uniformity of activity across England and Wales, directly in line with the Home Office’s intentions. National Policing Plans The National Policing Plans were the clearest expression of the policy of centralisation. Each Plan set out a series of “priorities” for police forces to follow, supported by a greater number of targets, metrics or directives. National Policing Plans Home Office Number of top level priorities Supporting targets NPP 00-0 Four “directives” e.g. “Tackle anti-social behaviour e.g. “Chief officers should work closely and disorder” with local partners to tackle alcohol-related crime effectively” NPP 00-0 Seven (including two “themes”) performance metrics e.g. “Combat serious and e.g. “New statutory indicator of sanction organised crime, both across and detection rates for domestic rates for within force boundaries” domestic burglary and violence against the person by ethnicity of victim” NPP 00-0 Five “Statutory Performance Indicators” e.g. “Provide a citizen-focused police and metrics service which responds to the needs e.g. “Using the British Crime Survey, of communities and individuals … and [measure] the percentage of people who inspires public confidence in the police” think their local police do a good job” This proliferation of targeting and central direction inhibits local initiatives and priorities, leaving Chief Constables unable to exercise their prerogative to direct their force. Wresting more control The current Policing and Crime Bill contains measures that will increase central control over forces through new rules on collaboration. The Bill gives the Home Secretary the power not just to sanction and veto collaboration agreements but to give guidance and directions on which forces should collaborate and how.42 Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of the West Yorkshire Police, said: “Our reading of the bill is that ultimately the Home Secretary, who currently has the power, will have a mechanism by which to mandate collaboration.”43 9 P olice Act 96: “The Secretary of State may cause a local inquiry to be held by a person appointed by him into any matter connected with the policing of any area”. 0 P olice Act 996: “The Secretary of State may by order determine objectives for the policing of the areas of all police authorities ... The Secretary of State may direct police authorities to establish levels of performance [and] may impose conditions with which the performance targets must conform, and different conditions may be imposed for different authorities.” ome Office (2002), National Policing Plan 2003-06; Home Office (200), National Policing Plan 2004-07; Home Office (200), National H Policing Plan 2005-08. The Home Office states that the National Policing Plans should be “seen in the wider context” of the Home Office Strategic Plans and policing policy papers. Bodies established since 200 include the Police Standards Unit, the National Policing Improvement Agency and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. 2 P olicing and Crime Bill 2008-09: “The Secretary of State may give chief officers or police authorities guidance about collaboration agreements or related matters … In discharging their functions, chief officers and police authorities must have regard to the guidance.” H ouse of Commons Public Bill Committee (2009), st Sitting, 27 January.
  16. 16. A new force The myths of policing This drive towards centralisation includes giving politicians the ability to direct from the centre operational and practical elements of police activities. This could include, for example, the ability to create “a national suite of forms” or as suggested by Vernon Coaker, “you could mandate the IT systems and software that are used by some forces”.44 Whilst it is arguably necessary that common systems and procedures are rolled out across the country, it seems unlikely that Home Office Ministers, rather than senior police officers themselves, are best placed to decide what does and does not work. NPIA – the toothless quango The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was established in 2005 to “provide a large and diverse portfolio of products and services” to police across the country. Its job is to manage national infrastructure and encourage the adoption of standard equipment, systems and practices.45 It has certainly had some success, spearheading the rollout of the new Airwave radio to facilitate communication across forces, and leading the IMPACT information-sharing programme and the development of the Police National Database.46 However, although it is leading on these projects, the NPIA is powerless to enforce their adoption. The Police National Database, for example – which is costing around £600 million to roll out – is supposed to link up the computer systems of all 43 forces.47 But the NPIA has confirmed to Reform that participating in the new system is not compulsory. National funding The centralised model of police funding is a mess, eroding local accountability and inhibiting police forces from spending money where it would be most useful. It removes the incentive to spend effectively and efficiently, and denies local residents a say in how much they pay for their policing, and what its priorities should be. This disintermediation of the payment and the benefit prevents citizens from understanding what they pay for policing, and discourages them from taking an active part in reducing costs. The bulk of police resources comes from central government grants, which have increased by 58 per cent in the past decade.48 The amount allocated to each force is based on a complex formula which in essence tries to predict the level of crime in each force, based on criteria including the number of single parent households, the number of long-term unemployment benefit claimants, the number of bars per 100 hectares, the amount of student housing and the number of residents in terraced accommodation.49 The performance of a police force is not taken into account. The value of grants arising from this formula is then changed, multiplied by various scaling factors. An additional grant for various designated purposes is then added. Finally, in the case of the Metropolitan Police, a further arbitrary amount is added “in recognition of the Metropolitan Police’s distinct national and capital city functions”. For 2009-10 that amount is £202.5 million.50 H ouse of Commons Public Bill Committee (2009), th Sitting, 29 January. 5 N ational Policing Improvement Agency (2009), 6 I bid. 7 H eath, N. (2009), “Police database will make ‘a very big difference’”,, 9 February. 8 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G 9 ome Office (2009), The Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2009/10. H 50 I bid.
