The Police Chiefs' Blog
Sir Hugh Orde: A new direction, 26 January 2011
Garry Shewan: Stalking and harassment, 10 February 2011
Graeme Gerrard: CCTV surveillance, 3 March 2011
Chris Sims: Frontline Policing, 11 April 2011
Mark Rowley: Surrey Police, bureaucracy and the frontline, 15 April 2011
Janet Williams: Policing cyberspace, 9 May 2011
Sir Norman Bettison: Prevent Review, 7 June 2011
John Feavyour Police: complaints and improving public service, 23 June 2011
Phil Gormley: Recovery of vehicles - the truth, 28 June 2011
Sara Thornton: Providing the best leaders, 29 July 2011
Sir Hugh Orde: Tension between politicians and police is healthy
Tim Hollis: Reflections on Disorder, 12 September 2011
Olivia Pinkney: Policing the exploitation of labour, 26 September 2011
Tim Hollis: Policing Drugs in Austerity - Adjusting to the challenge,12 October
Simon Byrne - Policing prostitution and sexual exploitation, 2 November 2011
Rob Beckley - 'Big Society' and volunteering, 17 November 2011
Andy Adams - Custody Matters, 28 November 2011
Ian Dyson - The new police 101 non emergency number, 11 January 2012
Simon Cole - Responding to mental ill-health and disability, 17 January 2012
Simon Byrne outlines the benefits of ANPR technology, 7 February 2012
Dave Thompson - Renewed focus upon gangs is welcomed by the police, 8 Feb 2012
David Whatton - Investigating rape, 8 March 2012
Gareth Pritchard - Policing dangerous dogs, 27 March 2012
Peter Fahy - Winsor Part Two, 30 March 2012
Nigel Brook - Police Finance and Resources, 12 April 2012
Simon Cole - Local policing and partnerships, 4 May 2012
A word from Sir Hugh Orde - 10 May 2012
Nigel Brook - Budget cuts, 22 June 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 26 June 2012
Alex Marshall - PCCs, 10 July 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 20 July 2012
Ian Learmonth - The riots one year on, 7 Aug 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 14 August 2012
Simon Cole - disability hate crime, 10 September 2012
Andy Marsh - changes to firearms licensing, 18 September 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 September 2012
Alex Marshall - Drones, 9 October 2012
Sara Thornton - Authorised Professional Practice, 22 October 2012
Dave Thompson - Police work to tackle gun crime on our streets, 30 October 2012
Simon Cole- Policing and Dementia, 8 November 2012
A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 15 November 2012
David Whatton - Violence against women and girls, 4 December 2012
Martin Hewitt - Adult Sex Offences, 17 December 2012
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 January 2013
A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 22 February 2013
International Women's Day - Women in Policing, 8 March 2013
Garry Shewan - Stalking. Know the law, use the law, 18 April, 2013
Andy Trotter - Secret Justice, 30 April 2013
Adrian Lee - Police commitment to tackling alcohol harm, 15 May 2013
Pat Geenty - Improving the police response to missing people, 24 May 2013
Julian Blazeby - Police use of automatic number plate recognition, 18 June 2013
Simon Chesterman – Police use of Taser and training, 12 July 2013
Andy Marsh - Firearms licence-holders are no cash cows, 1 November 2013
Mick Creedon - Fighting serious organised crime, 18 November 2013
Suzette Davenport - Drink and drug drivers, 2 December 2013
Martin Hewitt - Rape discussion provokes strong feelings, 2 December 2013
Simon Bray - Understanding the impact of new psychoactive substances,17 Jan 2014
The Future of ACPO - A blog by our President, Sir Hugh Orde, 17 Jan 2014
ACPO President on our FOI Disclosure Log publication, 21 February 2014
Autism awareness can improve police practice
Francis Habgood - Building trust in crime recording, 14 April 2014
Gareth Pritchard - Changes to dangerous dogs legislation - 16 May 2014
Police And Communities Working Together To End FGM
Commander Chris Greany- New Head of NPoCC, 23 September 2014
Simon Cole: Police seek more reports of disability hate crime
Commander Chris Greany: My first eight weeks
Pat Geenty: Take care of yourself and your property this Christmas
Shaun Sawyer: Smashing the bonds of modern slavery remains a policing priority
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog
Martin Hewitt: Building on the success of the Not Guilty campaign, 11 May 2015
CC Jane Sawyers: International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), 15 May 2015
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh: We have to think digital, 11 June 2015
Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 8 July 2015
A future for local policing - Blog by Chief Constable Simon Cole QPM, NPCC Lead
Police Chiefs' Blog: Sara Thornton, Chief Constables Council July 2015
Sara Thornton Blog: Investigating burglary will always be a priority - Aug 2015
Sexting, young people and the police: Working towards a common-sense solution
Adrian Leppard: Fraud and Cyber-crime: What's being done? October 15 2015
Steve Kavanagh Blog: Policing the digital age - December 02 2015
Sara Thornton Blog: Police budgets, reform & specialist capabilities - Dec 2015
Sara Thornton Blog: Christmas greeting - Dec 2015
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2016
Police Chiefs Blogs: International Women's Day - 8 March 2016
CC Simon Cole Blog: Prevent - 21 April 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2016
CC Jane Sawyers Blog: International Day Against Homophobia - 17 May 2016
Cmdr Simon Bray Blog: Legal highs? Not as legal as you thought – 26 May 2016
CC Sara Thornton blog - Unity & respect needed, not hate crime. June 2016
Mark Rowley blog: Communities defeat terrorism - 3639 times a day, 1 August 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2016
CC Simon Bailey: We have to intervene earlier to stop child abuse. August 2016
Sara Thornton Blog: It's time for a sharing economy in policing. October 2016
DAC Helen Ball Blog: Reflections on 'Look Outs'. October 2016
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2016
DCC Louisa Rolfe Blog: Coercive control can affect anyone. December 2016
CC Stephen Kavanagh Blog: Our world has gone digital January 2017
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2017
CC Simon Cole Blog: Uniform that's uniform! February 2017
NPCC Questions and Answers on Conducted Energy Devices (aka Taser)
ACC Mark Roberts blog: We all have the same aim - a safe and enjoyable World Cup
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2017
CC Dave Thompson blog: Policing funding - what do we need to tackle the threats
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - We need to talk about wellbeing in policing
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2017
Cmdr Matt Twist: Use of force data is a great step forward for for transparency
Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Police funding: do we have the resources we need?
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Shaun Sawyer on Modern Slavery
Guest Blog: Programme Director Jo Ashworth on Transforming Forensics
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2018
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Nick Ephgrave - changing the culture on disclosure
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Anthony Bangham - Road enforcement must be proportionate
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Disclosure - February 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Officers' Day - March 2018
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Dee Collins - Closing the gender pay gap
Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Constables' Council April 2018
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables Council July 2018
Guest Blog: Afzal Khan MP
Blog: CC Andy Rhodes - Protect the protectors
Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2018
Policing is at the tipping point - and we've got to move on from here
Unnecessary criminalisation of looked-after children
Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables Council January 2019
CC Sara Thornton Blog: The future of policing is in good hands
Simon Cole reflects on his time spent as local policing committee chair
Police Chiefs' Blog: New NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt
Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council April 2019
DCC Julie Cooke explores why she is the NPCC lead for LGBT+
Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council July 2019
Guest Blog: Jane Dodds on Give a Day to Policing
DCC Julie Cooke asks important questions about contemporary LGBT issues
Chief Constable Gavin Stephens explains the role of social media officers
Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council October 2019
Prevent: how we safeguard the vulnerable and how we manage our data
DAC Lucy D'Orsi discusses criminal use of drones
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council January 2020
Data Protection Day
How we can stop female genital mutilations
DCC Julie Cooke discusses the importance of Pride
What have we learnt about dealing with mental health during the pandemic?
Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council January 2021
One year on from the start of the first lockdown

One year on from the start of the first lockdown

Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney reflects on anniversary of first lockdown

CC Pinkney Bio May 2019.jpgYesterday, we held a Local Policing Coordination Committee (LPCC), our first meeting of the year. This coincided with the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown, and a day where we remember all the people within our forces, partnerships and communities who lost their lives to COVID. We offer our condolences to their colleagues, friends and family.

The loss of colleagues affects us all deeply. They will forever be in our thoughts and prayers, and our policing family will support their loved ones for as long as it takes.

Almost a year ago, our LPCC was asked to assess the areas across our work that would be impacted by the pandemic.

Back then, we said the impact would be felt on children and young people. We felt there would be an increase of exposure to abuse and exploitation. An increase in unemployment and households in homelessness would likely lead to greater levels of child neglect and ultimately an increase in COVID-related Adverse Childhood Experiences.

We also said the extended isolation arising from lockdown and challenges in accessing social and professional support networks would have an adverse impact on mental health. This may well be exacerbated by rising unemployment and financial stress. Whilst this is clearly a area for others to lead on, it inevitably leads to police demand to manage risk in crisis.

However, nearly one year on, police across the country are working tirelessly and in partnership with other agencies to identify and support our vulnerable communities.

At the start of this pandemic, we said there were opportunities to explore, to enable a better and more effective service. We saw this through the increase in community activism, particularly with the amount of hours the Special Constabulary committed during the early days of lockdown. We couldn’t have policed without them.

We experienced a shift change in how our communities communicated with us, particularly through the Single Online Home, Digital Desks and the @YourPolice Instagram channel for young people. All of this is helping to shape our future capabilities in reaching out to communities and enabling innovative ways to talk to us.

Two events this year have demonstrated how far we’ve come in Local Policing to connect not only with our various policing portfolios and forces, but more widely with partner agencies. The Public Health Webinar Series in February is helping us to articulate the point that policing cannot stand alone in helping vulnerable people and societies from being impacted by crime. The Response Policing Week of Action has informed us that our approach to wellbeing for our frontline is making a difference. I know many local policing portfolios are planning similar events throughout the year and we look forward to those helping to steer our Local Policing agenda across the country.

So, on this anniversary, I thank you for allowing me to share reflections of the last twelve months and I want to take the opportunity to thank all police officers, staff and volunteers for working so tirelessly together and in partnership to support our communities during these challenging times.

Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney, NPCC lead for Local Policing.
23 March 2021

Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council January 2021

Police chiefs gather for first council of 2021

Martin white shirt.jpgThe past year has seen a big change to everyone’s daily lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the policing landscape has changed alongside this. Much like all of the public sector, policing has played its role in helping to support the public health response, on top of its day-to-day response to, and prevention of crime.

We began the first day with an update on the status of personal protective equipment for officers and staff, which we continue to have sufficient stock of within forces supported through a well-established and reliable supply chain. We also discussed the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU. The agreement between the UK and EU on law enforcement and the contingencies in place has meant that we have seen a limited impact on day-to-day policing to date, however we will track how new arrangements are working and will engage with government and with European partners where more work is needed to resolve any issues.

Council discussed how we could improve coordination among forces through enhancing the central hub within the NPCC. There was widespread support from chief constables for improving strategic planning and business capability, and strengthening communication and support for coordination committees. I will be sharing more on these changes as our plans are finalised.

Neil Basu, Head of Counter Terrorism (CT) Policing, gave an update highlighting the increasing cross-agency working, such as with prisons and government, which is helping to tackle terrorism more effectively. Additionally, there has been increased engagement with important stakeholders through the CT Advisory Network which now covers the entire country, providing an independent forum for challenging and providing new ideas for countering extremism.

The first day was concluded with examples of how through the increased use of technology policing could more effectively use the data it owns. With this technology we can improve our understanding of the local crime picture and decrease the time it takes to deal with data as part of an investigation, helping to provide a better service to victims and improve the response to crime trends.

Beginning on day two we discussed the developing plan of action on inclusion and race that all chiefs committed to in summer 2020. The relationship between policing and our communities is vital for the legitimacy of policing but there is a trust deficit in the police among some Black People – for example confidence in the police is nearly 20 per cent lower than the national average in Black Caribbean communities. There was agreement that a focus on addressing concerns of Black People specifically must be in addition to ongoing efforts to ensure policing is inclusive and fair to all and that concerns from minority or under-represented groups are acted on. Proposals included outlining a plan with clear programme management and governance, external oversight of the work from independent people with lived experience, and a multi-year financial commitment to this high-priority work. I look forward to being able to share more on this plan of action soon.

Janette McCormick, Programme Director for the Police Uplift Programme, which is tasked with recruiting 20,000 additional officers over three years, updated us on the work that is being done and how the Uplift team is working closely with forces to drive the attraction and retention of recruits. Latest figures have subsequently been released by the Home Office which show what good progress has been made. The focus of the Uplift attraction work is to address barriers and perceptions of policing as a career through targeted attraction and engagement work across all protected characteristics in addition to the national campaign. Chiefs agreed with the proposal of work that is being undertaken.

Chiefs also heard from the new chair of the College of Policing Board, Nick Herbert, about his plans to review the role of the College to make sure that it provides the best service to officers and can provide the evidence base and standards that help to ensure that policing provides the best service it possibly can to the public.

Council concluded with several presentations on understanding the performance of policing through the use of our data. There is little doubt that our data is a critical asset that can help frontline officers and policing as a whole to ask smarter questions and make better decisions, meaning a better overall response for the public. This is going to be a huge opportunity for policing over the coming years and one which chiefs are committed to exploiting.

National Police Chiefs' Council Chair, Martin Hewitt

What have we learnt about dealing with mental health during the pandemic?

Chief Inspector Steve Baker reflects on what policing has learnt about dealing with mental health during Covid-19

Steve Baker.pngCoronavirus has undoubtedly taken its toll on the mental health of the British public, and seven months after restrictions were announced, the uncertainty that still surrounds the pandemic means that, sadly, this is likely to be the case for some time.

In recent years, the police service has had to respond to an increased level of demand caused by incidents related to mental health, and from this, a culture has emerged that places the police as the first port of call when someone is in crisis.

It is right that the role of the police is to protect those in immediate danger, but those in crisis need longer term mental health support and access to prevention measures. However, things are starting to change, and World Mental Health Day provides an important opportunity for me to highlight some of the fantastic partnership activity which is currently taking place, specifically with regards to coronavirus.

I was so impressed during the initial weeks of national lockdown at the collective response by those organisations involved in treating mental health. Specialised units started to appear alongside Emergency Departments within Acute Trusts, and within weeks NHS England had launched a dedicated crisis number covering all areas within England. Tireless work by health and social care colleagues resulted in parts of the Mental Health Act becoming digitised, enabling consultations via remote video assessments in certain circumstances and the use of digital forms to provide a more efficient and effective process whilst ensuring a high quality of care for patients. Detailed planning was also completed to ensure that suitable amendments to legislation could be implemented, if required. These included only using one doctor for assessments or extending detentions times at Places of Safety if there were excessive delays.

Colleagues working within the voluntary sector started to see a significant increase in calls, which was a positive thing in my mind, as it meant those who were struggling were contacting the right people, and getting quicker access to support. Organisations such as SHOUT offered a text based service that proved particularly popular with younger people. Above all, there was a real sense of partnership and renewed effort by all involved to make sure that people were being kept safe.

When the virus first started to impact our lives, the police initially saw a sharp decrease in mental health incidents. However, in recent months, this trend has reversed and we are seeing people with what are believed to be significant mental health issues. The availability of health based places of safety continues to be one of the most problematic issues for policing, but NHS England is extremely receptive to these concerns with support through their Long Term Plan.

Key proposals, such as an all-encompassing 111 service for adults covering both physical and mental health, will be fast-tracked to be launched nationwide within 12 months. Investment in crisis alternatives such as Crisis Cafés are planned, and dedicated mental health ambulances (which would negate the need to transport patients in police vehicles) are due to be launched by 2021. The need to immediately involve the police will hopefully diminish, so too the option of having to use police custody for those detained under the Mental Health Act, which continues to decline.

Indeed, people facing mental health crisis may be concerned that police have arrived to help them in the first instance, instead of mental health professionals. We should be clear about the fact that these are non-crime incidents which police respond to, involving people who are highly vulnerable and in need of an emergency response. Officers are highly trained to listen and help those who need support, and will always look to make quick referrals within the health service where appropriate to do so but they are not clinicians. Ensuring the appropriate multi-agency response is what is required.

