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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

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

Building a police profession

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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.
This is the fifth in a series of posts on the seminal Policing for a Better Britain report.

Call the Professionals

Much of the Stevens Report (as Policing for a Better Britain is commonly known) is focused on ensuring that the quality of policing is more consistently high, while at the same time improving public confidence in the police.

The report seeks to address both these aims by recommending that the police are professionalised. This would ensure, so the report argues, a high calibre of officer, appropriately rewarded and fully accountable to the public.

The report believes that the College of Policing:

“has a vital leadership role to play in developing the police into an evidence-based profession.”

Chartered Police Officers

The Stevens Report envisages a new professional police service which would share many of the characteristics of other recognised professions such as medics, lawyers or accountants and makes a number of specific recommendations:

  • Chartered police officers should be the basis of a new police profession. All existing police officers will be registered but must demonstrate that they are properly accredited within five years.
  • The College of Policing would hold a publicly available register of all chartered police officers.
  • There will be a presumption of total transparency – with open, public hearings for decisions on serious misconduct.
  • Police officers found guilty of serious misconduct will be struck off the register.
  • There will be a new code of ethics to set standards of professional behaviour.

The report makes specific recommendations about the relationship between the media and the police, which it says are in urgent need of improvement. It recommends:

  • New media guidelines which rebuild trust and confidence and encourage, not restrict, two-way openness and contact; and
  • Streamlined and minimal requirements to record but not restrict contact with journalists

Is this professionalised approach the right way to modernise our police service?

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.

What do you think?

Do you think a professionalised police service would be a step forward or would it place a barrier between officers and the communities they serve?

Please share your views via the comments section below.

 

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