  17. 17. A new force The myths of policing The “bribery culture” In interviews Reform has also heard evidence of a “bribery culture”, with government effectively withholding a particular piece of funding unless the force in question agrees to implement a given initiative. One example of this was the recent rollout of the national Airwave radio system, where forces that needed to replace their ageing systems were offered money by the Home Office to do so – but only if they opted for the Government’s preferred system. The Home Office does not publish specific figures on these financial incentives, but one Police Authority member suggested to Reform that up to 60 per cent of police spending – £9 billion nationwide – is targeted Home Office grants. Local funding It is clear that the central funding allocated to police is obscure, unaccountable and bears little resemblance to the effectiveness or efficiency of the force, or even historical crime levels. So what about local police funding? Police forces are part-funded through council tax, but: “While police authorities have the ability to raise additional funding locally through the council tax precept, this has been constrained by the 5 per cent cap on council tax increases.”51 There is widespread variation across the country, so while Surrey raises 46 per cent of its funds (the greatest portion) from council tax, Northumbria raises only 12 per cent of its funds locally.52 Although Police Authorities have some flexibility in spending their budgets, an increasing proportion remains ring-fenced for areas including neighbourhood policing and counter-terrorism.53 The plethora of government targets substantially limits police forces’ ability to spend money where it would have the most impact. The absence of a local funding model makes it impossible for police expenditure to be accountable to the local people who pay for it. The inevitable consequence of this is a “black hole” policing system, swallowing all the cash it is allocated with little incentive to improve results. Conclusion There is centralisation, but in the wrong areas – government has focused on operations instead of administration. Targets inhibit local initiatives and priorities. The Metropolitan Police is already the de facto national lead force. 5 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G 52 urrey Police Authority (2007), Policing Surrey: Your council tax for policing services in 2007-08; Northumbria Police Authority (2008), S Budget Plan 2008-09. 5 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G
  18. 18. A new force The myths of policing Myth : The intelligence myth The 43-force structure is intended to cope with crimes that cross force boundaries by sharing information and intelligence. Roads policing, fraud and major incidents should see forces working together, sharing resources and cooperating in the planning and implementation of strategy. There are some good examples in the service of collaboration and joint arrangements. Reality: fiefdoms resist action Denuded of a real connection with the electorate and stymied by edicts from the Home Office, police chiefs have sought to exert influence over the aspects of policing that are under their control. The reduction in the number of police forces from 123 in 1964 to 43 today has, by definition, concentrated more power in the hands of fewer people.54 The role was also strengthened through the 1994 Police and Magistrates Court Act and the 1996 Police Act. Through these Acts the size of police authorities governing local police forces was reduced from 35 members to 17.55 The Acts also abolished elections to Police Authorities and gave Chief Constables control over police budgets.56 Poor inter-force intelligence The Bichard Inquiry gave a damning verdict on the state of inter-force intelligence sharing. It declared that “the importance everyone concerned professes to give intelligence was not borne out in reality”.57 There was a devastating failure of the forces involved to share information: “[Ian Huntley, the offender] had come to the attention of Humberside Police in relation to allegations of eight sexual offences from 1995 to 1999 (and had been investigated in yet another). This information had not emerged during the vetting check, carried out by Cambridgeshire constabulary at the time of Huntley’s appointment to Soham Village College late in 2001.”58 Moreover, the IT systems which should have facilitated information-sharing were quite literally non-existent.59 The Inquiry called for the urgent implementation of a new system to enable forces to identify intelligence that is held on an individual by another police force. This system, the IMPACT Nominal Index (INI) is now in operation but is still missing tens of millions of records.60 The new Police National Database, which should “replace the INI, as well as facilitate key links with other national information systems”, is yet to be implemented.61 And, as we have seen, adoption of this database is not even compulsory. Lack of agreement The practical consideration of achieving agreement between 43 Chief Constables is problematic. In interviews with Reform there has been widespread agreement that it is impossible to engage with a “seminar” of 43 Chief Constables; indeed there is some thinking that at least part of the motivation behind Charles Clarke’s “superforces” plan was the appeal of dealing with fewer Chief Constables. However there are some good examples of collaboration in the service. Kent and Essex, for example, have arrangements in a wide variety of areas. The forces have a joint procurement department and collaborate on marine services, specialist vehicles, a helicopter and numerous back office functions.62 There are also examples of cost-sharing between emergency services. Gloucestershire has one control room shared by the police, fire and ambulance services. In addition to saving money, this tri-service arrangement facilitated an extremely high level of cooperation during the 2007 floods. But while some inter-force collaboration is happening – largely spurred on by the threat of police force mergers – it is not enough, and it is not happening fast enough. 5 ount, F. (2005), “The police are listening at last. But they won’t like what we say”, The Daily Telegraph, 7 November. M 55 oveday, B. (2006), Size Isn’t Everything, Policy Exchange. L 56 I bid. 57 ichard, M. (200), The Bichard Inquiry Report. B 58 I bid. 59 I bid: “Although national Information Technology (IT) systems for recording intelligence were part of the original National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) as long ago as 99, no such system exists even now. It was, in fact, formally abandoned in 2000 [and] there are still no firm plans for a national IT system in England and Wales.” 60 N ational Policing Improvement Agency (2008): “As of January 2008, a total of 6 million records were held on the system and it is estimated that, by 200, a total of 0 million records will be accessible.” ( 6 N ational Policing Improvement Agency (2008) ( 62 ent and Essex Police Authorities (2009), Programme Manager’s Report to the Joint Statutory Committee, 0 January. K