Suicide is sadly still a huge challenge for us all. Collating real time data within policing can be difficult and we only have anecdotal evidence to currently go on, but there is a concern that coronavirus-related suicides may be increasing. To help better understand and support these issues and thereby allow preventative activity, Public Health England is currently running a number of pilots across the country, and Public Health Scotland is involved in a similar piece of work.

Our response to coronavirus goes to show what can be achieved when we work together to improve the experiences of those suffering from mental health related issues. The police service is always there to keep people safe but we need to change the culture of over-reliance on this service and ensure that those in crisis are given the most appropriate care at the earliest opportunity. There is a clear drive and desire to create positive relationships at the national level, to work together and make improvements; we must ensure that this is the catalyst for equally strong partnerships at all levels so that positive changes come from this terrible year.

Subsequent projects to learn about people’s experiences are now to be found in a study I am involved in with Manchester Metropolitan University, to look at why a disproportionate number of black men are detained under the Mental Health Act. Funding has been secured for a three year project into this much needed and timely piece of work.

The Police and Crime Commissioner Lead for Mental Health, Mathew Scott, is collating a range of evidence from police, partners and Experts by Experience , to collect their views on the impact of coronavirus on policing . Submissions close on Sunday, 25, October. These will form recommendations for the government in the New Year.

It is important to remember that anyone of us can become unwell at any time. Our mental health is part of our DNA and there are days when we all feel stressed or anxious for no apparent reason; it is perfectly normal. This is just as true for those working in the emergency services and on the frontline.

During 2020, police officers, staff and volunteers have endured significant challenges in responding to coronavirus, which is why the service must make sure that help and support is available. There are many fantastic support organisations out there, such as the National Police Wellbeing Service and Oscar Kilo , who provide resources, research and guidance for all blue light organisations. Remember, it’s ok not to be ok.

There will be some who perhaps did not experience a positive response to their mental ill health during the pandemic – changing a culture takes time. We are starting to see a social acceptance around the existence and impact of mental health and we must continue to work together. There is still much to do but the arrival of coronavirus has at least led to some positive outcomes to ensure that we continue to keep people safe.

Chief Inspector Steve Baker is the national mental health co-ordinator at the College of Policing and National Police Chief’s Council

DCC Julie Cooke discusses the importance of Pride

Pride marches may have been cancelled, but we must not forget its message

Headshot2c.jpgAs we celebrated the start of 2020 we had no idea what lay just around the corner. We are now living in a vastly changed world that has seen every part of life affected by coronavirus. Whether through loss of jobs, livelihoods, the inability to go out and meet people, schools, shops and businesses closed, socialising only from a distance and losing friends and family members, COVID-19 has hit us all hard.

The horrific death of George Floyd in America and the events that have followed have also been a major focus. We know that the virus is having a disproportionate impact on our BAME communities and when I speak to people from under-represented groups it is clear the past few months have been incredibly tough.

It is clear that cancelling Pride marches and celebrations is also going to have a huge impact this year. Within policing, Pride is celebrated as an opportunity for our staff to be themselves and show who they are, very publicly, in a Pride march. Pride started as a protest against the harassment and mistreatment of the LGBT+ community and today the police involvement in Pride sends a strong message, not only to victims, but to those who wish to cause harm to the LGBT+ community. I know from speaking to colleagues how important it is to them that they are able to show their communities that the police service has changed and is on their side.

The encouragement and backing they receive from their supervisors to take part also reinforces the support for them in the workplace and it gives them a sense of inclusion and acceptance.

The effect of COVID-19 means that it is really hard for many LGBT+ people to get the support they would normally have through social contact and through their networks and social groups. Not having Pride has also taken away their opportunity to catch up with friends, which is critical to many colleagues as this is the time to refuel, re-energise and to share experience in a way that formal meetings can’t provide. Of course, this is the same for everyone due to COVID-19; but Pride is the place that many LGBT+ people boost their mental health and connect with those across the country, enjoying the security in being together, being in a safer place, celebrating progress made and being truly themselves.

Pride helps to show our communities that we are a diverse organisation and that we want to encourage people from all backgrounds to join policing. There are many opportunities for anyone to excel in policing, but we have to make sure we look like and are representative of the people we serve. Being at Pride helps to bridge the gap between policing and our communities and it helps to instil confidence for people to turn to us when they need us. It is vital that we show the public that policing has, and continues to, evolve. The past few months have brought back to the public eye the long way policing still has to go so we are truly reflective of the communities we serve and I know this is a priority for every chief officer in the country.

Over the last few months there has been a lot of focus on trans rights and the rights of women. Within policing our focus has been to ensure trans people are supported in the workplace, that their welfare is paramount and they are able to be themselves at work.

This year there are a number of virtual Prides with some very exciting and diverse events planned. Policing already has strong links with Pride organisations across the country and we want to further those relationships and fully engage with the virtual Prides. I am encouraging supervisors and senior managers to support their LGBT+ staff to be part of the virtual Prides, just as we would normally.

Every year we have hundreds of allies who are keen to take part in Pride and I want this to continue this year. This visible support for LGBT+ colleagues is greatly appreciated and reinforces what the police service should be. As with every year, I have no doubt I’ll be asked by some:

  • "Why all the rainbows? Why the Rainbow cars?"
  • “Why the need to keeping talking about Pride?"
  • "Why do I need to support this – I’m not gay?"
  • "You’re already accepted, so why make a big deal of it?”

I will tell those people to think about what it is like to be persecuted because of the person you love or the person you are and I will tell them that LGBT+ hate crime is still significantly under reported and that LGBT+ people are still attacked in the street in 2020 Britain because of who they are.

People do not choose to be gay, bisexual or trans, it is just who they are, and like everyone else, they have the right to feel comfortable and confident in work, as well as when they walk down the street.

I do hope that by next year we will be able to march alongside each other with pride – police, communities and allies – and celebrate our support for diversity in all its forms.

Happy Pride season 2020!

DCC Julie Cooke, NPCC Lead for LGBT+ issues

How we can stop female genital mutilations

FGM is happening in the UK and we must work together to tackle it

IB.jpgMore than 200 million girls and woman have undergone female genital mutilation around the world and, according to the World Health Organisation, a further three million are at threat.

Many think that this barbaric crime happens only in Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia – just last week police in Egypt arrested the parents and aunt of a 14-year-old girl who died after undergoing FGM. But there are also victims here in the UK. The latest statistics from NHS Digital reveal that between April 2018 and March 2019 6,415 woman and girls in this country were found by health professionals to have undergone FGM at some point in their lives – and similar numbers were identified in the previous year.

This brutal procedure is committed by the people children should be able to trust the most. In many cases young people are tricked by being told they are going abroad on holiday, only to be cut when they arrive. But, as the first UK conviction for FGM in February last year proved, the procedure is being undertaken in this country too.

Today the world marks International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation and it is a reminder of why police must continue our efforts to combat FGM. Last summer the National Police Chiefs’ Council joined with Border Force to mount an operation at airports across the country targeting those who were taking their children abroad to commit crimes including forced marriage and FGM. However, equally as important as enforcement are efforts to change attitudes and behaviour. During the same operation, officers spoke to hundreds of people and helped train airport and airline staff to spot the signs that a child could be about to be taken abroad to be abused.

In 2018 we signed an agreement with various United States agencies to share intelligence about travel patterns and trends in FGM to help build our knowledge and learn lessons from each other.

We are also working hard to build relations with communities across the country, because information from them is the key to helping officers disrupt and stop FGM - before harm is inflicted. In many cases, the survivor is unwilling or unable to give evidence against a loved one and so any additional information about the perpetrator, or patterns of behaviour, can be crucial to getting a conviction.

But eradicating FGM can’t be done by policing alone. We need to stop this crime from happening in the first place and that can only be done with a joined-up approach across several areas like health, education, social services and charities. The people who are most likely to spot the signs are not police officers, but rather those in regular contact with these children, like teachers, doctors and nurses.

As the national policing lead I am clear that we will take every possible step to investigate and prosecute those who are intent on inflicting this dreadful harm on children. But if we are to really make a true and lasting impact we must redouble our efforts on preventing this from ever happening in the first place.

I would appeal to anyone who has concerns or information, no matter how small or insignificant you think it might be, to get in touch with the police. We will treat each individual case sensitively and confidentially.

Some of the signs someone could be at risk of FGM are available on the National FGM Centre website.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for FGM, Commander Ivan Balhatchet

Data Protection Day

Data Protection Day – Why it matters

ACC Nick Bailey Tunic.jpgWe cannot police without information. It helps us to keep people safe, prevent and detect crime and bring offenders to justice. It is indisputable.

Most information comes directly from the public, from communities, from businesses, from witnesses and from victims of crime. This information isn’t just general conversation, or words on a page. It is personal, and often highly sensitive. People share information with us about their most traumatic experiences, about their most privately held thoughts, feelings and fears. This can be understandably difficult and distressing, put people in difficult situations or, worse, at risk of harm.

Personal and sensitive information is ‘entrusted’ to us to allow us to do our duty. Data protection is our responsibility, and it is our duty to treat this information sensitively, securely, lawfully, and effectively for the purpose it is provided to us for – policing. If we don’t, we will lose the trust of the people we serve. If we lose their trust, we lose their cooperation, and with that, the vital information we need. That is why it matters, and why it is important that we demonstrate this.

People trust us with their information, and we have not just a legal, but a moral obligation to ensure that data is managed appropriately and sensitively.

So, on Data Protection Day, I’d like to take the opportunity as NPCC lead for Data Protection to demonstrate our commitment. Data Protection Day was launched in 2006 and it is now recognised as an international day, which seeks to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust.

We are working hard to tackle misconceptions and de-mystify data protection officers and staff. Key messages to understand are:

  • Information sharing saves lives. Data protection enables this. Forces share massive volumes of information daily for all manner of reasons, including safeguarding, law enforcement, employment checks, and through schemes such as Claire’s Law and Sarah’s Law. We simply need to make sure we are sharing the right information, with the right person, at the right time with necessary safeguards in place.
  • The use of new techniques and technologies such as body worn video, facial recognition or artificial intelligence for public good is essential for the future of policing in the modern world. For it to be effective and maintain the confidence of the public, it must be responsible, transparent, consultative, and be based on good quality, accurate data.
  • Cyber-attacks, security incidents and data breaches can have devastating consequences for the public, officers and staff, and policing operations and investigations. We need to be vigilant, aware and informed, ensuring we embed appropriate protective measures to our technologies and activities.

The work of my portfolio supports the service through its specialists working in the areas of data subject rights, authorised professional practice and guidance, learning and development, data protection reform, and environmental scanning amongst other things. It includes key representatives from all force areas, and important stakeholders such as ACPO Criminal Records Office, NPCC National Disclosure Unit and the College of Policing. We also work closely with the Information Commissioner’s Offices as representatives of the public, and other linked NPCC portfolios.

On Data Protection Day, I have urged Chief Constables to take the opportunity to reinforce their commitment to the safe and lawful handling of personal data. Many officers and staff throughout the country will be undertaking learning and development activities. Tools are available for police forces to help them with this including e-learning, training videos, guidance and Authorised Professional Practise. Local force Twitter feeds may include information on any other local initiatives they have in place.

It matters to you; it matters to us.

Happy Data Protection Day!

NPCC Data Protection Lead ACC Nick Bailey

Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council January 2020

Police chiefs gather for first council of 2020

The policing landscape has changed dramatically in the past year and the first Chief Constables’ Council of 2020 was an opportunity for leaders of the service to come together to discuss our vision for the coming decade.Martin white shirt.jpg

I began the first day by giving chiefs an update on the changes to policing happening at a national level. This included the specific, though positive, challenge we have in recruiting 20,000 additional officers over the next three years, but also the wider challenge of thinking and acting with other agencies in a more preventative way, reducing crime and bringing more offenders to justice.

We discussed the recently created National Policing Board that is chaired by the Home Secretary, and which has its third meeting later this month. The board is a real opportunity to discuss priority issues and drive improvements in policing. We are determined to work with government to make the board as effective as it can possibly be.

Chief Constable Rod Hansen and Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Jason Masters gave Council an update on the National Aviation Programme. The National Police Air Service (NPAS) is an important capability for policing to help catch criminals and protect vulnerable people, yet there is recognition that we need to shape a new strategy for police air support that meets the needs of police forces and takes advantage of new technology. The ongoing work was widely supported by chiefs.

This was followed by a wide-ranging discussion on the upcoming serious and organised crime review and how police forces could work even more collaboratively with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and other law enforcement partners. After a presentation by Sir Craig Mackey we had a good discussion. There were strong views expressed by chiefs about the state of the current system and agreement that this review has the potential to lead to change that enables the whole system to fight the threat from serious and organised criminals more effectively.

We finished the day with an update on the officer and staff safety review by Chief Constable Charlie Hall. This review is being undertaken after recent serious attacks on police officers and concern about rising officer assaults. The review has worked in fast time and looked at issues such as safety training, equipment, deployment and operational planning, investigations into officer assaults and care provided, and the response from the criminal justice system and the extent to which it provides a sufficient deterrent. The views of officers and staff have been central to the review with 40,000 officers and staff responding to a survey from the College of Policing. The findings of the review, and the recommendations for action will be published soon.

We began bright and early on day two, with Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Wilson sharing plans for research to understand and address the lack of representation of women and BAME officers and staff in senior leadership roles. As part of this research, both serving and former staff from differing backgrounds will be taking part in focus groups over the next three months to provide a solid evidence base from which to make recommendations for improvement.

Council concluded with a wide-ranging discussion on issues such as driving down crime and particularly violent crime, the upcoming spending review, the Royal Commission into the criminal justice process, how we use new and develop our current technology, how policing is structured and organised and many others.

As the first Council since the new Government was elected there was much to discuss about policies and priorities and how we will work with the Government. Strengthening the whole system, true collaboration and preventing crime as much as responding to it were themes across the two days.

NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Police must keep working to keep people safe

Dan V.jpgThe sex industry is complex. It is constantly evolving and is largely hidden from public view. That means sex workers are some of the most vulnerable people to violence in our society. All too often they are abused, exploited and profited from. Sadly, many of these crimes will go unreported and unpunished, because sex workers still fear they won’t be believed or will themselves face investigation.

Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and for me, as national policing lead for sex workers, it’s a time to reiterate our commitment to improving the consistency of our front-line response and increasing trust, so victims have the confidence to report crimes to us. It’s also about sending a message to perpetrators who specifically choose vulnerable people as their victims because they expect to get away with it. We will investigate all allegations and take action against you.

Society has mixed views on sex work and the issue can polarise opinion, with some believing it should be challenged at every level, and others saying it’s a personal choice for individuals who deserve police protection like anyone else. Many people would support elements of both sides.

It is not for me, or for policing, to pass judgement on the personal choices people make within the law. It is for policing to keep people safe, investigate crime and bring criminals to justice. That applies to everyone in society and the focus must always be to target those who abuse, exploit and commit acts of violence against people they know to be more vulnerable. The only people responsible for violence are those who commit it.

In January chief constables across the country agreed a refresh of our national guidance that makes it clear officers will not start from a position that treats sex workers as criminals, but rather focus on those who are committing violence and exploitation against them. In some cases that could be punters who are using violence, but it also extends to the organised crime groups who we know are involved in the sex industry. It is our responsibility to robustly investigate and bring those involved to justice.

We are working with groups representing sex workers, like the National Ugly Mugs (NUM), a charity which aims to end violence against sex workers. They take reports and share them anonymously with police. We also work with the charity to reach some 25,000 sex workers in the UK with safety information.

Police forces are working to better understand their local picture and identify and engage with partners and support services, so we can gain the trust of the community. We also recognise that some victims will not want an investigation and are seeking only to warn others. We’re working to make sure officers know of the appropriate agencies to refer victims to when police action is not possible.

Working closely with charities and the sex worker community is the key to increasing confidence in the police, so we can do everything we can to keep them as safe as possible. Just as the sex industry is constantly evolving, so too is the policing response. I am committed to making sure our procedures and guidance are the best they can be to protect the vulnerable and bring criminals to justice, so that we can all work towards an end to violence against sex workers.

