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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

A new deal for the police

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The report acknowledges the Winsor review, supports some aspects of it and rejects others. It criticises the way that Winsor has been handled and says their needs to be much more engagement and discussion with police officers themselves. It's attitude to Winsor is summarised as...
This is the fourth in a series of posts on the seminal Policing for a Better Britain report.

What’s sauce for the goose…

One of the attractions of the Stevens Report (the media shorthand for Policing for a Better Britain) is the way that its analysis and recommendation are rooted in a clear set of principles. In its consideration of “A new deal for police officers and staff”, the report argues that there is a clear correlation between how officers are treated within their forces and the way they interact with the public.

It highlights the issue of bullying based on a number of surveys of police staff specially undertaken for the report, in addition to other recent surveys. It found that 20% of police officers and 22% of PCSOs reported being bulled all or some of the time. Interestingly, the report found that the proportion of officers in a force who reported bullying had a correlation with the number of police complaints per head of population.

The report sets forward three strands of reform and emphasises that these are interlinked:

  1. A commitment to standards of policing, partnership and governance (the subjects of the last three posts in this series)
  2. Developing a fair system to promote the welfare and well-being of staff
  3. Developing a professional model of policing based on ethics and research evidence.

Winsor

The report acknowledges the Winsor review, supports some aspects of it and rejects others. It criticises the way that Winsor has been handled and says their needs to be much more engagement and discussion with police officers themselves. It’s attitude to Winsor is summarised as:

“A necessary change, but a damaging process.”

The report’s proposed New Deal is made up of six practical proposals:

  1. The status of policing should be enhanced to a profession and there should be a consequent raising of qualification standards for new entrants (in line with Winsor report).
  2. The new starting salary proposed for police constables by Winsor should be rejected in favour of a level “commensurate with qualifications and experiences of new recruits” – i.e. higher than £19k.
  3. An independent review of the effects of Winsor should be set up within two years of implementation.
  4. Police officers and staff must be treated as a vital resource in the development and delivery of better policing – not simply as the objects of reform.
  5. The police should urgently address the ongoing poor representation of women and ethnic minorities, using legislation where relevant.
  6. Specialist staff, such as Crime Scene Investigators and Intelligence Analysts, should be out to join the police via “lateral entry”.

What do you think? Are these the basis of a fairer modern police force which improves the lot of both officers and the public they serve?

Please share your views via the comment section below.

 

Related posts you might like:

Can we afford the police service we need?

One of the difficulties in getting a more efficient police force that spends a larger proportion of its funds on policing rather than administration is getting rid of an excessively bureaucratic culture. The Stevens report treads a fine line here as some its remedies, to my mind, seem to imply introducing a number of new systems which will struggle to streamline procurement and cut waste.

Read More »

Do we need a national police service?

The report asks how we reconcile the need for police services to be locally accountable while facing up to the fact that the current structure of 43 separate forces in England and Wales is no longer cost effective, nor equipped to meet the challenges of organised and cross-border crime.
This is a challenge which also faces the modern probation service.

Read More »

Raising police standards and tackling misconduct

This seems to be a particularly bold and radical approach to addressing two separate problems. The Stevens Report makes a very strong recommendation that this new ISPC should be entirely independent of the police service. This seems to me to be absolutely right in terms of the investigation of serious complaints. However, although the inspection function would benefit from a broader perspective, surely the intimate knowledge of police officers is absolutely key to make inspections a helpful and constructive exercise, rather than just a bureaucratic requirement?

Read More »

Building a police profession

This approach clearly brings benefits to police officers in terms of elevating their professional status and celebrating the high standards already embraced by many. The flipside of the coin is that there would be much more openness about the inner workings of the police, particularly in terms of misconduct and press relations.

Read More »

Police Governance – replacing Police and Crime Commissioners

There is a strong emphasis throughout the report on community engagement and neighbourhood policing and there is a specific recommendation to ensure that accountability goes down to the neighbourhood level by establishing “participatory budgeting units” to ensure greater local community involvement in allocating resources.

Read More »

Creating effective Police partnerships

It should be remembered that “Policing for a Better Britain” was commissioned by the Labour Party and it is, therefore, no surprise to see the issue of privatisation tackled head-on. The report is not against privatisation but recommends that outsourcing should only be considered by reference to five key principles:

Read More »
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