  19. 19. A new force The myths of policing Un-joined up Despite some good examples of inter-force collaboration, there are far more cases of things gone awry. Although the Home Office strongly encourages forces to work together, it does not compel them to do so; as such there are occasions when rivalries and “turf wars” have taken priority over policing. The refusal of forces in the M4 corridor to properly collaborate on organised crime forced the Metropolitan Police to spearhead a regional task force to take on the issue. Then there are the purely logistical issues involved in having 43 forces trying to work together. Reform’s interviews have produced tales of incompatibilities in equipment and methods that are at best inconvenient and at worst life-threatening. Until the recent rollout of the Airwave radio, incompatibilities in forces’ radio systems meant that police cars involved in high-speed chases would lose contact with their base when they crossed regional borders. Incompatibilities between IT systems create huge additional workloads. If a lack of empty cells requires a suspect to be taken to another custody suite after being arrested, all of the suspect’s details must be re-entered manually. Even differences in training can have a major impact in the field. Officers from two forces team up to storm a building. But in one force they have been trained to go through the door and head left; in another force, they are told to run to the right. The result is, quite literally, officers falling over one another. What is clear is that effective communication, collaboration and action is delayed and prevented by a cumbersome structure that inhibits forces from working together. Conclusion There are serious flaws in collaboration, communication and compatibility (especially of IT systems). Chief Constables have repeatedly acted as a block to reform.
  20. 20. A new force The myths of policing Myth : The scale myth The history of the police has shown repeated thought that bigger is better. There have been numerous attempts to merge forces; the 1964 force amalgamations and Charles Clarke’s “superforces” plans are two prominent examples of this thinking. Successive reorganisations have promised more efficiency with centralisation.63 Although each force contains one or more Basic Command Units (BCUs) which provide the on-the-ground police operations, strategy and finance is largely decided at force level.64 Reality: Regional forces result in waste and unaccountable spending The current structure introduces inefficiencies into the system by forcibly centralising expenditure which is best done at BCU level. And it creates waste by duplicating expenditure which would best take place at a national level. Far from creating efficiency gains, the result of force mergers and rolling centralisation has spiralling costs and productivity decline. Expenditure on policing has increased by over £4.5 billion in real terms since 1997 – a real increase of 43 per cent.65 Britain’s police are the most expensive in the world. As a proportion of GDP, spending on policing in England and Wales is higher than every OECD country for which figures are available (except Scotland). For comparison, expenditure in England and Wales on the police was 0.9 per cent of GDP in the latest year available (2005) – 20 per cent higher than the US figure of 0.75 per cent of GDP (2006).66 False economies The artificial force boundaries encourage arbitrary centralisation of services such as call centres, which at face value appear to offer cost benefits and efficiency savings, but in fact have dramatic unintended consequences. Centralised call centres waste time and money, as operatives in regional control centres lack the knowledge of the area that officers at the local police station would have. Their response is delayed as the operative attempts to identify the location of the crime. In the best case, this would cause frustration on the part of the citizen attempting to interact with the police; in the worst case, lives could be put at risk. Small is beautiful Independent research shows that the myth that larger policing units are more efficient than smaller ones is simply not true. There is “a genuine scale effect in policing”, with different-sized BCUs – ranging from under 100 officers to over 1,000 – showing “a very clear negative relationship between scale efficiency and size”.67 In other words, smaller policing units solve more crimes per officer than larger ones. The cost of merging Merging forces to create economies of scale is not straightforward either. As we have seen there are myriad incompatibilities between different forces’ systems and equipment. These problems could make the cost of merging forces prohibitive. Indeed, in 1996 the Government looked at merging police forces but abandoned the plan due to the huge costs involved in homogenising systems and equipment.68 Another problem is the funding implications that arise from a lack of coterminosity with local government boundaries. Different levels of council tax can cause friction as residents of one local authority can feel they are “subsidising” policing provision elsewhere in the force. 6 enkins, S. (2005), “It’s not a Blair police state we need fear, it’s his state police”, The Sunday Times, November: “The 99 reforms J centralised police policy and finance but left forces in place.” 6 udit Commission (200), Best Foot Forward: Headquarters’ Support for Police Basic Command Units. A 65 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G 66 Reform research; US Department of Justice (2009), Bureau of Justice Statistics. 67 D rake, L. and Simper, R. (2005), “Police Efficiency in Offences Cleared: An Analysis of English ‘Basic Command Units’”, International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 25 pp. 86-208; introduction.html. 68 P olice Act 996. The Act provided the powers for the Home Secretary to merge forces.