National Police Chiefs' Council lead for Prostitution and Sex Workers ACC Dan Vajzovic

Drones and the police


DAC Lucy D'Orsi discusses criminal use of drones

In January 2019 I took responsibility for developing the UK police national counter drones strategy and capability. This is to counter the threat from drones in several areas such as organised crime and terrorism.

Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are becoming ever more popular. Their versatility is being explored by all sections of our communities to carry out a whole host of functions. Drones are making an indelible mark on our day to day lives and their future potential has been debated by several think tanks and academics. Government is considering the UKs position on the potential for the drone’s industry in the UK and everyone continues to look at drone development and usage across the International landscape.

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As with any developing technology, there will always be those who seek to utilise drone capability for illicit and illegal means. We are working closely with government and industry to develop a raft of measures that will help in the fight against drone enabled crime whilst allowing those that want to lawfully use drones for business or pleasure to do so relatively unimpeded. We have some exceptionally talented officers who are working with government and industry experts to look at how we develop counter drone technology to afford maximum security to the UK from drone enabled crime.

The public play a vital role to countering the threat from drones. We continue to appeal to everyone to let us know about any suspicious drone activity. If you see something that doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t, so please contact the police.

To those intent on using drones for criminal purposes, through developing technology and traditional policing we will track you down and prosecute. Maybe not always immediately, but eventually.

This is an exciting area of police work and our progress is gaining speed as we work closer with industry and scientists to develop groundbreaking solutions to this threat.

For more information and the latest guidance flying a drone please visit

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Criminal use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones) CC Lucy D'Orsi

Chief Superintendent Nik Adams discusses Prevent

Prevent: how we safeguard the vulnerable and how we manage our data

Protecting children and adults from harm is a key priority for the police service and this is no different for those of us working in Counter Terrorism Policing. We aim to intervene at the earliest possible stage so that, working with others such as local councils, health and mental health service providers, and education professionals, we can prevent people from being drawn into all forms of terrorism or supporting terrorism. This includes extreme right wing and Islamist ideologies. Radicalisation is the name we give to the process through which people might come to support or be involved in terrorism or violent extremism.

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I have spent 18 years working in front-line neighbourhood policing roles and over 10 years volunteering as a school governor of a large inner-city school. My experience is in working with communities and building partnerships to solve community-based problems. Police officers, like many in public service, care immensely about improving lives and keeping people safe. That is why I am passionate about Prevent and I am proud to lead the work undertaken by the police to deliver it. We are constantly striving to do better, which is why I welcomed the announcement of the independent review and its goals to increase transparency and improve counter radicalisation work. We acknowledge Prevent inspires strong views, but that makes it even more important that everyone engages with the review. I hope all opinions are considered to improve how we work together to keep everyone safe from terrorism.

Recently, some questions have been raised about how we deal with referrals and what happens to the information we receive. I’d like to address that directly and be clear about what Prevent is and the police role in delivering it.

What is Prevent?

Our approach begins by understanding people are victims of radicalisation; we don’t view them as suspects or criminals. When someone is referred to us we offer early help as an alternative to leaving views or behaviour to escalate to the stage where investigation and arrest may become necessary. Prevent stops people from being drawn into criminal activity and offers a way out of extremism. Our approach is rooted in care and concern for those involved.

Prevent protects vulnerable individuals, their families, friends and our communities by helping people to overcome the issues that make them vulnerable to radicalisation. A sense of grievance with the world or seeing life through a ‘them and us’ mind-set, frequently set against complex needs such autism spectrum disorders, alcohol and drug problems, and mental illness, can conspire to make people vulnerable. Each journey is unique and our approach, using the voluntary Channel Programme to co-ordinate the work of other professionals, charities and community groups, builds solutions that are as unique as the people we serve.

So what happens when a referral is received by the police?

When the police receive a referral it will be professionally assessed and, if there appears to be a genuine cause for concern, we will make contact with the individual. Information about the case is entered onto the Prevent Case Management Tracker (PCMT) and we work hard to gain the consent of individuals and their families to receive support. The Home Office published a simple flow diagram of what happens next in the 2018 Contest Strategy document (page 38). Records of the information given to us and what actions are subsequently taken are kept on the PCMT. The police apply similar processes and record similar information to other safeguarding concerns like child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking.

We developed our method of recording information to help us understand individual vulnerabilities, to monitor whether these are increasing or if a particular intervention is working, to ensure there is consistent practice across the country, and to enable the sharing of information between Prevent officers if someone moves to a different area. Records enable us to manage unresolved vulnerabilities and outstanding actions, and, importantly, they ensure we act proportionately, taking action only where support is necessary.

All records held are subject to legal requirements; they are monitored regularly and deleted when it is no longer necessary to keep them. Records allow us to produce and publish annual statistics that facilitate oversight and accountability of our work. They do not include details of individual cases to protect the identities of those supported by our programmes. To be clear, information held about referrals to Prevent is not a criminal record and it is not shared with prospective employers, universities or colleges.

Only a relatively small number of trained police Prevent professionals have access to the PCMT and, although other officers or agencies could request to see certain information held, this would only be granted in very specific circumstances based on risk. We take great care with the information we hold and treat all personal information sensitively, confidentially and in accordance with the law.

We follow the same rules for our Prevent database as police colleagues working in other areas of safeguarding like child sexual abuse, domestic violence or human trafficking. This helps us to keep people safe and I believe this is what the public would expect.

And how does Prevent work in practice?

Radicalisers pray on those who are vulnerable, including adults with complex needs or young children in their formative years.

For example, sometimes concerns are raised for young children who display extreme language or behaviour. The response of professionals, similar to if a young child used sexualised language or behaviour, is to protect the child from harm and identify what caused the behaviour. Is the child being groomed online? Have they been the victim of abuse? Who is abusing them? The solution might be a simple one, such as providing internet safety education for parents, or in cases of serious harm, it may involve specialist support for the child and managing the ongoing risk by identifying and dealing with the radicaliser. Prevent is no different to other forms of safeguarding.

I see the tireless work of Prevent professionals every day, supporting people through mentoring, mental health intervention, securing employment, or providing help with gaining a college or university place. To highlight just one recent case, a young college student had posted extremist views online and their behaviour resulted in exclusion from college. Prevent officers supported them through the Channel programme to overcome the hate they felt towards others. The case officer visited five colleges with the young person before successfully convincing a Principal to give them a second chance. Previous behaviour, often visible online and on social media indefinitely, has the potential to blight futures. I am proud of the work of my Prevent colleagues in giving people a second chance.

What can you do?

Anyone with concerns can come forward and report these in confidence, knowing that the information they share will be dealt with sensitively and proportionately. If you are concerned for a loved one, please contact local police on 101.

Chief Superintendent Nik Adams, National Coordinator for Prevent

Follow on Twitter: @NatCoordPrevent

Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council October 2019

Martin Hewitt reflects on 6 months as chair of NPCC and October’s Chief Constables' Council

As I come to my six-month anniversary as chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council, I reflect on how much the environment has transformed for policing in such a short period of time. The discussions that were held at the third Chief Constables' Council of my tenure, the senior decision-making forum for police chiefs held in Winchester last week, reflect this. Looking back at my first Council as chair in Manchester earlier this year shows how much has changed, but also how much has stayed the same.

Martin white shirt.jpgWe began the first day with a discussion on how much the political and funding environment for policing has changed in recent months. The additional 20,000 officers that I have been tasked with bringing into the service over the next three years will be a significant challenge, but it is certainly a good challenge to have. This increase in officers will help us to provide a better service, reduce crime and ease the pressure on our people, but crucially it will also help us to accelerate our plans to improve the diversity of our workforce so that we properly reflect our communities.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins gave us an update on the ongoing work to make policing more representative of the communities we serve and the significant challenges that we need to tackle if we are to improve female and ethnic minority representation at every level, including senior leadership roles. A national survey of our officers and staff will be taking place which will help us to understand the levels of change and improvement across the country since the introduction of the National Police Wellbeing Service and our national diversity strategy. Two national reports will be produced on the back of this which will examine key statistics, issues raised and areas of concern. Chiefs also agreed to contribute to research to create an evidence base which looks at the factors behind the lack of diversity at chief officer level and the reduction in the tenure of chief constables. This will be used to bring forward proposals for change.

We have a long way to go on diversity, but Council was pleased to hear from College of Policing CEO Mike Cunningham that the latest figures show the highest ever percentage of women passing through the Senior Police National Assessment Centre (SPNAC), becoming eligible for the most senior leadership development programme, the Strategic Command Course (SCC).

We also have the challenge of transforming how the NPCC and wider policing operates to make sure that we can make the most of the opportunity these new recruits represent and ensure that we are able to encourage and support both current and future police leaders in their roles. Our Vice Chairs Dave Thompson and Giles York led a discussion on ideas to improve this support and Council endorsed the need for a thorough system of continuous professional development in senior leadership roles. They will be working closely with the College of Policing to develop proposals.

Chief Constable Matt Jukes gave a broad update on pay and pensions, briefing chiefs on further work underway around police pensions in light of recent court cases. He set out proposals to make a policing career even more attractive, with steps to retain the skills and experience of our current officers and staff and encourage those with specific skills and experience to join the service. One of the proposals is to extend the time that our officers and staff receive full pay while on maternity, paternity or adoption leave aiming at bringing policing in line with the most competitive offers in the public sector. With the support of chiefs, Matt is now developing a detailed proposal before putting the case for change to government.

We concluded a full day with an update on the officer safety review that I commissioned in September, which will examine in quick time the key issues - training, equipment, deployment, support after an assault and the deterrent effect of the wider criminal justice system response. The aim is to give us some evidence about what more could be done to protect officers and staff from violence. This is a very important piece of work and all were pleased with the progress and the broad engagement that the team have achieved in such a short period of time. Chiefs have agreed the terms of reference for this work and they will be published soon.

Day two began with an update on the implications for policing of the UK leaving the European Union. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin and Steve Rodhouse from the National Crime Agency have been preparing policing for the loss of tools and powers that we currently rely on to manage crime and offenders if we leave without a deal, while Chief Constable Charlie Hall and Assistant Chief Constable Owen Weatherill have worked on resilience plans to manage the broader policing requirements that may be needed. Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke brought to life the specific challenges faced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in managing our exit.

While policing has prepared extensively for any outcome, all chiefs are conscious of how stretched our resources are and will be in the run up to the end of October, and how the tools we may have to rely on will be more time consuming and less effective than those used currently.

We were joined for the final session of Council by the recently appointed Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, who took part in a discussion led by Chief Constable Gareth Morgan on the issues which limit police performance. These range from officers being expected to act as first responders for those in mental health crisis to the increasing amount of frontline officer and staff time taken up with crime recording requirements.

Council closed with a talk by the Policing Minister outlining his aspirations for the outcomes he would expect from policing as a result of increased resources and he took a wide range of questions and feedback from chiefs. These will be discussed further at the National Policing Board that is chaired by the Home Secretary. I speak for all chiefs in saying how much we appreciated the minister’s time and his willingness to engage so directly and thoroughly.

This was another busy two days of Council at a very busy and challenging time for policing and my thanks go to everyone there who engaged in the discussions and lively debate.

While we are in a much different, and better, position than even six months ago when I first took on this role, I cannot understate the challenges that policing faces. Some of those are new, such as the challenge of recruiting 20,000 additional police officers, and some are not, such as preparing for our departure from the European Union or ensuring we are promoting and supporting the best and most diverse people into leadership roles. All chiefs are up for the challenge and are embracing the opportunities to deliver for the public.

Chief Constable Gavin Stephens explains the role of social media officers

Police social media officers – what’s the point?

What does a police social media officer do all day, and is it of any value? A recent article by The Sun suggests not and the response to it shows others have their doubts.

CC Stephens portrait.jpgSocial is now an integral part of how we police and how we engage with communities that are connected online. Far from being a waste of resource, social media officers help us to be more efficient in preventing and detecting crime and keeping people safe.

Every single day they assist their uniformed and detective colleagues to find missing people and trace dangerous suspects – reaching more people, more quickly and with more accuracy than knocking on doors or dropping leaflets. Social media allows us to share information quickly and easily with the right people, and in the right places, and operational colleagues know that this often unlocks a case and prevents further crime. They’ve also become the first port of call for many during emergencies like terror attacks or major floods or storms, alerting the public and providing fast-time warnings that help save lives.

Police comms teams around the country have so many examples of social media making a real difference. These are a just a few:

  • Durham Constabulary issued a CCTV image of a man they wanted to speak to following a burglary in which two high value Range Rovers were stolen. Within a day of the appeal being posted on social media, the offender’s mother rang in to say it was her son in the picture and he was arrested.
  • A man sadly died after being pulled from the sea in Scarborough. North Yorkshire Police did not have any information about his identity. Following a Facebook appeal they identified him within 24 hours.
  • Dyfed Powys Police issued an appeal for information about a man wanted for murder. A member of the public saw the appeal, recognised the man on a public beach and reported him. He was arrested, charged and subsequently jailed.
  • In Surrey, during a series of burglaries the force used Facebook to warn people in postcodes where the offences were taking place and give them crime prevention advice. Officers said this helped reach people who may not have been in when they were making house calls and sped up the process.
  • The Metropolitan Police Service launched a campaign that celebrated 100 years of female police officers in the force with social media playing a key part. The campaign led to a significant increase in applications from women.

Using a range of social channels means we can speak to people and get involved in the conversation where it’s already happening. A survey conducted by forces in 2018 found that 51 per cent of respondents viewed social as their preferred method of contacting police about non-emergency issues; this requires that contact management staff work closely with professional communicators.

In the same survey, 90 per cent of respondents viewed the police as a credible and trusted source of information. When emergencies happen, these people are turning to police social channels for information and advice, and then sharing that advice with their friends and families. During the recent Whaley Bridge dam collapse, Derbyshire Constabulary (along with other emergency services) posted 147 updates, which were then shared 21,000 times.

Social media helps us show how crimes are solved, building confidence in the criminal justice system. This week, my force shared bodycam footage of the arrest of a 34-year-old man on a plane to Ethiopia (with a one way ticket), four days after he'd had sex with a 14 year old girl. Over a series of tweets we explained how the 14 year old was first reported missing, how she was found and how specialist officers worked with her to gain her trust and then arrest him.

A career in policing, wherever it is, is hugely rewarding. But it can also be demanding, fast-paced and with high stakes. This means police communicators must be prepared to respond at pace to the unexpected, sometimes work unsociable hours and be accountable for any mistakes. The right people are needed to do the job, and we need to ensure pay reflects their skill and experience.

Modern policing needs a range of people with different skills, different backgrounds and doing different roles but crucially working together for the same outcomes – preventing crime, solving it and keeping people safe.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Social Media and Digital Engagement, CC Gavin Stephens

DCC Julie Cooke asks important questions about contemporary LGBT issues

What are we doing now that we will feel embarrassed about in a few years?

I wrote a blog back in June about my role as NPCC lead for LGBT+ and why it is so important for us all to support Pride. As we start to come towards the end of Pride season, I have been reflecting on some of the things that are going on currently and in particular I will focus on T and B.

Why? Well, because trans people are being persecuted daily for who they are by lots of people, some of whom come under the LGBT+ umbrella and who you would have thought would be supporting rather than persecuting. I choose not to repeat some of the vile language used. I also have been thinking about bi – not many people talk about being bi for fear of challenge, for not being able to ‘make up their mind, being greedy or not being quite gay enough’. Yet what do all of these people have in common? They are human and are just being themselves.

It makes me wonder what I will be discussing with the next generation in 20 years or so, and how uncomfortable we may all feel about some of what is going on today. Consider, for example, the hurdles that the LGBT+ community has overcome in the last half century.