  21. 21. A new force The myths of policing Duplicated efforts Services which could sensibly be organised at a national level are not, so each of the 43 forces must independently develop and run their own. For example, there is no single national IT system that forces can use. The 43 forces pay 43 times to develop 43 different IT systems. Not only is this clearly a waste of money but, as the Soham case indicates, the incompatibilities of the systems can have tragic consequences. The same is true of other key administrative systems such as HR and payroll. As shown earlier, incompatibilities in forces’ equipment, from radios to riot shields, cause practical problems – but they also waste cash. Bulk-buying would bring down the cost of the items in question. But the current arrangements prevent this even in areas where forces do want to cooperate. There are savings to be made in areas where buying services on a larger scale makes sense. Kent Police Authority has told Reform that their collaboration with Essex has generated savings of £2.8 million since 2007.69 Inter- force collaboration can also provide services which would otherwise be out of forces’ reach; Gloucestershire and Avon Somerset share a helicopter which neither force would be able to afford on its own. It is clear that there is huge potential for savings to be made. But different things are better done at different levels. The current structure creates endemic waste by failing to provide centralised services where they are appropriate, and refusing to hand power to BCU Commanders where decisions are best made locally. Conclusion The 43-force structure creates a substantial amount of waste, both through inefficiencies created by centralising expenditure that would best be done locally, and by duplicating expenditure which would best take place at a national level. 69 ent and Essex Police Authorities (2009), Programme Manager’s Report to the Joint Statutory Committee, 0 January. K 0
  22. 22. A new force The myths of policing Myth : The serious crime myth When it launched in 2006 the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was hailed as Britain’s FBI.70 It was to “borrow intelligence-gathering techniques from MI5 and MI6 [and] poach methods from the world of counter-terrorism”.71 According to its website: “SOCA is an intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers and harm reduction responsibilities. Harm in this context is the damage caused to people and communities by serious organised crime.”72 While the police deal with local and more minor crime, SOCA takes responsibility at a national level for serious and organised crime such as drug trafficking, people trafficking, money laundering and fraud.73 Reality: Serious crime remains a problem Serious and organised crime presents a significant threat to the UK. The social and economic cost of serious organised crime, including the costs of combating it, is estimated to be £20 billion.74 Drugs trafficking, people smuggling and gun crime are the principal elements of this serious crime, which is referred to as Level 2 (regional) and Level 3 (national and international).75 Level 2 also includes other issues such as homicide, riot control and contingencies such as flooding, major disease outbreaks and strategic road policing.76 In 1998 the Home Office estimated that up to 1,420 women were trafficked into the UK. Just five years later this estimate had risen to 4,000.77 The End Violence against Women Campaign has said the number is now closer to 10,000.78 The price of cocaine has fallen by half in the last decade, and the International Narcotics Control Board has warned that prices will continue to fall unless supply is curtailed.79 Heroin seized by the authorities in 2003-04 amounted to just 12 per cent of the overall market in Britain.80 The most recent SOCA Threat Assessment found that criminal gangs were succeeding in bringing in larger quantities of firearms than had previously been assessed. This has fuelled street gun crime in three force areas: London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.81 Internet crime is a growing phenomenon, which does not respect police force or even national boundaries. One review estimated that there were around 35,000 identity thefts online in 2006, with an increase expected in future years. There were estimated to be 207,000 cases of online financial fraud in 2006, up 35 per cent on the previous year. The review concluded: “It is clear that cybercrime is a pressing and prevalent social problem.”82 70 ’Neill, S. (2008), “Soca abandons hunt for crime lords”, The Times, May. O 7 ’Neill, S. (2008), “Is Soca just too soft?”, The Times, May. O 72 S erious Organised Crime Agency (2006), 7 I bid. The SOCA website lists the organisation’s focuses as drug trafficking, organised immigration crime, individual and private sector fraud, money laundering and chemical suspicious activity reporting. 7 erious Organised Crime Agency (2008), The United Kingdom Threat Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime. S 75 bid; HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (2005), Closing the Gap. Level 2 services are grouped under seven headings: counter terrorism I and extremism; serious organised and cross border crime; civil contingencies and emergency planning; critical incident management; major crime (homicide); public order; and strategic roads policing. The National Intelligence Model (NIM) describes criminality as follows: Level – local criminality that can be managed within a Basic Command Unit (BCU), Level 2 – cross border issues, usually of organised criminals, major incident affecting more than one BCU, Level – Serious crime, terrorism operating at a national or international level. 76 M Inspectorate of Constabulary (2005), Closing the Gap. H 77 ouse of Commons (2006), Joint Committee on Human Rights: Twenty-Sixth Report. H 78 aves (2008), Eaves information sheet – sex trafficking, December. E 79 I nternational Narcotics Control Board (2008), Report; BBC News Online (2009), “Cocaine price ‘set to fall more’”, 9 February. 80 euter, P. and Stevens, A. (2007), An Analysis of UK Drug Policy, UK Drug Policy Commission. R 8 erious Organised Crime Agency (2008), The United Kingdom Threat Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime. S 82 afinski, S. (2006), UK Cybercrime report, Garlik. F
  23. 23. A new force The myths of policing The serious crime gap These threats are the responsibility of SOCA (high-level serious and organised crime) and the Metropolitan Police (serious and organised crime and counter-terrorism).83 However, there is a vacuum between the local crime dealt with by regional police forces and the organised crime dealt with by SOCA. Jan Berry, former Chair of the Police Federation, said: “There’s a whole raft of crime that’s now not even being looked at. It is not local enough to be treated by the local police force and not serious enough to be dealt with by SOCA. To a certain extent, the criminals are benefitting from the lines drawn on maps.”84 A relentless national focus on organised crime has removed local forces’ incentives to tackle it – but without putting anything in their place. Poor information sharing and cooperation leads to a failure to deal with serious and organised crime that crosses BCU or force boundaries. The “gap” exists at this level because, as shown earlier, although it is popularly thought that there is seamless integration across police forces, this is simply not the case. The result is that, while minor, local crime and major, international crime are dealt with effectively, Level 2 serious crime is not. The 2005 report Closing the Gap by Denis O’Connor, then HM Inspector of Constabulary, acknowledged that the current structure of the police service creates this problem: “Whilst Basic Command Unit (BCU) arrangements and neighbourhood policing provides a solid local platform for the future, the current 30 year old, 43 force structure of widely different sizes, and capabilities does not … There will be a requirement for a more efficient, integrated operating platform above BCU level.”85 The report concedes that the supposed collaboration between forces is inadequate and ineffective: “The modest scale of collaboration to date, and the significant problems associated with it, such as governance and performance and accountability suggests that, at best, progress will be complex, slow and of limited impact.”86 It argues that there must be a structural change in order to close the Level 2 policing gap: “Put simply, when viewed from the context of the range of challenges and future threats now facing the service and the communities it polices, the 43 force structure is no longer fit for purpose.”87 SOCA – a white elephant The writing is already on the wall for SOCA, which has been described as “cautious and bureaucratic, overburdened with managers and inexperienced at the sharp end”.88 In interviews Reform has often heard SOCA described as “ineffective” and interested in “sexy” work over the nuts and bolts of organised crime. It lacks operationally-experienced staff; 148 former police officers – many of whom were cherry-picked to join the unit – retired or returned to policing within two years of moving to SOCA, complaining of a lack of enforcement activity.89 The Agency has effectively been “downgraded”, with its budget slashed by the Home Office two years after it opened for business.90 One SOCA officer explained the problems: “Since SOCA started, I haven’t taken on any new investigations and haven’t been asked to develop any intelligence to move into an investigation. I am just purely performing email, admin tasks … It is bureaucratic. Its management is top-centred … I and my team are under-utilised in comparison to what we were doing before. In my section of the organisation, morale is probably the lowest I have ever known it.”91 8 T he City of London Police is the lead force on fraud. 8 he Times (2007), “Soca performance slammed”, 2 January. T 85 M Inspectorate of Constabulary (2005), Closing the Gap. H 86 I bid. 87 I bid. 88 ’Neill, S. (2008), “Is Soca just too soft?”, The Times, May. O 89 ’Neill, S. (2008), “Soca abandons hunt for crime lords”, The Times, May. O 90 I bid. 9 he Times (2007), “Soca performance slammed”, 2 January. T
  24. 24. A new force The myths of policing The missing Metropolitan Police mandate As shown earlier, the Metropolitan Police already has responsibility for dealing with serious crime, counter- terrorism and e-crime. The problem is that it does not have the formal control or resources to effectively coordinate serious crime policing. Sir Paul Stephenson may be the de facto “national” Chief Constable, but he is not in charge of everything he needs to be in charge of; he lacks a clearly defined mandate. The Metropolitan Police is good at fighting serious and organised crime, and has the resources to do so. The average number of criminal networks it disrupted rose from 3.4 per month in 2004/05 to 27.1 per month in 2007/08.92 However outside London there is a gap – where the Metropolitan Police does not have full control over serious crime fighting, but other forces do not have the resources and expertise to take on the mantle themselves. Going round in circles Government’s focus on total crime numbers played a major role in destroying Level 2 policing. With three key areas to focus on – response policing, neighbourhood policing and protective services (i.e. serious crime) – Chief Constables found that they got no credit for work in the latter area. Accordingly it ceased to be a priority. Resources were moved to a national level as Regional Crime Squads were replaced by the National Crime Squad. As serious crime was no longer individual forces’ responsibility, the gap was allowed to open.93 Now the HMIC series of “Level 2 Gap” reports has focused attention on the problem. As a result Regional Intelligence Units have been established, at a substantial cost; Reform has been told that Gloucestershire had to raise council tax by 52 per cent to fund the rebuilding of its protective services. Continued confusion about serious crime fighting has created this gap in an essential area of policing provision, wasting vast sums of money along the way. The lack of effective national coordination of serious crime provision – and of a single point of leadership – will perpetuate this fudge. Conclusion SOCA has been downgraded. Serious crime fighting is not effectively coordinated. There continues to be a problem with serious crime, especially outside the London area. 92 etropolitan Police Service (2005), Annual Report 2004/05; Metropolitan Police Service (2008), Annual Report 2007/08. M 9 B BC News Online (998), “National squad targets top criminals”, March: “The [National Crime Squad] is taking over from the old regional crime squads”.