  • 1950s onwards – Canadian LGBT purge. LGBT workers in the Canadian Military and Civil Service removed from their roles because they were LGBT+. This wasn’t stopped until the 1990s
  • 1969 – Stonewall Riots. We saw the start of the LGBT+ movement in the USA and around the world. So much has improved for LGBT+ people and yet there is so far to go
  • 1972 – The first Pride was held in London
  • 1986 – In December 1986, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police stated that homosexuals, drug addicts and prostitutes who had, in his words, AIDS were "swirling in a human cesspit of their own making"
  • 1988 – Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. A Local Authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship"
  • 1990 – Lesbian and gay police officers established the UK’s Lesbian and Gay Police Association
  • 1992 – World Health Organisation declassifies same-sex attraction as a mental illness
  • 1999 – Trans Day of Remembrance is founded in the USA to remember those who have died as a result of transphobia and transphobic violence
  • 1999 – Admiral Duncan Pub, homophobic nail bomb results in 3 killed and dozens injured
  • 2000 – The UK Government lifts the ban on lesbians, gay men and bi people serving in the armed forces
  • 2003 – Section 28 is repealed in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, lifting the ban on Local Authorities from ‘the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality’
  • 2003 – Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regs becomes law in the UK, making it illegal to discriminate against LGBT in the workplace
  • 2004 – The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is passed
  • 2004 – The Gender Recognition Act 2004 is passed giving trans people full legal recognition in their appropriate gender (only male and female)
  • 2009 – International transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) first held. An annual event dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide
  • 2010 – The Equality Act 2010 officially adds gender reassignment as a protected characteristic
  • 2013 – Alan Turing given a posthumous royal pardon for his conviction of ‘gross indecency’, which led to chemical castration and suicide
  • 2014 – The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 officially comes into force allowing same sex marriage
  • 2016 – The Isle of Man legalises same-sex marriage
  • 2016 – 49 people are killed and 53 people injured after a gunman opens fire in the LGBT nightclub Pulse, in Orlando
  • 2019 – A much better position for LGBT+, but people are still being abused for who they are and in particular trans people suffering significant harm for being themselves. Protests outside schools in Birmingham over LGBT+ equality lessons. Alan Turing chosen to be the face of the new £50 note. Hopefully Northern Ireland will soon have same sex marriage. Delays to the Gender recognition review and the fact that in this country gay conversion therapy still exists and is not yet illegal

So a lot has happened in the last 50 years and much of it is very positive. Yet the freedoms that many of us have who are not LGBT+ have only very recently been put in place for LGBT+ people, and in many parts of the world are not yet established.

We often hear people say that we’re in the same position now with trans rights and awareness as we were 20 years ago with lesbian and gay rights. What can we learn from that process over the last 20 years that could help to accelerate positive change for trans people? How can we increase equality for trans people?

And bi is rarely talked about, yet I believe that sexuality is becoming much more fluid. We have a tendency to want to put people into binary boxes because that’s what our norms are and that’s what we’ve grown up with, but a YouGov survey reported just 4 years ago on the question as to whether people considered themselves 100% heterosexual. With each generation, people see their sexuality as less fixed in stone. For 18-24 year olds surveyed in 2015, 43% placed themselves in the non-binary area and therefore 43% of this age group did not consider themselves to be 100% heterosexual.

A call to action

Call out transphobia, bi-erasure, homophobia and hate when you see it, read it or hear it. Social media has, each and every day, an anti LGBT+ story and this is debilitating for our colleagues. Show up. Don’t simply wear a pin badge or a lanyard; show up at events, at seminars and places where you can aid your learning and knowledge and show your personal support.

Let’s all work together to try to ensure an inclusive society, inclusion within policing and enable everyone to be themselves. I heard someone say recently ‘lots of nudges can turn a wheel and turning a wheel can create a revolution’. Let’s do that soon so we don’t look back in 20 years and see the ongoing battles that our LGBT+ friends have had to continue to pursue.

Guest Blog: Jane Dodds on Give a Day to Policing

MP for Brecon and Radnorshire reflects on day spent with her local force

Jane headshot 13.JPGWith music in venues and on the streets, and a number of other activities in the town, the Jazz Festival brings a lot of activity to Brecon. On the Saturday night of the festival I joined local police officers to see how they go about their work at such a busy time.

The evening was part of the Give a Day to Policing scheme, which encourages politicians to spend time with their local police force, getting a brief glimpse into life on the frontline. As a newly elected MP I’m keen to make sure I’m listening to as many people as possible, so I really welcomed the opportunity.

Before we went out I had a tour of the police station and custodial facilities. I also took the chance to speak to them about some of the challenges they faced in general. We had a lengthy conversation about the relationship between mental health and crime, and the importance of ensuring people with mental health problems receive the support they need.

After the talk at the station it was time to head into the pouring rain for a walk around Brecon. Despite the weather the festival was in full swing, ensuring a lively town along with certain challenges for the police.

We had a discussion with the organisers and heard how they were working with the police to help ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible. We also caught up with the Brecon Street Pastors who continue to do such fantastic work in keeping people safe. From the snapshot I saw everyone was having a great time and seemed to be safe and enjoying themselves.

Events like this bring long and antisocial hours for our local police and I want to put on record my thanks for their hard work. For events like these they are also helped by police forces from wider afield, and various people and organisations who come together to work so hard on the event.

For me it was a Saturday night that really hammered home how committed so many of our police officers are. In our rural communities we may not always see as many flashing lights or hear as many blaring sirens as associated with crime in cities, but that doesn’t mean rural crime isn’t extremely damaging for those it affects.

I’d like to thank our local police officers for inviting me out with them. It was certainly an insightful evening for me, and one that will inform my work as an MP as I look to ensure the police receive the support they need to work as effectively as possible in rural communities like Brecon and Radnorshire.

Jane Dodds is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and MP for Brecon & Radnorshire

Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council July 2019

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NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt reflects on 2019 summer council

I had intended to publish this blog last week but events rather overtook my plans! The arrival of a new Prime Minister, and a new Home Secretary and Policing Minister, along with the commitment to recruit 20,000 police officers over the next three years has transformed our operating environment. I will be the police lead for the recruitment programme working with Home Office and College of Policing colleagues. I am very pleased the work will be led on a day to day basis by Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick from the College of Policing – she is the ideal person for this task. It’s going to be challenging and a significant test for us but I’m confident we’ll realise this great opportunity for the public and the service.

Back to Chief Constables’ Council, which now seems some while ago. Council gave support for a continuation of the work that CC James Vaughan is leading through the Transforming Forensics Programme, which seeks to strengthen current police forensic provision and address the causes of recent crises in the forensic marketplace. There are challenges for chiefs in this new way of working but there was consensus that it is sensible to bring individual forensic providers together so they can work as part of network, which will help to ensure high quality standards. Work must continue to identify funding options and determine individual force contributions.

A further important debate took place on how we keep evolving the way we use helicopters, aeroplanes, and, in the future, drones in our operations. Chief Constable Rod Hansen is leading this work with Chief Constable John Robins, who has responsibility for the management of the National Police Air Service (NPAS). Chiefs approved a new strategy and user requirement for police aviation. In January, chiefs will review proposed improvements to current NPAS arrangements including governance, funding and management of the service. Air support helps us to search for missing people, trace suspects and support major operations so it will always be a requirement for the service. The hard work to deliver the most operationally flexible and cost effective solution will continue.

Over the past year the single greatest operational priority has been to reduce serious violence. Presentations from West Midlands Police, West Yorkshire Police and Staffordshire Police gave a flavour of the range of work that has been undertaken, both with additional funding and without it. We were also joined by officials from the serious violence unit in the Home Office to share views on how we continue to learn lessons and how we assists with taking forward the work on creating violence reduction units (VRUs). The causes of violence are complex, and so the solutions must involve a range of action from government, education, health, social services, housing, youth services, victim services and communities.

We spent a good proportion of time discussing how we enhance police technology, use of data and ICT, which will inform our strategy in these areas. Chiefs supported the work on this being developed by Commissioner Ian Dyson.

As previously, Council expressed serious concerns about the progress of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications programme, which will replace the Airwave radio network. Success in this programme is mission critical for policing and very strong concerns remain about timescales, cost and likely operational effectiveness. These issues will be pressed on our behalf by Chief Constable Keir Pritchard.

Day two began with a long session on the spending review work that has been underway for some time with the Home Office. We were joined by officials leading this and discussed the current shape of the work and gathered ideas and considered issues. The submission that we are working on together with the Home Office will consider investment, but also how to get the policing system working much more smartly – new technology, better governance and more support for the frontline. This will help us to reduce crime, and improve victims’ satisfaction and public confidence.

Council concluded with a session covering a range of workforce issues and generating lively and thoughtful debate. CC Matt Jukes updated on the work he is leading to change the framework for officer pay. There was strong support for the direction, which will make pay fairer by rewarding skills and contribution rather than simply time served. Consultation on the framework will start in the autumn.

The new entry routes into the service (the Policing Education Qualifications Framework) were discussed at length with colleagues from the College of Policing and received strong support from chiefs as the right way to train and recognise constables for the complex role they undertake. This programme is still in implementation and there was a strong consensus that we need to learn the lessons from the early adopters to assist those that are yet to transition.

The College will also review the potential impact of the upcoming officer uplift on implementation with each force. This programme is still in implementation and there was a strong consensus that we need to learn the lessons from the early adopters to assist those that are yet to transition.

Council had been due to end with a visit from both Sajid Javid and Nick Hurd but unfortunately both had to remain in Parliament for a vote. The Home Secretary (as was) sent a short video, which we watched to conclude council. As both are now in different roles, I would like to congratulate them on their new appointments and thank them for the support they’ve both given policing during their tenures. It has been much appreciated. I look forward to working with Priti Patel and Kit Malthouse as productively in the coming months and years.

DCC Julie Cooke explores why she is the NPCC lead for LGBT+

Why am I the National Police Chiefs' Lead for LGBT+ when I’m straight?!

I have never come out as straight. It is just not a thing. Hold onto that thought – how often do you think about disclosing you are heterosexual?


I was out with friends recently and I was telling someone who I hardly knew, that I was the LGBT+ national police lead. "Why do you do that when you’re straight?" was the reply. Why do I do that, I thought?!

In my reply, I explained that when my husband and I walk down the street holding hands, no one bats an eye lid. When two women or two men walk down the street holding hands, however, they may get looked at, pointed at, stared at, verbally abused or even physically attacked. If you’re trans, you will be extra vigilant about being able to be you most days. A mixed sex couple would simply be assumed to be straight when either partner may be any sexual orientation. Many LGBT+ people have to consider very carefully in what environments they even choose to hold hands – it’s an active decision – not something they do without even thinking.

The sad part about this discussion was that the person I was talking to is a nurse; I didn’t expect this kind of response. When we continue to see the sickening reports of homophobic attacks such as those on Melania Geymonat and her partner Chris, it is quite clear there is a lot we need to do to educate people on what it’s like to be LGBT+. So that’s why I, as a straight ally, will do everything I can to keep highlighting the inequalities and the real challenges that are there every day, for someone to go about their normal daily business, simply because they are LGBT+.

It is so empowering when a person champions the rights of those groups to which they do not belong. I will champion all genders and all sexual orientations because I want to make policing a more attractive place to be for LGBT+ colleagues; I want my colleagues to understand that many of our colleagues will fall under the trans umbrella and I want them to understand what that means, to dispel myths, explore prejudices and make our workplaces more inclusive. I want our straight colleagues to understand the challenges of being LGBT+ and also the huge positives of LGBT+ people in our organisation. If we achieve this, our workplaces and our communities will be a better, more vibrant, more inclusive places and our communities, in turn, will get a better service from us.

So we are in the midst of Pride season. I have been an LGBT+ ally for many years, but if I look back some years and consider Pride, I never thought it was an event I should be at. Why? Because I’m not gay, and I thought people would look at me thinking "why is she here?" I couldn’t have been further from the truth and I feel much more enlightened now. So, why is it important for me and other straight allies to be at Pride? There are many reasons:

  • Our LGBT+ colleagues see that they have visible support and allies, and that the organisation has the will to be inclusive
  • Attendance by senior officers and allies implies permission to be yourself
  • It shows that we want to listen and make things better – it supports and enhances good communication and dialogue
  • It educates and improves understanding of what it’s like to be LGBT+
  • It shows our communities that as an organisation we are inclusive and it should attract more diversity in those who are applying to join us.

Why is it important for our LGBT+ colleagues to be at Pride?

  • By giving our support, it gives staff greater confidence to be out about who they are and to be themselves. So many people tell me that it took a long time for them to be out in work (and of course we have many colleagues who have still to come out). This gives visible support to those who may not be out yet.
  • We are supporting our staff to be part of their community and help us attract others to join us.
  • Because for many days throughout the year, perhaps they are unable to be themselves and this is their moment to celebrate being their true selves surrounded by like-minded people

Over the next few months, there are Pride events going on every weekend. As Dan Ivey put in his blog recently, thankfully there is no need for a straight Pride, but there is still a need for Pride. Firstly to celebrate just how far society has come regarding LGBT+ inclusion, but also to highlight how far we still need to go to improve understanding, knowledge, support, fairness and equality. This year is 50 years since the Stonewall riots, not that long ago.

So if you’re considering asking the questions, "why all the rainbows? Why the Rainbow cars? Why the need to keeping banging the drum about Pride. Why do I need to be there, I’m not gay!" Please consider what it’s like to be persecuted just because of the person you love or the person you are. People don’t choose to be gay or trans, it’s just who they are. Like everyone else, they have the right to feel comfortable and confident in work as well as when they walk down the street. Your support will be gladly received.

Deputy Chief Constable Julie Cooke is NPCC lead for LGBT+ issues.

Police Chiefs' Blog: Martin Hewitt - Chief Constables Council April 2019

AC Martin Hewitt.jpg NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt reflects on Chief Constables Council

Last week saw a key early milestone in my tenure as chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) as we held Chief Constables’ Council in Manchester. Council brings together the leadership of the service and is our senior decision-making forum.

I shared my vision for how I plan to develop the NPCC in the future and signalled some of the changes to how council will operate. I was very grateful for the support that all my colleagues gave me and I am already looking forward to making more changes when we meet again in London in July. As ever, we had a packed agenda that covered a wide range of operational and business issues. I was pleased that we had lively debates, made clear decisions and set actions for achieving them.

We began the day by reviewing and discussing feedback from the regional chiefs’ meetings on twelve papers that had been pre-circulated. I took this opportunity to share with the group my plans to deal with more business at regional level as a way of making quicker decisions and spreading business throughout the year, rather than concentrating it into the four annual Chief Constables’ Council meetings.

That session was followed by two operational briefings on pressing current issues: Chief Constable Charlie Hall and Lynne Owens, Director General of the NCA, gave an update on the law enforcement preparations for the UK’s EU exit. We felt confident that we were as ready as we could be to respond to potential challenges linked to EU exit – whether policing protest or planning for the impact of a no-deal exit.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu gave a counter terrorism update, including showing a new training video for frontline officers that helps them to spot the signs of attack planning, which has been created using real life examples and extensive research with members of the police family and colleagues from MI5. It will help in our fight against terrorism of all kinds.

The morning concluded with a good debate on the National Police Air Service (NPAS), which provides air support to all police forces for a range of incidents. The majority of chiefs agreed the operational requirements for the service subject to further work to optimise performance and determine the most appropriate charging model. This challenging work is being undertaken and taken forward on our behalf by Chief Constable Rod Hansen and will return to future Councils for further discussion.

Chief Constable Mike Barton led a very important session on a national capability model for policing based on the work that he had been developing within the crime operations committee. One of my first priorities is leading a review on how we manage our business within the NPCC and this paper was a great catalyst for a broader discussion on that work.

We then had a briefing on the newly formed National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) and fraud from Graeme Biggar, DG at the NCA, and Commander Karen Baxter from the City of London Police. Afterwards Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Tom Winsor, Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor and Karen Mellodew from Lincolnshire Police, gave a presentation on the continuing development of force management statements and their potential uses now and in the future.

A busy day concluded with input from Chief Constable Michelle Skeer who gained support from council to develop a model for allocating costs for nationally delivered services most fairly. The model will return for decision in July.

Day two had a focus on our workforce and we were joined for these discussions by Scott McPherson, Director General for the Crime, Policing and Fire group in the Home Office. The first two sessions were focused on improving equality and diversity, a priority for me in my role. The small number of women at chief constable level is not acceptable and we discussed the reasons for this and the actions necessary to address it. I will personally take on this work and you will hear more from me on this in the near future.

We then had a fascinating session led by Chief Constables Ian Hopkins and George Hamilton on the broader diversity of our workforce and how we can collectively maximise the impact of positive action. I was really pleased that contributions in both these sessions were honest and challenging and a number of colleagues shared very powerful experiences.