  25. 25. A new force The principles of reform Policing in Britain has been insulated from change by a collection of powerful myths, equally powerful entrenched interests and a failure of political will. The cost of failure to address this issue head on is high. It has created a complex web of arrangements with little or no transparency and accountability. It is expensive. It has failed to deal with the rising threat of organised and supra-regional crime. There are serious problems with accountability and efficiency in modern policing. Accountability Striking the correct balance between efficiency and accountability is central to public service reform. Unlike other services such as health and education, which are consumed by individual patients or pupils, policing is a public good and not subject to choice as a method of providing accountability. Consumer power can therefore only be exercised through a popular election. Local accountability Political debate about crime in England and Wales has been restricted to point-scoring and blame games. The lack of accountability, and the need for politicians to be seen to be “doing something about crime” has created a culture of short-termism and knee-jerk reaction. It has resulted in the trading of meaningless statistics, accusations of interference and seemingly limitless centrally-directed initiatives. One Chief Constable told Reform that he is accountable to “at least a dozen” authorities, with three – HMIC, the Police Authority and the Audit Commission – responsible for inspecting and auditing his force. But accountability to many bodies actually means no accountability at all. These problems are shared by few other developed countries. Almost all developed countries have a federal- style policing structure, with local and national police having distinct and separate powers. America has the FBI and thousands of local police departments. Germany has a federal police force (BPOL) and 16 state police forces, with a national office (BKA) to liaise between the two. Italy, which does not currently have a federalised structure, is trying to move to one.94 A federalised local government structure allows for direct local accountability over policing. In the US, for example, elected Mayors are able to appoint Police Chiefs and direct overall crime strategy.95 Election campaigns are frequently fought on the issue of crime. Most famously Rudolph Giuliani fought his campaign to become Mayor of New York City on a promise to focus the police department on shutting down petty crimes and nuisances to restore quality of life. This “Broken Windows” approach was hugely popular and the Mayor’s electoral mandate allowed him to instruct the NewYork Police Department to follow this course.96 Giving local officers real autonomy and the power to make their own professional decisions, rather than relying on Whitehall edicts, would start to rebuild the relationship between the police and local people.The popularity in Japan of Kobans – local “police boxes” where a few officers are stationed – shows the importance of allowing local officers to build relationships with the community and use their own judgement.97 9 O rganisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (2008), Policing OnLine Information System. 95 oveday, B. and Reid, A. (200), Going local: Who should run Britain’s police?, Policy Exchange. L 96 I bid. 97 iangrande, R. et al. (2008), The lawful society, Reform. G
  26. 26. A new force Transparency The police service in England and Wales suffers from opacity of information. Accounts are not published. Command structures are not documented. Statistics are nearly impossible to come by. Attempts by Reform to secure detailed budgets or breakdowns of expenditure from Police Authorities have revealed that this information is not published. Different areas of expenditure are devolved to different levels. Some BCUs have local responsibility for road policing, for example, whilst elsewhere it is handled regionally at force level. No BCU has full control over its staff pay, which makes up around 80 per cent of the total police budget; indeed in the current system devolving pay to BCUs makes no sense since police numbers are centrally controlled. Greater transparency of information about the police would make a substantial contribution to increasing accountability. Without information on how decisions are taken and how funding is allocated it is difficult for anybody to hold the police to account. Even politicians are hampered by a lack of readily available information. In other countries, transparency helps to deliver accountability. An excellent demonstration of this is the US National Institute of Justice, which was created to conduct studies based on information made available by the Department of Justice. Many of its studies subjected long-held assumptions in policing to careful testing and found them unsupported by the data. Those findings led to changes in policing strategies.98 One illustration of the National Institute of Justice’s impact is a study into police response time which found that this criterion was unrelated to the probability of making an arrest or locating a witness, and rather the length of time it takes a citizen to report a crime to the police was the deciding factor. This paved the way for a more efficient deployment of police resources. Another was a study into the benefits of making or not making an arrest in domestic violence cases. The study found that “arrest worked best” and led to a change in policy in 90 per cent of police forces and over half of the 50 states.99 The introduction under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of the “Compstat” information system in the New York Police Department shows the effect that readily-available information can have. This system allows officers to engage in weekly, monthly and annual crime analysis, broken down by precinct and crime type. This information is used in weekly meetings with senior and lower-ranking officers, the Mayor, the district attorney and other relevant officials, and facilitates detailed planning of operational strategies.100 It also allows the Mayor to hold the Police Chief to account over delivery of his strategic priorities. Efficiency and