We concluded with a long session led by Chief Constable Matt Jukes and College of Policing Chief Executive Mike Cunningham about how we realise the ambition in Policing Vision 2025 to build a “profession with more representative workforce that will align the right skills, powers and experience to meet challenging requirements”. We discussed key building blocks – reforming initial recruitment, entry routes, progression routes and professional development – and progress towards them. We then discussed the linked changes to officer pay, which will link pay to skills and contribution so that officers and staff are rewarded fairly for the work they do. Matt has recently taken over the lead on this work. In the coming months, he is reviewing, consolidating and further consulting and communicating before moving onto financial modelling and planning how we should transition to new arrangements. Detailed recommendations will return to Council this autumn.

Finally I want to say a personal farewell to four long standing council members who will retire before we meet again in the summer. Dee Collins, George Hamilton, Jon Boutcher and Mike Barton have made an enormous contribution to policing and, as I said as we finished in Manchester, our discussions in council in the future will be poorer for their absence. I wish them all the very best for the future.

Notes to readers

We blog about the discussions and decisions at Chief Constables Council after each meeting.

Of course, there are some parts of the discussions at CCC that cannot made by public at the time of writing because relate to information that has been classified as secret.

The minutes of this meeting will be published at a later date.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog or any feedback, please get in touch. Because of the nature of the meeting and what is discussed, there may be some information requests that we cannot meet. We will always try to answer your questions as fully as we can.

Police Chiefs' Blog: New NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt

New NPCC Chair takes seat

AC Martin Hewitt.jpgToday I take up the role of chairing the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), a body that brings together the collective expertise of chief officers across the country to improve policing for the public.

I take over from Sara Thornton who has done a fantastic job in leading the NPCC from its creation through the challenges that have buffeted policing in the past four years - whether political, financial or operational. By any comparison, these have been difficult times for policing.

I know the next four years will contain their own challenges, but when I look across policing and my national partners - the associations representing our officers and staff, the College of Policing, the National Crime Agency, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, the Independent Office of Police Conduct and the Home Office - I see a shared understanding of the challenges we face and a determination to find a collective way forward. I am not naive enough to think there is a smooth or obvious path set out, but I am certain that there is a generational opportunity for police leaders to make a step-change in how we play our part in protecting the public. I am here because I want to play a central role in achieving this.

I am ambitious about what the NPCC can and should achieve. One of my first priorities will be looking with fresh eyes about what we do at the NPCC, and how we do it, so we can set our strategy for the next four years and best represent the leadership of the service.

I am straightforward and approachable in the way I operate. I will both listen and speak my mind. I will be open and accessible. I am committed to working in partnership across the whole system of policing – we are stronger and more effective that way. Over the last few weeks I have been meeting as many people as I can to start that relationship building process and I will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.

As the representative of all chief officers from across the country, be they police or staff, it is important to me that I understand their perspectives and their pressing issues. I will continue to invest in conversations that enable me to do that.

There are a number of urgent and important issues in my in-tray. Policing has been planning for the potential of a no-deal exit from the European Union for many months. At the moment, we have no firm intelligence to suggest there will be rises in crime or disorder but we are well prepared to respond to any issues that may arise. The NPCC has an important part to play in coordinating the police response to potential issues and ensuring government is informed about the threat picture – and a lot of work has gone into setting up those processes and testing and exercising.

Ensuring policing is doing everything it can to bring down serious violence remains a priority for me. Police forces are soon due to receive additional government funding, which will help us to increase our capacity to carry out targeted patrols in crime hotspots and disrupt gangs and crime groups. I will today be attending the Prime Minister’s summit at Downing Street that will explore what more the whole of society can do to tackle the terrible rise in violence that is claiming young lives.

This year there will be £970 million more for policing than the previous year – that is positive but it’s not enough to meet all the challenges that the service faces. So an important part of my role will be working with policing and crime commissioners and the Home Office to make an evidence-based case for increased investment in the forthcoming government spending review as well as developing ambitious plans to maximise every penny we have.

I am learning fast and I will continue to do so. It is a real privilege to lead the NPCC and I am genuinely excited at what we can achieve over the coming years.

CC Simon Cole reflects on his time spent as local policing committee chair

My time as local policing committee chair

I am sure that many of you realise that the President of the United States can stand for only two terms of office. I am guessing that not many know that the same structures apply to the Chair of an NPCC coordinating committee!

Simon Cole square.jpgI have chaired the NPCC Local Policing Coordination Committee for two three year terms, plus an extra year when ACPO became NPCC. The Chair of the coordinating committee is responsible for operational matters to do with local policing. Areas covered include response policing, neighbourhood policing, anti-social behaviour and homelessness, contact management, citizens in policing, and mental health. The list is not exclusive! It does sometimes seem that anything that hasn’t found a comfortable home in other coordinating committees falls towards the world of local policing. You may reflect that sounds like a policy version of what happens operationally every day?

With the College of Policing emerging during my tenure, ACPO dissolving, police and crime commissioners arriving on the scene and the development of funding streams such as the Police Transformation Fund, it really has been a time of change. That change has been made all the more pressurised by austerity. There are now some 44,000 fewer people in policing in England and Wales. As recently expressed by former NYPD Police Chief Bill Bratton:

“The crime situation in Britain has been exacerbated by drastic cuts in the size of the police forces across the country while officers are being asked to do a lot more as other social services are reduced... Budgets need to be replenished and agency size enlarged. An increase in the number of officers should relate to 'Bobbies on the Beat,' who focus on building community trust, while also dealing more effectively with issues that are creating fear and disorder.”

Under the leadership of ACC Dave Hardcastle a response policing portfolio has been established. Supported by a wide network of practitioners, Dave has been looking at what goes on in the world of response, what works, and how we ensure the wellbeing of those who go to job after job without brief moments of respite. This work has been very important and sits well alongside the leadership by CC Gavin Stephens of the Neighbourhood Policing portfolio. Gavin and his team, working with the College, drew on over 400 examples of good neighbourhood policing sent in by neighbourhood practitioners all across the country. The guidance is a sound base for what is now every force in England and Wales to pilot this work. Neighbourhood policing solves problems early before they turn into crimes and incidents, which helps reduce demand on other parts of policing, as well as supporting communities.

ACC Alan Todd has carried an enormous amount of work on the contact management portfolio. He and I have spent much time looking at the growth in 999 calls, how best to deal with 32 million 101 calls (especially when a number of them perhaps are not for the police in the first place), and the development of online options. That has seen me take the role as senior responsible officer for the Single Online Home, a policing portal that allows the public to report crime. This is currently used by ten forces. The Single Online Home also provides a place for transactions and local information. Already a number of forces are dealing with reported crime, reported road traffic incidents and even relicensing and paying for firearms licenses online.

Looking ahead we will soon need to re-contract the 101 service, and we have been working hard to try and look at how the public contact the police in the future. Anyone with teenage children will know that the idea of actually using a telephone to make a phone call on is not something that the next generation value in the way that I did growing up!

DAC Laurence Taylor has tried to identify best ways of dealing with homelessness in partnership. As those of you dealing with it day to day will know, it is a really complex issue with many of those who are homeless showing multiple complex needs. Laurence has been liaising with the government about best ways forward.

One of the big highlights of my time as chair has been the growth of the citizens in policing, which has been pushed very hard by the now retired CC Dave Jones, and continued by his successor CC Lisa Winward. The cadets, volunteers and special constables who give up so much of their own time to support us are absolutely invaluable. Recent strategies for the special constabulary and also for volunteers have been huge pieces of work and Lisa and colleagues have driven this along with real vigour. In recent months the mental health portfolio, led by CC Mark Collins, has come across to Local Policing. The day to day impact of limited access to places of safety, availability of beds and waits for ambulances have significant impact on policing. This has led to ministerial round tables, Home Office working groups, the Crisis Care Concordat, and huge local efforts to improve the partnership with health.

On occasion the discussion around local policing has been lost in noise about how many police forces there should or shouldn’t be. It seems to me that this is a pretty moribund debate, often linked to a belief in potential savings that in all likelihood have already been taken. When working as a staff officer to CC Sir Edward Crew in the mid-1990s, he regularly commented about police structures. Here we are almost a quarter of a century later and that same discussion is ongoing. In the meantime attempts to change structures have been unsuccessful, the necessity for local partnerships has grown, and the emergence of locally focused PCCs has, understandably, reinforced the localism agenda. However, that should be replicated in terms of regional capabilities, and finally national capabilities.

One of the key roles has been to liaise across forces and agencies, reaching across to government, opposition politicians and, crucially the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners. We do need to think about policing in terms of capabilities – neighbourhood policing, investigations, intelligence gathering – and agree what should be developed at national, regional and local level.

Of course what I will not miss is the Friday at half past four call from the NPCC Press Office offering me the opportunity to quote on the latest news request for the Sunday papers! Those requests have covered everything from response times through neighbourhood policing models, shining laser pens at police aircraft, through to budget cuts.

As I hand over to Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney from Hampshire Constabulary I would want to close by reflecting on the enormous hard work carried out by a huge network of people across the last seven years.

CC Sara Thornton Blog: The future of policing is in good hands

CC Sara Thornton Blog: The future of policing is in good hands

Thirty three years ago I passed out of the Police College at Hendon. Last Friday I went back as a guest of Commissioner Cressida Dick to inspect the parade and to speak to the student officers.

The College has been knocked down and rebuilt since I was there but I was pleased to see that the familiar statue of Sir Robert Peel had been moved to stand guard over the new Peel House. Just like my graduation in 1986 proud parents were taking photographs of the new police officers by the great man who founded the Met 190 years ago.

Everyone who attended on Friday will look back on the day as memorable but very wet. In fact the rain was so hard that the military band could not play and we relied on piped music which is not quite the same! As the officers marched on to the square, I was struck by how many women made up the group in this centenary of the first woman constable in the Met. Marching is not much of a requirement in modern policing but I can see why the discipline and the team work needed make the hours of practice worthwhile.

The Commissioner and I took our place at the front of the parade and after we had saluted the colour party we were invited to inspect. By this time there were monsoon conditions testing all our resilience so while we inspected, congratulated and chatted we moved briskly along the lines. I was pleased to see many more black, Asian and ethnic minority officers than in my day but I was equally struck by the fact that I met an Italian, a Lithuanian and a Romanian on the parade. And interestingly one said while they would never consider policing as a career in their home country they were proud to join the British Police.

We then went into the vast modern space of the training school and under a giant poster of Sofia Stanley, the first female Met officer, we swore the police oath. Prizes were awarded and then the speeches. It’s a great privilege to address recruits, their families and friends. It was a favourite task in Thames Valley and I always tried to give officers a sense of the great purpose in being a police officer. The Queen’s Police Medal has the words ‘Guard My People’ inscribed on it – and that is our purpose. We are guarding the Sovereign’s people - what a great thing to do with your life. It is something to remember when facing tough and challenging times.

Before he was President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was the Police Commissioner in New York and a great police reformer. He famously said that ‘it is not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.’ In becoming a police officer we go in to the arena, of course there will be critics, but we know that we have a very worthy cause.

I then had the pleasure of meeting lots of new officers and their families. I left Hendon feeling huge respect for these new recruits who have chosen to earn their living guarding their fellow citizens, in the knowledge of risks and challenges implicit in their new vocation. I also left confident the future of policing is in good hands.

Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables Council January 2019

UPDATE: A new interim Digital Processing Notice will be introduced imminently. This new notice will reflect the Court of Appeal ruling in the case of Bater-James and Mohammed. We will work with the ICO and other stakeholders on a permanent notice and associated practice that will address the ICO’s recommendations in full.

Original post from January 2019.

Last week I chaired Chief Constables' Council for the sixteenth and last time. Over the last four years the breadth and depth of business has increased significantly. We have extended the length of the national meeting by half a day and have introduced a regional tier of meetings to obtain wider feedback and to make best use of our time together. Despite this, it is an enormous challenge to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute and to get business done in the time available!

I’m not able to detail everything we covered but this blog covers some of the key issues – we also spent time on police air support, neighbourhood policing and our contact channels for the public. In addition to the presentations from chief officers, I invited several guests, including the new Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Max Hill QC. He talked to us about his early priorities – building public confidence in the CPS, getting disclosure right and ensuring fairness of trials. Several cases over the last few years have raised serious concerns about disclosure processes and there has been a significant joint response between the police and CPS. The national disclosure improvement plan launched last January by NPCC, College of Policing and CPS set out 42 changes and 40 have now been delivered.

Max rightly said there’s no such thing as a good investigation if the case file for the CPS is not up to standard, and a third of files are not currently meeting the standard when they are first presented. NPCC’s Lead for Criminal Justice, Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, urged chiefs to keep the momentum up on file quality and disclosure showing leadership on the issues in their force. The second phase of the disclosure improvement plan will be published soon and trials of technology that can help us review the enormous volumes of digital data will be starting later this year.

One of the challenges caused by digital data is the need to share it across the criminal justice system securely and efficiently. Chief Constable Giles York has led the development of a Digital Evidence Transfer Service designed to link in with new systems across agencies. Chiefs agreed that five pilot schemes should continue but the delays to new technology in other parts of the criminal justice means that broader roll out needs to be reviewed after six months.

I was pleased that John Apter, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, agreed to return to council. He last attended three years ago when he was promoting the Hampshire scheme to take assaults on police officers more seriously – a great initiative that was then adopted across the country. Last week he spoke passionately about his vision for the future and his desire to work with chiefs, which was warmly received.

Criminals are never slow to exploit the opportunities that new technology provides and so we need to develop new capabilities to catch them but also use technology to make policing more efficien

t and improve the service to the public. Police forces are relying on the Home Office to develop a new communications service for all emergency workers. Having studied the business case in detail we agreed reaffirmed the key requirements such as good coverage, the ability to communicate on the Underground, to communicate with air support and in crisis situations when there are huge levels of traffic across the network. As ever, there are concerns about the cost to police forces but there was agreement that safety and an effective system had to be prioritised. Only when all the concerns are met will chiefs be content to switch off the Airwave current system.

We reviewed the planning for the potential impact of EU exit on policing. We have established the International Crime Coordination Centre which will help forces to find alternatives to the range of EU tools, such as the European Arrest Warrant, that are currently used. The unit has recruited officers to act as single points of contact for each region and to assist forces to assess their readiness for a no deal. Chiefs were assured by the contingency planning but hoped that it would ultimately be unnecessary as the alternatives to EU tools are slower, more bureaucratic and ultimately less effective.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall is leading work to plan potential impact from delays at borders and ports, potential for protest and disorder, and civil contingencies. We have reviewed government planning assumptions and assessed the threat and risk of a range of possible scenarios, which will be kept under regular review. An intelligence unit will collect intelligence from across the country and we are planning, testing and exercising so we can respond quickly if the picture changes.

After working on proposals for several years, Chief Constable Francis Habgood led discussions on pay reform plans, which he will present to the Police Remuneration Review Body next month. Police officers do a tough job which can be dangerous, hours are often anti-social and regulations place significant restrictions on an individual’s private life. This needs to be reflected in the pay for officers. We also agreed that the approach to pay should over the longer term be reformed to move away from an emphasis on length of service to an emphasis on contribution and skill. The principles were agreed and when the submission to the Review Body is finalised it will be published. We are all keenly aware that, if these proposals are accepted, there will need to be very careful planning to ensure a smooth transition.

Lastly we had an excellent briefing from Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu on the current terrorist threat. The volume of intelligence leads and number investigations continue to be very high and the Government announcement of some additional funding to counter terrorism in the budget was very welcome.

Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt from the Metropolitan Police will chair the next Chief Constables' Council in April and he will do a great job. It is the hardest police meeting to chair but I would argue it is the most important. The British policing model is based on local forces but the need for them to work together effectively in the public interest had never been greater.

Unnecessary criminalisation of looked-after children

Supporting vulnerable children

How do we stop unnecessarily criminalising children in their own homes? Last year saw the launch of the national protocol, which will assist in doing just that.