effectiveness Policing involves national and local functions and many agencies. Successful reform will combine local accountability for performance on most crime with opportunities for cooperation and cost control. Serious crime is a national responsibility Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between the size of a force and the quality of its serious crime provision. Smaller forces do not have the manpower, resources or expertise to provide top-quality services in each of the seven serious crime areas.101 The Bichard Inquiry simply said: “It is clear that a national intelligence capability is needed.”102 The Home Secretary concedes the importance of achieving the right balance between local and national policing, writing in her Strategic Policing Priorities for 2009-10 that “there is little benefit in increasing public confidence through local policing and ignoring protective services”.103 With a strong national lead on serious crime, BCUs would be able to focus on local policing priorities and the wishes of local people. They would be able to direct resources and staff to matters of direct concern to the local population, and would have increased flexibility to home in on issues of particular local concern. 98 cDonald, W. and Paromchick, S. (996), Transparency and the Police: External research, policing and democracy. M 99 I bid. 00 oveday, B. and Reid, A. (200), Going local: Who should run Britain’s police?, Policy Exchange. L 0 M Inspectorate of Constabulary (2005), Closing the Gap: “Size matters: larger forces are likely to have much greater capability and H resilience, whilst smaller forces in many cases find it hard to provide these services to standard.” The report cites the example of the inadequacy of Murder Investigation Teams in smaller forces: “Where Hybrid Teams exist, and staff are precepted from BCUs and other Departments there are often issues regarding the skills and experience of those staff provided. This can affect the quality of the investigation and increases the organisational risk of failure. Where there is no provision in a force for a MIT, staff have to be extracted from day-to-day policing activity.” 02 ichard, M. (200), The Bichard Inquiry Report. B 0 ome Office (2008), Home Secretary’s Strategic Policing Priorities 2009-10. H
  27. 27. A new force The principles of reform Interoperability matters A failure to procure equipment and adopt practices that are interoperable leads to wasted money and time, and as we have seen can have a major (negative) impact on inter-force operations. This is changing with recent success on radio equipment, and the adoption by many forces of compatible items such as riot shields. But the NPIA is an indirect and inefficient way of doing this. As we have seen, it has no directive power and so the Government spends considerable resources cajoling forces into action. Responsibility for coordination and interoperability should be incorporated within the policing structure. There should be a national lead with directive powers –responsibility held by police, not government. Economies of scale As we have seen, there are numerous examples of inter-force collaboration and joint procurement lowering costs. Better use of premises and specialist and technical resources have been identified as areas for potential savings. Staffing, particularly in administrative areas such as IT, communications, HR and support, could also yield cost savings, as could unified IT services.104 HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has calculated that potential savings from merging existing forces could amount to up to £2.25 billion over ten years, so it seems reasonable to assume that at least this level of savings could be achieved.105 A greater pressure for value for money will lead to cost reductions of this kind. That pressure will come from greater local accountability. Lessons from reform History is littered with failed police reform attempting to either increase efficiency or accountability. In 1828 Robert Peel advocated a single national force but was resisted by MPs with strong local interests. He was allowed control of the Metropolitan Police only; oversight of policing in the rest of the country was left to the local watch committees.106 Subsequent Home Secretaries have made other radical attempts at reform. But in many cases it is senior officers who have frustrated their progress. A new deal with Chief Constables Any realistic police reform must attract the support of Chief Constables. Their powerful position and lack of accountability is one of the key defects of the current structure; equally, it gives them what amounts to a veto on reform. Sir Patrick Sheehy’s proposal to streamline management structures, introduce performance indicators and reform conditions of service was successfully resisted by the police. A mass public campaign was organised that culminated in a rally of 21,000 officers in Wembley Stadium. Michael Howard, the then Home Secretary, was forced to reject most of Sheehy’s more far reaching proposals.107 Henry Brooke’s 1964 Police Act passed without incident because the police hierarchy had succeeded in striking down controversial measures, such as the creation of a national force, in their evidence to the Royal Commission that preceded the Act. The Royal Commission noted that testimony “from persons and organisations closely associated with the present system” had been particularly compelling in rejecting the idea of a national force.108 What remained was a coup for the Chief Constables. It created new, larger forces that would be overseen by local authorities that were weaker and less democratic than the watch committees.109 The new deal for Chief Constables is a quid pro quo – greater independence from Home Office direction in return for greater local accountability. 0 M Inspectorate of Constabulary (2005), Closing the Gap. H 05 I bid. 06 enkins, S. (2006), Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts. J 07 L eishman, F. (995), “Reforming the police in Britain: New public management, policy networks and a tough ‘old bill’”, International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 8, No. . 08 oyal Commission on the Police (962), Final Report. R 09 illiams, C. (200), Britain’s Police Forces: Forever Removed from Democratic Control? W
  28. 28. A new force The principles of reform Work with the grain of police culture The police are a proud and loyal tribe. Attempts to instil new organisations that do not fit within the police “family” ends in difficulty. Attempts by Tony Blair and his Home Secretaries to shake things up with the introduction of SOCA failed to gain traction in a powerful culture. Mergers fail – as does “collaboration” in the absence of other reform Charles Clarke’s proposed “superforce” model failed for two reasons: it angered those opposed to regional integration, and it would have incurred significant cost. The then Home Secretary proposed the merging of the 43 forces into 12 “superforces” to generate economies of scale and centres of expertise.110 This was a hugely unpopular proposal and Police Authorities refused to cooperate.111 The plan was substantially flawed. At the most basic level, it advocated replacing 43 forces delimited by arbitrary boundaries with 12 forces, delimited by equally arbitrary boundaries. This arguably would result in some efficiencies, as described earlier, but does not solve the fundamental problem of force cooperation and would result in even less local connection and accountability than the current system offers. Opposition from the Treasury scotched the plan where local support had been secured. Merger talks between the Lancashire and Cumbria forces, the only two forces to volunteer for the proposed mergers, failed when it became clear that the Treasury would not provide the necessary finance. Funding would have to be secured by raising council tax. This led ACPO, the major police body in favour of mergers, to conclude that mergers would not take place.112 The problem with the “superforce” model is that it was a fudge and not a proper solution. It does not solve the long-term structural problems, although it may hide them for a while. It was a plan designed to try and improve the situation to some extent without treading on too many toes (although it notably failed to achieve this objective). Further, it seems likely that the idea was at least to some extent politically motivated: a Home Secretary can deal with 12 Chief Constables much more easily than with 43. After abandoning the “superforces” plan the Home Office pursued a policy of “encouraging” collaboration between the 43 regional forces.113 This has certainly yielded some positive results. But it is not a comprehensive solution because it does not solve the problem of accountability, nor does it ensure that all 43 forces are capable of providing a full suite of high quality services efficiently and at the lowest possible cost. 0 he Times (2005), “Snub for Clarke over police merge plans”, 2 December. T I bid. 2 T he Guardian (2006), “Clarke rounds on ‘weak’ Reid for delaying police mergers”, 2 July. p (2007), “Seismic change brings new fight to fore”, 5 November: Tony McNulty, then Minister for Security, Counter- terrorism and Policing, was quoted as saying: “To be perfectly honest, it probably took the police family six months to get over the whole debate about mergers … Since that time there has been a real focus across the country on collaboration.”
  29. 29. A new force A new force The police service has advantages to which other public services in England and Wales can only aspire. These include a sense of purpose and mission – a genuine esprit de corps. They also include the operational lead that is provided by the police and the strong expertise in the Metropolitan Police on serious crime. Constructive change is needed Equally the evidence leaves little doubt: that a change to existing accountability arrangements is required. Police forces are not accountable for performance for either serious or local crime. Like many unaccountable organisations, they are expensive and lacking public confidence. The Home Office’s role is uncomfortable – it claims some direction over forces, but cannot be an actual manager. Meanwhile serious and organised crime is not a political priority. It is in everyone’s interests that the current fudges within the system are addressed. One mistake of police reform has been to discuss separately reforms to local accountability and serious crime provision. In fact both need to taken together. If local forces take on responsibility for local crime, the Metropolitan Police can give serious crime the attention that it deserves. Another mistake has been to propose “one size fits all” solutions, which will inevitably fail given the diversity of England and Wales’ local characters and governance arrangements. In fact both local and national accountability needs to go with the grain of existing arrangements. The key outcomes of reform must be to clarify responsibilities for national and local policing, and to change the role of the Home Office. In particular: Local police forces should be responsible for local policing, and for sharing information on serious crime. The Metropolitan Police should be responsible for leading the response to serious and organised crime across England and Wales. It should use a variety of methods of joint working with other forces. Local commissioners based in local authorities should commission policing from local forces, holding individual Chief Constables to account. Scrutiny would be provided by remodelled Police Authorities. The Home Office should commission policing of serious and organised crime from the Metropolitan Police. The police is a highly respected public service and it is important to avoid the pitfalls that have occurred in health and education of demotivating professionals and confusing consumers within the service. A botched reform would have the potential both to fail and to lower morale further. The history of the police is littered with ideas conceived outside the system that failed to embed with the existing culture, SOCA being the most recent example. An approach that works with the grain of the current operations of the police is advisable. As we have seen historically, reform happens in fits and starts. It is important to note that the changes proposed in this report evolve from existing arrangements and can be implemented independently from one another.