I have been working with the Department for Education, along with many others, to develop this protocol. In the course of working in this area, I have heard many examples of the lived experience of young people that made me sad and angry. For example; not allowing access to the internet and mobiles, restricting access to food and imposing rules that do not make sense. Such living standards leave young people feeling vulnerable, alone and frustrated.CC Pinkney Bio May 2019.jpg

Fortunately, there are many outstanding children’s homes who work tirelessly to raise children with love and kindness. Children’s homes as a group are often tarred with the same brush and reported in a negative way, when the majority do an outstanding job, and love and care for children who can be challenging to love and care for. However, there are some staff who think they just have to police children, rather than parent them, and it is these placements that this protocol sets out to address.

The key principles within the protocol are to work with all care settings and partners, in order to prevent problems occurring. We are keen to make good practice, common practice. The success of the protocol will be determined by the uptake of forces imbedding it locally, in order to reduce the criminalisation of children in care. We will be monitoring uptake through the child centred policing national steering group.

So what can you do to make a difference and make sure that the behaviour of policing is not unnecessarily criminalising children for minor offences in their home? The protocol advocates the development of local partnerships aimed at preventing problems developing that result in calls to the police. Many forces have already taken this route and have a locally agreed protocol in place. This national protocol adds another layer, which means that where children travel across the country, liaison across forces can be undertaken under the umbrella of this protocol.

When we are called to attend, if a crime has been committed, we of course need to record it. However, arresting a young person from their home should be a last resort and every effort made to consider alternative outcomes.

Crucially, children tell us that the biggest difference we can make is to listen in order to make sure that their voice is heard, rather than assume that the child is at fault. Finally, we need to all continually ask “would this be what I would do, if this were my child?”.

National Policing Lead for Children and Young People, Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney

Policing is at the tipping point - and we've got to move on from here

Budget cuts and a hands-off government approach to aspects of policing have meant hard choices for chief constables with consequences for the public and our people. The public’s experience is policing that is less visible, less responsive and less proactive.

Core aspects of policing - such as answering calls, attending emergencies, investigating crime, bringing offenders to justice and neighbourhood policing - are being pushed beyond sustainability, and are in danger of becoming ineffective to the detriment of confidence in the police.

Today the Public Accounts Committee will take evidence from a range of players in policing on the financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales.

Why are we here? As the National Audit Office’s (NAO) recent report on police financial sustainability described, the Government has had a partial view of policing in the last few years. There’s been an active participation on terrorism, organised crime and protecting the most vulnerable that’s welcome. It has been a good partnership. The remaining, and overwhelmingly the biggest, areas of policing have been seen as matters for locally elected police and crime commissioners and chief constables.

This more local agenda has many positives in setting priorities but it has come with steep budget reductions and a widening mission. There has been a real term reduction of police budgets of 19 per cent since 2010, but ranging between 11- 25 per cent across forces.

Increases in the terror threat and organised crime, and growing numbers of crimes committed on the most vulnerable whether it’s domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation, honour-based violence, female genital mutilation or modern slavery mean more complex investigations and a major task in safeguarding. Almost every case has a digital footprint with subsequent investigations taking longer than ever before as officers trawl huge amounts of data.

Chiefs and commissioners have not only had to find substantial savings but redirect more resources into protecting the vulnerable. There’s been greater investment in tackling serious organised crime and terrorism with good results for our national security. All these areas of policing have improved.

But the gains we’ve made have come at a cost to perhaps the most important parts of policing for the public. Crime is rising and so is the demand on our service. The calls do not get answered as quickly as they did. Officers are not as fast at responding to emergencies and more crimes are dealt with on the phone. Fewer high volume crimes like thefts are investigated and as a result fewer offenders brought to justice. The visibility and proactivity of neighbourhood policing is much reduced.

Bluntly our ability to manage the big threats and protect the vulnerable yet still be the traditional police the public want and need is becoming ever harder. We are in danger of pursuing efficiency to the point of ineffectiveness – where we can process the work but we’re not detecting crime as we should be and not meeting public expectations.

There’s a personal cost to our officers and staff too. It knocks their resilience when their days get longer or their rest days are cancelled. Letting victims down or sharing their sense of dissatisfaction in the service they’ve received chips away at morale.

The NAO assesses the Government did not fully understand the actual impact of these cuts on police forces.

Policing is at the tipping point - and we need to move on from here. We need police and crime commissioners, chief constables and our Government to come together on a shared vision so we can grasp the opportunities technology brings and become more effective and productive.

We need to build our ability to meet the threats of tomorrow but we should not forget the very services people expect of the police. That is where they can now see and feel the stretch. Let’s not forget an accessible, responsive, visible and proactive police force on our streets not only keeps us safe but builds legitimacy and trust to manage the big threats we face. It needs investment and numbers matter.

Despite these concerns, I’m positive about policing and the future. Policing today is better in many ways than it was five, ten or twenty years ago. We’re more diverse, more accountable and more ethical. Our response to many crimes has been transformed for the better, and we keep seeking to adapt and improve. We know more change is to come. We also know with the right resources we can drive down crime and make a difference.

I am particularly optimistic that the Home Secretary and Policing Minister have listened to our concerns and the Home Office is working with us and PCCs to develop a joint evidence base for the next government spending review.

I hope we will see more money for policing as we make an evidence-based case for investment. However, it is equally important that this process results in a clear collective agreement on what policing should do in 2019, and the years beyond. Part of that equation may be jointly considering what we should not or cannot afford to do – because the public deserves to know.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Finance and Resources, Chief Constable Dave Thompson

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2018

Police chiefs gathered for a busy Chief Constables’ Council in Cardiff this week to discuss some of the most pressing issues for policing. As ever, it gave an opportunity for chiefs to get into the detail of issues affecting the police service across the country and share their experiences on the ground.

When we last met in July, the upcoming visit from U.S. President Donald Trump was fast approaching. This was a significant operation with the President visiting four force areas and protests taking place in many others.

The National Police Coordination Centre presented data from all forces to understand the full scale of the visit. Nearly every force supported the operation with nearly 10,000 officers deployed from all over the country, performing over 26,000 shifts. The full cost of the operation is still being worked out but an early estimate is nearly £18 million. All forces reported high demand at the time of the visit from the requirements of the operation as well increased demand and calls from the public linked to the World Cup and hot weather as well as numerous events and festivals. These demands affected local policing to differing degrees across the country with the host forces most impacted. The majority of forces had to cancel officers’ rest days and extend the length of their shifts. Despite the challenges, the hard work of officers and staff made sure that the public were kept safe throughout.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall presented a series of requirements for the National Police Air Service, which provides air support across police forces to help search for missing people, pursue criminals and respond to major incidents. Chiefs agreed the requirements set out, such as deploying air support based on assessments of threat, risk and harm, rapid decision-making and deployment of air support within agreed timescales and that air support should include a blend of helicopters, fixed wing planes and drones. But with police forces already stretched financially, chiefs would need to see detailed costings and proposals for funding models to meet the user requirements before committing, including options for collaborating with other agencies. This detailed business case, informed by NPAS, will be assessed in January.

A substantial part of our agenda was dominated by financial issues. Forces are currently pulling together their medium term forecasts and the Treasury announcement a few weeks ago about changes to employee pension contributions means that forces in England and Wales may need to find an extra £417 million by 2020/21. This is equivalent to nearly 10,000 officers and grave concern was expressed about further reducing the sustainability of local police forces. This matter has been raised with the Government and discussions are being held.

There was general concern about the strain that forces are currently under and the impact on core policing such as answering emergency call, investigating crime and neighbourhood policing. We are working with police and crime commissioners on developing the evidence case for increased police resources in the next spending review in 2019. There is a small dedicated team working with Home Office officials to gather the evidence on demand and resilience, efficiency and productivity, new capabilities and funding options. Chiefs were provided with an update on this work and welcomed the fact that everyone is working together to make the most compelling case possible.

As ever there was a focus on police reform and technology change. We received an update from College of Policing CEO Chief Constable Mike Cunningham on the work being undertaken to support those working in policing. There has been much confusion about whether all new police officer recruits will need to have a degree when they join. Mike assured us this was not the case but that new recruits would be able to join on an apprenticeship which over three years would lead to a degree. This recognises the fact that the work being done by officers is increasingly complex and is rightly accredited at degree level.

On technology we discussed the importance of ensuring that improving the use of digital technology will be a key part of any submission to the spending review. It is encouraging to see that two of the police-led programmes on web-site services and basic office services are proving very popular with forces with high levels of participation. Such collaboration on technology has often proved elusive but with the right services on offer it demonstrates that we can work together. Concerns were expressed about the continuing delays to the introduction of the Emergency Services Network and that this was resulting in increased costs in forces.

Chiefs also heard from Chief Constable Francis Habgood on the progress towards a new system of pay which will allow forces to reward the hard work and contribution of officers through the pay they receive. While chiefs recognised that the transition may not be easy, there was agreement that there was a need for a fairer system which both rewards serving officers and encourages new people to join the service. Plans are well advanced and consultation is taking place with staff. More detailed proposal will be brought to Council in January which Chiefs will be asked to approve for submission to the Police Pay Review Body.

Blog: CC Andy Rhodes - Protect the protectors

Protecting our officers

Over the last few weeks a number of worrying clips have surfaced showing police officers being assaulted while making arrests, or being injured in the line of duty, and receiving no help or assistance from bystanders.

Nowadays everyone has a camera to hand and many of us document our lives and share it with our friends and online communities. There is nothing to stop a member of the public taking a photo or video of a police officer, and nor should there be. There have been many instances where footage from the public has helped to solve crimes or made police forces and individual officers reflect on how a situation has been dealt with and enabled them to learn from it.

Nevertheless, these recent incidents make me uneasy because it is clear that the filming isn't being done to help the officers, but rather to glorify the assaults being committed on them. You'd be hard pushed to find another profession where members of the public would film someone being punched, kicked or spat at, while carrying out their daily duties, and others find it acceptable.

Police officers experience some of the highest levels of repeat trauma of any workforce yet they wake up every morning and do it all again. Their training, camaraderie and adrenalin helps them to do this, but also the realistic belief they have that if they are harmed we will be there to pick them up again. ‘We’ being their colleagues, the rest of the policing community and also the public. If instead they are assaulted and ridiculed by people they are ultimately trying to help, this adds a deeper dimension to an already traumatic experience. It also chips away at their confidence in the greatest strength of British policing - the relationship with the public.

We rely on the public to provide us with information, work with us, engage with us and most importantly trust and support us. These recent incidents and assaults are a relatively small number of cases amongst many more kindnesses from members of the public and examples of real bravery so officers should not feel unsafe. Nor should they feel the need to retreat from the millions of day to day informal interactions they have with the public as through these interactions they can change someone's life or capture that one piece of vital information in a case.

Imagery is powerful and it can change behaviours, for the good and the bad. We should be thinking and talking about this issue because we don't want to sleepwalk into this becoming a norm.

I think there a real difference between filming an incident because you feel the police are behaving badly, or because it's a newsworthy event, and filming a police officer who is being assaulted while trying to protect you. If you are ever in situation where a police officer is being assaulted or abused, please think about the impact of your response on them. I'm not encouraging people to be heroes or put themselves in the line of danger. But think whether there's something you could do to de-escalate the situation or call for our help or check they are ok. And phone footage shared with the police could help to build a case against the attacker. It would mean a lot to those individual officers.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Organisational Development and Wellbeing, Chief Constable Andy Rhodes

Guest Blog: Afzal Khan MP on Give A Day To Policing

Former police officer Afzal Khan MP reflects on day spent back with his local force

This article was originally posted in August 2018.

I proposed the ‘Give a Day to Policing’ scheme to the National Police Chiefs’ Council last year as a way for Parliamentarians to better understand the challenges currently facing our police forces across the UK.

As a former police officer myself, I know how difficult working on the frontline to protect our communities can be, and in my new role as a Member of Parliament, I felt it was important for my fellow MPs to step outside of Westminster and see this for themselves. We often hear and read about the challenging circumstances police can find themselves in, but seeing and experiencing this first hand gives you a real understanding of the immense pressures they come under.

Threats to public safety are not only increasing but becoming more and more complex. Police officers today aren’t just dealing with robberies, vehicle accidents, anti-social behaviour and hate crimes, but more complicated threats such as terrorism, cyber-attacks and human trafficking. Add to this eight years of cuts to frontline services and job losses across the public sector, and you can see why more and more people are turning to the police for support as other services are stripped back.

I recently spent a day back on the beat with Greater Manchester Police, giving me first hand insight into their day to day operations, and the difficulties these new threats pose to our officers. I was shocked at how much had changed since my time with GMP; a huge increase in the use of technology, fewer officers dealing with larger areas, and more multi-faceted crimes. It was immediately evident that officers today are under far more pressure than they were ten years ago. Yet whether working behind the scenes tackling cybercrime or out on the streets, officers are working hard at every level to keep our communities safe.

I hope that all MPs will take up the opportunity to ‘Give a Day to Policing’ as it offers an invaluable experience, leaving you with both a broader understanding of the new challenges our police officers face, as well as a deeper level of respect and admiration for their bravery and commitment to public safety. I am also hopeful that this scheme may eventually be expanded out into other public services, giving MPs the chance to give a day to the NHS or the Fire Service.

Public sector workers are vital to our economy, our safety and our everyday existence. By spending a day in their shoes, we can better understand the challenges they face and better represent them in Parliament.

Afzal Khan MP
Member of Parliament for Manchester Gorton
Shadow Immigration Minister

Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables Council July 2018

Police chiefs gathered in London for July Chief Constables Council at a busy time for policing across the country. The US President’s arrival was imminent and forces were working together to support the significant national operation. The operation went smoothly thanks to the gold commanders, the National Police Coordination Centre and the many officers who travelled from around the country – in many cases delaying their rest days to support the national effort.

The hot weather, football fever and England’s success – sadly as I write football hasn’t come home – had led to real spikes in emergency calls in forces with some reporting record numbers of calls. This spike is not isolated. NPCC Lead for Local Policing CC Simon Cole talked to us the growing demand on the 999 system with call volumes up around five per cent year on year. Further analysis of data for calls to police through 999 and 101 was commissioned. If you need the police, call 999 in an emergency, look at your local force website if you need information and call 101 to report crime or concerns that don’t require an emergency response.

Flexibility for PCCs to increase their council tax precept in the last government funding settlement is enabling forces to grow their budgets between 3.6 and 1.6 per cent, which is welcome but still means tough choices about priorities. We agreed how we would work with the Home Office and police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to prepare for the next government spending review. We will jointly review demand, capabilities and resources so we can provide evidence-based submission to the Treasury to inform decisions about police funding.

Chief Constables James Vaughan and Shaun Sawyer presented progress on the merger of Dorset and Devon and Cornwall Police. If approved, the merger would see one police and crime commissioner setting one police and crime plan with one chief constable, fewer chief officers and one vision and mission. The merger hopes to deliver a more efficient and effective service to the public, savings that be reinvested in local policing and technology and a more resilient and flexible force to respond to changing demands. Next steps are consultation with staff, public and stakeholders, consideration of the full business case by the PCCs and finally a referral to the Home Office for ministerial and parliamentary approval. The majority of chiefs believe a fewer number of larger forces would be more effective operationally but making this work within the system is challenging so there is great interest in this work in the South West.

We were briefed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball and National Crime Agency (NCA) Deputy Director Sue Southern on the new County Lines Coordination Centre. It will be jointly run by the NCA and NPCC and will lead our response to the criminal networks exporting drugs from our cities into smaller towns; exploiting children and vulnerable people and spreading violence as they go. Early intervention across government to tackle the root causes is absolutely crucial but so is targeted policing like this. Chiefs were also briefed about a new research centre to improve the evidence-base for police interventions to protect the most vulnerable.

Police must keep up with changes in technology because new technologies have the potential to help us prevent crime and protect people. Two forces are trialing facial recognition technology to improve policing at large events. With the Crown Prosecution Service, we have set up a group to explore how artificial intelligence and computer learning could help us sift through the vast quantities of data involved in most investigations so we can act on and disclose relevant material as early in the process as possible. But these new technologies present us with ethical challenges in ensuring we get the right balance between public safety and personal privacy. The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham talked to us about her role and priorities. Elizabeth made clear she expected to see full evaluation of new technologies, good communication with the public about their use in policing and the right safeguards and oversight.

We also spent time discussing the new Home Office biometrics strategy, which intends to extend and simplify the oversight and governance of biometrics, particularly developing technologies. We were told a new oversight and advisory board for facial images and new biometric technologies, chaired by Chief Constable Mike Barton, will meet this summer. The board will bring together all the relevant oversight commissioners, government, police chiefs and PCCs. It will take evidence from experts, set rigorous standards for reviewing trials and make policy recommendations. This is a complex area for policing with numerous oversight bodies so police chiefs welcomed further leadership from the Home Office in clarifying and simplifying the system and ensuring it works in the public interest.

Chiefs welcomed the new Director General of the Independent Office of Police Conduct, Michael Lockwood to Council. The role of the IOPC is really important for the health of policing and we were encouraged by the work that Michael was doing in focusing on priorities, reducing the time taken on investigations and developing a stronger emphasis on learning.

Notes to readers

We blog about the discussions and decisions at Chief Constables Council after each meeting.

Of course, there are some parts of the discussions at CCC that cannot made by public at the time of writing because relate to information that has been classified as secret.

The minutes of this meeting will be published at a later date.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog or any feedback, please get in touch. Because of the nature of the meeting and what is discussed, there may be some information requests that we cannot meet. We will always try to answer your questions as fully as we can.

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Constables' Council April 2018

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton - we must investigate and disclose all reasonable lines of inquiry while guarding against intrusion: Sara5 2016-2

Chief Constables’ Council was held in York last month and as ever the agenda was packed with important debates and decisions.

I wanted to focus on workforce and pay reform because we are getting to the stage where the plans developed over the last few years need to be implemented. Mike Cunningham Chief Executive at the College of Policing and Chief Constables Francis Habgood and Giles York presented the way forward and we the had a healthy debate. Mike set out what he regards as the four foundational requirements for workforce reform in all forces. The first is the introduction of a new recruitment process for officers to ensure that we have people with the right skills and values for the future. The second is the introduction of three new entry routes - apprenticeship, policing degree and degree conversion – by the beginning of 2020. The current entry training programme will expire at the end of 2019 and there are no plans to replace it so this has a degree of urgency. The third is the introduction of comprehensive personal development plans and an initiative for assessment known as ARC (assessment and recognition of competence). In order to do this there will need to be role profiles in place. These are essential building blocks for ensuring officers are paid fairly for their contribution and will help us to recognise the great work of specialist officers as we licence them to practice. Lastly we need to introduce the concept of advanced practitioners – so we are rewarding people for remaining fantastic operational officers.

This transformational plan will require forces, the College and the NPCC to work together over the next two years and there is a lot to do. In parallel with this work, Francis is pulling together the NPCC submission for the Pay Review Body in 2019. This represents a tight timescale but we are determined to consult on any proposals before they are submitted as we are aware how important this is to the staff associations whose members are concerned. Many, many chiefs joined the discussion and, while daunted by the challenge, they were broadly supportive and appreciated the clarity about priorities Mike brought to the issue. All forces agreed to assessing the maturity of their force plans and readiness for implementation.

These changes are all part of our work with police and crime commissioners on police reform and transformation. It was also good to hear from Paddy Tipping, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, who stressed the importance of working together to set out how well we are using current resources to meet demands but also where investment in policing could make the public safer and more secure. We reviewed the exciting plans for the Police ICT Company and the work that Ian Dyson is leading on delivering the digital police force by 2025. Our ambitious digital plans will clearly form a central pitch in our spending review submissions next year.

The new national lead for counter-terrorism Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu gave his first security update and chiefs also heard a fascinating briefing by the Chief of Wiltshire Kier Pritchard . Kier’s first day as chief was the day after the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury so all the well laid plans of introductory talks to staff and the local media were shelved as he led the response to what's believed to be attempted murder by the Russian State.

I had invited Bishop James Jones to brief Council directly on his report about the experiences of the Hillsborough families which was published last November. He gave a very powerful explanation of the report and its recommendations and there was a reflective and thoughtful discussion afterwards. Some of the discussion focussed on our work on building learning organisations and we have promised that we will carefully consider whether a duty of candour could work in a policing context. We also had a positive discussion on the Charter for Bereaved Families and have agreed to further consult with police and crime commissioners on its potential adoption.

Operationally we focussed on violent crime, child abuse online and firearms crime. The Home Officer Director General briefed us on the new Home Office serious violence strategy, which emphasises early intervention as well as operational responses to the significant threat posed by ‘county lines’ criminality. While there are many factors behind the recent upturn in violence across the country, as chief officers we know that effective policing can prevent harm and save lives. We are committed to collaborating with each other in order to do this.

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Dee Collins - Closing the gender pay gap

dee collinswebI’ve spent the last three decades in policing - as a uniformed officer, as a roads policing specialist, Cleveland’s first female armed response officer, and now as a chief constable. In that time I’ve seen a huge cultural shift in attitudes towards women in policing, from a culture where women were a tiny minority and were issued with a force handbag on joining, given a stockings allowance and told we were only allowed to wear trousers on nights, to one where women make up an integral and ever growing part of the service.

By the end of this month every public body in England and Wales that employs more than 250 people is expected to publish their pay gap between what men and women earn. This includes police forces in England in Wales. It’s an opportunity for us to take stock of how far we’ve come and focus our minds to how far we still have to go and how we get there.

What I’ve seen so far shows a policing gender pay gap of 8 per cent in some areas to 15 per cent in others – compared to a national average of 18 per cent. When it comes to the top paid in society, men outstrip women by 4 to 1 – and in policing there are far fewer women in senior policing positions and far more in the lowest paid roles.

This issue isn’t one about equal pay for equal work – that was made illegal in the 1970’s Equal Pay Act. Police officers have nationally agreed rates of pay based on their rank or grade – where gender is irrelevant. But there is potential for the same issues that affect other sectors to come into play in policing – the impact of unconscious bias and difference in the way women and men negotiate on our recruitment and promotion, and the way men and women balance their careers with having children, including the influence of their employer as they make those decisions.

Particular to policing is the way certain specialisms receive pay supplements – such as for armed policing or public order – and these areas are still heavily male dominated. Other roles also involve unsociable hours that conflict with family commitments and can limit women’s career progression.

There’s also a big difference in the gap between police officers and staff – partly because of the high proportion of officers that are men and a high proportion of staff that are women, and because, while officers’ terms and conditions are set nationally, staff conditions are set by their local force and can vary across the country.

From a service that has in the past been portrayed as male dominated and masculine, we’ve seen a sea change and today some the UK’s most high profile senior police officers are women, such as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Director General of the National Crime Agency Lynne Owens and National Police Chiefs’ Council Chair Sara Thornton, with women now making up 30 per cent of senior police officers. But clearly we need to be enabling more women to fulfil their careers in policing.

Research shows that organisations with greater diversity perform better than those who do not, especially when this diversity is represented at all levels, including in the most senior positions. As a public service it’s particularly important for us to be representative.

There are no quick and easy fixes for society, and the same applies to us. We are on the right road but it is going to take a lot of hard work over a long period of time to reduce this gap.

We’re seeing positive steps, such as forces ensuring strong and visible female role models in senior positions; coaching and mentoring schemes; strong policies to deal with sexual harassment at work; more flexible working to help with work-life balance; reviewing exit interviews to identify and act on trends; encouraging more women to take on specialist roles like investigations or armed policing; weeding out unconscious bias in promotion and recruitment processes and reverse mentoring where male managers are mentored by junior female colleagues.

I’m confident that women joining policing now find a far more diverse and inclusive environment than I did, and that women joining in ten years’ time will find it better still, with even more women at every level. That diversity will not only make us a better service to work for, but will make us a better service to the public that we serve.

National Police Chief’s Council lead for Gender, Chief Constable Dee Collins

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Chief Officers' Day - March 2018

On Wednesday, we held a one day conference for chief officers of all ranks in London. With the aim of ensuring that attendees were briefed on national issues, this conference was designed to enable colleagues to work together more effectively.

We discussed our joint approach to improving the welfare of our staff, the latest technology available to forces and our plans for greater investment in tackling serious organised crime. We were also joined by the Minister for Policing, the new Chief Executive Officer of the College of Policing, Mike Cunningham, and by senior Met officers who gave a briefing on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

Chief Constable Andy Rhodes explained the work that is being done as part of a Police Transformation Fund grant to improve officer welfare. Along with a very good website which gives help and advice, a number of pilots are being run in forces to test what will make an effective difference. Policing can be extremely stressful and pressurised - we need to look after our staff and protect them from harm as much we can while acknowledging that many policing roles do expose officers to danger.

Following this, we watched demonstrations of new technology which will help police forces to protect the public and provide a better service. As part of the police-led programme on digital policing, Thames Valley and Hampshire have worked with the Met to develop a new platform for public contact which can meet the needs of all forces. Each force website will retain its distinctive force identity but we will have common ways for the public to report crime or traffic incidents. The Met is already taking reports of over ten per cent of crimes online and in Thames Valley and Hampshire they have found that in the first few weeks over 30 per cent of traffic collisions are being reported online - much more convenient for the public and more efficient for police forces. All who saw the demonstrations were enthusiastic and keen to sign up.

We also looked at three Home Office led programmes: a new platform for biometric data (primarily DNA and fingerprints), a better national database for child abuse images and a new national automatic number plate recognition system. These three systems will all make working across force borders so much easier and ensure that information about offences and offenders can be shared.

The Policing Minister spoke passionately about developing digital technology for policing - he was preaching to the converted among chief officers. We need continuing support from the Home Office for the plans we have as part of the digital policing programme and our intention to introduce common software and storage arrangements so that we can share information more easily.

For several years we have warned about the growing threat from serious organised crime. Now, thanks in part to the television series McMafia, there is a growing awareness of a small number of ruthless criminals who will exploit any opportunity to make money trafficking people, drugs or firearms and defrauding, or attempting to defraud, the public of billions of pounds.

We have developed a good plan with the National Crime Agency to build intelligence capability and to further increase expertise in child abuse investigation, cyber crime and economic crime. Chief Constable Andy Cooke and Deputy Director General (Capability) of the National Crime Agency, Nina Cope, set out the proposals. For the next two years these initiatives will be funded by the Police Transformation Fund so we need to ensure that we have built the most compelling case for more national funding before the next spending review. Serious organised crime is a national security threat and the funding needs to reflect that.

Lastly, Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave gave an update on progress on the disclosure improvement plan. Great effort is being made across the country to get this right and to ensure that officers are both equipped with a clear understanding of their responsibilities under the law and have access to the best training and tools.

The next chief officer briefing will be outside London in the autumn.

National Police Chiefs' Council Chair Sara Thornton

Police Chiefs' blog: CC Sara Thornton on Disclosure - February 2018

UPDATE: A new interim Digital Processing Notice will be introduced imminently. This new notice will reflect the Court of Appeal ruling in the case of Bater-James and Mohammed. We will work with the ICO and other stakeholders on a permanent notice and associated practice that will address the ICO’s recommendations in full.

Original post from 2018

The acquittal of a 17 year-old for rape and the collapsed trial of Christopher Penniall revealed further failures of disclosure, and they reinforce how critical it is we address the problem, particularly when police recorded crime shows a rise of 23 per cent in sexual offences and the Crime Survey of England and Wales tells us one in five women has been sexually assaulted.

We swear an oath when we become a police officer - to always act with fairness and impartiality. That principle must be at the heart of our investigations, and is absolutely connected to the Attorney General’s guidance that sets out police officers’ duty to pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry – those that lead towards the suspect and those that lead away.

In recent months we have been working with Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to address the flaws in recent cases, and we now have a good joint plan that we’re all behind. It’s become clear that the key is identifying the reasonable lines of inquiry early with the CPS, and if it at all possible with the defence, which then guides what needs to be disclosed. This addresses the cultural problem, set out by our disclosure lead Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, where officers see disclosure as an administrative task at the end of the process rather than being integral from the beginning.

Investigation and appropriate disclosure is as old as policing but we are challenged by sheer volume of data we all hold in 2018, and therefore the many, many more potential lines of inquiry. So, we must cooperate, acting with fairness and impartiality, and this might mean practical conversations with complainants and suspects at the start of the process to ask them “is there anything in your phone that’s relevant to the case?”

In the desire to solve this issue, we must guard against going beyond reasonable lines of inquiry. We cannot allow people to be put off reporting to us because they fear intrusion into their lives and private information that’s not relevant to the crime being shared in court –the digital equivalent of the tired trope of women in short skirts “asking for it." This is why the idea of handing all the unused material to the defence won’t work – it would go beyond what is reasonable and proportionate.

Getting this right means we are asking investigators to do more at a time when we have a shortage of detectives and many other complex demands. We must be honest that this may slow investigations in the short term and forces will have to consider moving resources - as the Metropolitan Commissioner Cressida Dick said last week.

Longer term, if technology is the challenge, it’s also got to be part of the solution. So with the CPS we have set up a group to explore the clever tech that could help us – whether it’s machine learning or artificial intelligence.

New technology, adequate numbers of investigators, effective joint working with prosecutors and the right mind-set all need to be part of our response to recent failed cases. The integrity of the criminal justice system depends upon us making improvements.

National Police Chief’s Council Chair Sara Thornton

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Anthony Bangham - Road enforcement must be proportionate

The focus on the one mph issue has detracted from the real point I wanted to make - drivers shouldn’t just assume they’ve got a free pass to drive over the limit.

Comments I made last week have led to a perception that the police are going to be pursuing and prosecuting drivers just one mph over the speed limit. That is not the case and was never advocated - and I now need to clear up the misunderstanding.

Firstly, the background. Last week I spoke at the national roads policing conference, which brings together police officers specialising in roads policing to discuss and debate issues, joined by media colleagues.

Everyone at the conference was concerned that we are seeing an increase in deaths and injuries. On average five people are killed and 66 seriously injured every day in road traffic collisions.

Part of my role as the national police lead for roads policing is to strive for ways of reducing those numbers and making our roads safer, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

In that context, at the conference I was asked about speed limits and the so-called ‘buffer zone’, which has developed over time and means the public expect that they are given a leeway of 10 per cent plus two mph over the limit.

I said we should be clearer with the public that the limit is set for a reason and you can be stopped and action taken against you when you are over it.

The logical conclusion of that argument, and the way it has been widely reported, is that we’re going after people just one mph over the limit. I now want to be clearer on this point – our aim is not to be pursuing drivers one mph over the speed limit and putting them through the courts. This would not be proportionate or achievable.

Police enforcement is always intelligence-led, proportionate and applied with common sense. The focus on the one mph issue has detracted from the real point I wanted to make - drivers shouldn’t just assume they’ve got a free pass to drive over the limit. The limit is the limit.

Officers have discretion to act based on the circumstances. There may well be occasions where someone is speeding a couple of miles over the speed limit outside a school and an officer could reasonably decide it is proportionate to stop them.

Our priority for action is always going to be the most dangerous drivers but the reality is many drivers now routinely drive above the speed limit. Of course common sense must be applied, but there should not be a 'comfort zone' over the speed limit where it is considered safe to speed. The limit is the limit for a reason.

I speak not from a desire to punish drivers but to fulfil our responsibility for helping to keep roads safe. Deaths and injuries on the road ruin the lives of victims, their families and friends and we see this every day. As police officers it's important that we are not apologetic for enforcing laws that are there to keep us all safe.

Police Chiefs Blog: CC Nick Ephgrave - changing the culture on disclosure

UPDATE: A new interim Digital Processing Notice will be introduced imminently. This new notice will reflect the Court of Appeal ruling in the case of Bater-James and Mohammed. We will work with the ICO and other stakeholders on a permanent notice and associated practice that will address the ICO’s recommendations in full.

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Every investigation is a search for truth. That means following all leads and examining all evidence – with objectivity and impartiality. It also means disclosing any of the material gathered in that search that may undermine the prosecution or help the defence. The cases of Liam Allan and Issac Itiary demonstrate the devastating consequences of not doing so.

Over the last six months, police and the Crown Prosecution Service have been looking in depth at disclosure failings and, last week, the Director for Public Prosecutions led a seminar with police chiefs and the judiciary to discuss why they are happening and what we need to do across the system to improve.

Disclosure is the release of material gathered during an investigation that is not relied upon by the prosecution but which may be relevant to the case. The prosecution team and police have a duty to review this unused material and determine whether there’s anything in it that undermines their case or supports the defence. Anything that does so must be disclosed to the defence team, with everything else listed on a schedule. Simple - at least in theory, so why has there been such difficulty in getting this right?

We have had a cultural problem with disclosure where it is too often seen by police officers as a thing to be done at the end of an investigation - becoming subsequent to rather than integral to the investigation. Changing this mindset is an immediate challenge for us.

But the world has changed enormously in the twenty years since the legislation that sets out the duty to disclose was drafted. A typical investigation today will involve the seizure of several digital devices - phones, tablets or computers. The average smartphone contains huge amounts of communications data including messages, photographs and video as well as a record of web browsing and communication on social media and apps. A conservative estimate equates this to around 30, 000 pages of A4 paper. The issue facing the investigator, then, is how can one realistically review and document all of that, especially when they may have seized a number of devices?

Firstly, we've got to address the mindset. Reports from criminal justice inspectorates and by Richard Horwell QC make clear there is a general lack of understanding about disclosure. The College of Policing is reviewing what is needed from training and guidance to make it effective on disclosure. It is also about leadership – we need every force to have a chief officer responsible for disclosure to lead improvements and ensure supervisors and managers understand and fulfil their responsibilities. This must be backed up by robust oversight to check forces are complying with agreed standards including regular dip sampling to test cases.

Secondly, we’ve got to ensure our processes work for modern day and future disclosure, not for days gone by. There are difficult choices to make here. We’ve considered going as far as providing defence teams with all the material, unreviewed, so they can decide if any of it assists their case. It is superficially attractive but does not survive scrutiny. Firstly, no prosecutor worth their salt will provide volumes of material to the defence that they have not themselves viewed, for very good reason –it allows for the unscrupulous to manipulate and ambush the prosecution to delay or avoid justice. Secondly, there are very real issues about providing personal, often sensitive, information to third parties as it will almost certainly impinge upon the privacy of persons unconnected with the investigation.

Instead, we think the solution is tied to that search for truth and ensuring that investigators are consistently identifying and pursuing all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether they exonerate the suspect or build a case against them. This then acts as a clear guide to investigators that they must disclose any information that relates to these lines of enquiry but they do not have to review irrelevant material. This approach is in line with Attorney General’s guidance on disclosure. The trick is in defining what’s reasonable and equipping all investigators to make that judgement – this is where we are now concentrating.

Longer term we must also must pursue how technology, particularly artificial intelligence, can help us deal with the expanse of digital material more quickly and efficiently.

Disclosure is top of the agenda today at Chief Constables Council, where I'll present our action plan with the Director of Public Prosecutions. By the end of the month, we will publish the finalised plan for driving improvements with ambitious timescales because we want to do all we can, as quickly as we can, to get disclosure right.

Chief Constable Nick Ephgrave, NPCC Lead for Criminal Justice

Police Chiefs Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2018

As you would expect, failings of disclosure were at the top of agenda for this Chief Constables Council. Our criminal justice lead CC Nick Ephgrave and the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders presented an improvement plan across leadership, training, processes and technology. It was clear this a moment for us to lead meaningful changes to deal with a complex and deep-rooted issue; there was commitment from all to make that happen. You find the joint action plan here.

Alison Saunders also led a discussion with Louisa Rolfe, our lead on domestic abuse, on why referrals for domestic abuse have dipped in recent years. Reporting is up and police recorded 10 per cent more offences in 2016/17 than the previous year but referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have fallen by 6 per cent in the same period. Analysis so far suggests there’s no consistent reason for falls. Forces will be looking at their local picture as they update their domestic abuse action plans by April 2018. Some forces had found joint panels with the CPS scrutinising cases against referral criteria successful in boosting referrals.

We spent some time discussing local policing. Chiefs reviewed a new set of neighbourhood policing guidelines developed by College of Policing and the NPCC lead for neighbourhood policing DCC Gavin Stephens working with colleagues and experts across the service. They don’t cover structures or resources as these are matters for chief constables and police and crime commissioners, but they do provide an evidence base, supported with practical examples, to help modernise neighbourhood policing and get the best from local investment. The guidelines are out for consultation before being published in April.

We next heard about work to give a greater voice to our response officers and recognise the value of what they do. ACC Dave Hardcastle has set up a practitioners group for response policing – these are first responders to calls for help from the public dealing with domestic abuse, missing people, people in crisis, violence and even terror attacks. There are 31,000 response officers in England and Wales making up 14 per cent of policing. The new group will ensure response officers have a say in the policies that affect their roles, work with the College of Policing to define and accredit their skills and experience, and ensure they have the right support to help them cope with complex, draining roles.

Director General of Immigration Enforcement, Hugh Ind talked to us about the overlap with his work and ours. An important part of immigration enforcement is tackling the links to organised crime, terrorism and individual offenders within the illegal population – and he told us that they had deported over 6,300 foreign national offenders and disrupted 370 organised crime groups last year.

As well as operational issues, we focused on some of our key relationships and the technology and infrastructure that supports our business. Chiefs viewed demonstrations of technology transformation programmes – like the developing platform for the public to report crime or ask questions consistently wherever they are in the country or enhancements to Child Abuse Images Database.

The new Permanent Secretary at the Home Office Sir Philip Rutnam and the new Chief Executive of the College of Policing Mike Cunningham, both hugely important partners for us, joined us to talk to about shared issues and priorities, and chiefs were pleased to welcome both.

We also invited members of the Crime Reporters Association to join us for a session at Council for the first time. The public benefits from open and transparent professional relationships between our officers and staff at all levels and the media. It is important that chief officers set the tone and ensure that their officers and staff understand the College of Policing’s Media Relations Authorised Professional Practice which supports them in that engagement.

CC Gareth Morgan, our chief officer lead for communications and media issues, assesses the relationship between police and media is routinely positive with regular, professional engagement and I agree. But the 24 hour news cycle, resource constraints and the growth of social and digital media and citizen journalism present challenges as well as opportunities for both the police and the media. It’s important that we maintain a dialogue to work through issues as we did in this session.

Guest Blog: Programme Director Jo Ashworth on Transforming Forensics

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Programme Director for the Transforming Forensics Programme, Jo Ashworth shares her thoughts on the challenges ahead for 2018.

A new year inevitably presents new challenges, but also new opportunities. That is exactly where we find ourselves on the Transforming Forensics Programme.

For many, police forensics conjures up images of men and women in white suits dusting for prints and swabbing for DNA. Although this remains the bread and butter of the role, the unprecedented pace and change of technology, and ever shifting policing landscape has changed this area of law enforcement almost unrecognisably in the last decade.

Simply keeping up with new techniques, new technology and new types of crime is a tough enough task. Despite the excellent and creative work of forensic leaders throughout the police service, staying one step ahead of that change is only aspirational at the moment. And in there lie the ambitions of the Transforming Forensics Programme.

Having worked in the forensic arena for 30 years I have seen the first-rate work done to support investigations at every level. But, quality, performance and productivity vary and too often innovations developed in one force are not exploited across the piece. The system itself is fragmented with limited oversight and this presents a real risk to forensic services.

We must be bold and imaginative in how we meet these challenges. In the last nine months we have been working with experts in the service to set about that task, because transformational change requires the investment of all those involved and a willingness to want to change. Only then can we realise our collective vision.

In April last year the Transforming Forensics Programme set about outlining how we could meet this challenge. Through all the meetings, phone calls, briefings and presentations the team and I have delivered to date it’s clear that the willingness exists at every level. The feedback, ideas and honest conversations have helped us develop an idea into a vision, one of self-reform that builds on the capabilities that already exist but which will deliver these in a consistent, sustainable way.

There is an operational and political will to reform policing and we must make the most of this once in a generation opportunity. We can set a blueprint that allows the unknown changes of tomorrow to be tackled effectively in a framework we develop.

We are now on the next phase of our journey and this month alone will see key decisions made on our direction of travel. Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will further hear our outline plans for reform at their general meetings. We will share a detailed Business Case with police leaders, and underlying this all, the Police Reform and Transformation Board (PRTB) will make a decision on funding for the programme for the next two years.

Even reaching this far on our journey would not have been possible without the co-operation of experts in this field to develop an idea into reality. If shared by all, the coming year will be full of challenges, but challenges that we can overcome together and realise the opportunities that exist to help improve policing for our communities in years and decades to come.

Jo Ashworth, Programme Director for Transforming Forensics Programme

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Shaun Sawyer on Modern Slavery

The inhumanity demonstrated by the perpetrators of modern slavery and human trafficking is far greater than I have seen in my entire career tackling organised crime and terrorism. The human cost in stolen lives and stolen futures is high.

Modern slavery and human trafficking is an incredibly complex crime to unravel and across all our law enforcement agencies many dedicated investigators are tenacious in their pursuit of those who exploit others in this way. Recent prosecutions by forces have seen cases put together by officers without relying on victim testimony, some involving victims who have been enslaved for decades.

The problem of modern slavery is not something that policing can overcome alone. It is a global issue and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (

In their report on modern slavery and human trafficking, HMICFRS have acknowledged how challenging this crime is and that the policing response is developing at pace. They also highlight how the police service needs to improve the support we give to victims and ensure that our investigations are consistent.

I agree and working with partners we will focus relentlessly on developing our approach.

I do not underestimate the policing challenge ahead of us.

However, we have already made a good start. The Director General of the National Crime Agency has established a clear framework through which law enforcement agencies are working ever more closely together. HMICFRS’s report references our efforts, working closely with Caroline Haughey, to identify how policing could improve. With the support of the Home Secretary a £8.5 million transformation programme was launched last November to fill the gaps that had been identified.

As HMICFRS’s inspection period ended in April, specialist teams dedicated to making sure each police investigation can be better than the last came into operation. Innovative new intelligence capabilities have been established in partnership with National Crime Agency, Border Force, GLAA, HMRC and Immigration Enforcement. A number of projects began which correlate with the recommendations being made today.

The National Transformation Programme which Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall’s PCC and I have established, has begun to deliver accredited training for police officers. That training focusses on identifying and supporting victims alongside enhanced investigative techniques. This has already had a positive impact and equips police with the specialist knowledge and skills that they need.

Victims must be at the heart of our law enforcement response and I echo comments made by Will Kerr, Director of the NCA’s Vulnerabilities Command in welcoming the victim-centred approach of HMICFRS report: “We are confident that the recently announced improvements to the NRM, on which we have been working closely with the Home Office, will improve the identification and safeguarding of potential victims of trafficking.”

As we improve our approach, our operational results improve too. Across England and Wales there are currently over 400 active investigations, an increase of 218% since November 2016. This is just over four times as many as when the Modern Slavery Act was launched and 85% of these investigations are led by the police. Almost 2,500 modern slavery crimes were recorded in the first six months of 2017; a 129% increase on the previous year.

The National Anti-Slavery and Trafficking Network led by West Yorkshire PCC Mark Burns-Williamson is assisting Police and Crime Commissioners to focus their efforts on uncovering and ending slavery within their communities.

Supported by local anti-slavery partnerships, there is growing public consciousness about the reality of slavery: the number of events that happened last week to reflect anti-slavery day are testament to that. To eradicate slavery, people across the UK should begin difficult conversations within their communities about the demand for cheap goods and services which fuels slavery here and across the world.

I ask the public to contact the police or the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 when they are uncomfortable or believe a person may be at risk.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, NPCC Lead for Modern Slavery

Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Police funding: do we have the resources we need?

This time last week, commuters travelling on the tube through Parsons Green suffered a terrifying explosion and fire. It was the fifth terror attack in the UK in six months.

Thankfully no one lost their lives but many will be left with scars - physical and mental. The tube network stayed open and Londoners went about their business, rightly refusing to let terrorists interrupt their weekend.

Once again we saw our police officers and staff, with other emergency services, respond with skill and bravery - many working long hours playing their part in the substantial security effort.

Met officers were on the scene within four minutes. As the threat level moved to ‘critical’, forces around the country responded with well-practiced plans and put thousands of extra officers on patrol to protect and reassure. The investigation moved at pace enabling the threat level to be brought down by Sunday afternoon.

I am proud of that response – and hugely grateful to everyone involved in it. This was a highly visible demonstration of how police forces can pool and draw on their resources to respond and investigate at speed. And as the Home Secretary said on Andrew Marr Show last Sunday, the Met had the resources they needed for that investigation.

In response to this significant threat, the Government is increasing the money it spends on terrorism from 11.7 to 15.1 billion but only about £700 million per annum is spent on policing. And the allocation of this budget for policing is set to be cut by 7.2 per cent in the next three years. When the volume and nature of threat is growing alarmingly, that is a real concern.

But the size of the counter terrorism budget is not the whole story. We don’t counter terrorism in isolation. An effective effort relies on the whole policing system. Every time there’s a terror attack, we mobilise specialist officers and staff to respond but the majority of the officers and staff responding come from mainstream policing. This puts extra strain on an already stretched service.

In the response to the Manchester attack, three quarters of the resources deployed came from mainstream policing. This disrupts the daily work of policing on which the public rely, it creates backlogs of incidents in our control rooms and results in a slower response to the public.

With officer numbers at 1985 levels, crime up 10 per cent in the last year and police work becoming ever more complex, this additional pressure is not sustainable. The current flat cash settlement for forces announced in 2015 is no longer enough.

An effective response to an attack is just one part of our counter terrorism effort. And it will never be as good as preventing them in the first place. We’re particularly concerned about the resilience of local neighbourhood policing. Fewer officers and Police Community Support Officers will cut off the intelligence that is so crucial to preventing attacks. Withdrawal from communities risks undermining their trust in us, at a time when we need people to have the confidence to share information with us.

Police chiefs will do all they can to protect the public from terrorism. We will make choices about what we prioritise and where we invest. Some of these choices may be difficult and unpalatable to the public but we can make them if necessary. Over time we can reduce the demand on us – we are doing this by improving our technology and working with partners to intervene early to protect people from harm. I am sure that we can make further efficiency savings on top of the 1.5 billion delivered since 2010.

Experts tell us that the spate of attacks in the UK and Europe are a shift not a spike in the threat, which will take 20 or 30 years to eliminate. This new normality necessitates an open minded dialogue with Government about how we respond; and our resources have got to be part of the conversation.

Cmdr Matt Twist: Use of force data is a great step forward for for transparency

Police are charged with maintaining order and keeping people safe. In fulfilling those duties, they will sometimes need to use force on behalf of the state to protect the public and themselves form harm.

From this summer, police forces will be regularly publishing data on their officers’ use of force - whether that is a form of restraint, handcuffing, use of a Taser or irritant spray.

I hope that having this data publically available will strengthen the vital relationship between the police and the public that is at the heart of our model of policing by consent. It will also inform decisions about which tactics and equipment are most effective and enable us to put incidents into context.

As several forces have already published their data and more will over August, I wanted answer some of the most common questions I’m asked.

Firstly why are we doing it?

Put simply, because the public have a right to know. While most people understand why police have to use force sometimes to keep people safe, I think they also expect that we collect and analyse that information about how it is used – and that we make that available to them.

Police officers walk towards danger when others walk away, thinking and acting quickly to keep people safe. This data will give insight into what being a police officer involves and the challenges they deal with on society’s behalf, including providing numbers on how many officers are assaulted in the course of their duties.

Officers are trained to use to force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary. This data will help us ensure that this is the case, and that our training, tactics and equipment are fit for purpose. Together with body worn video, it should also show the thousands of cases where a use of force deescalates a situation and protects the public.

What data is captured?

Deciding what to record has been complex. For example, in the vast majority of cases handcuffing is compliant, however, it is still a use of force and officers need to account for it. Equally in a public order situation, officers won’t be able to record every push or restraint that they use against a large crowd so they will need to offer their best estimate of events.

We have decided that to give a full picture we need to collect and publish all instances of handcuffing; restraint such as applying pressure to pressure points, a push or a strike; use of police dogs; use of baton; irritant spray; limb and body restraints; spit guard; shield; Taser; attenuating energy projectiles (AEPs) - more commonly known as rubber bullets ; and firearms.

How is this data collected and published?

Police officers have always held information about how and why they used force in a particular situation but this was contained in evidence notes rather than a consistent, formal procedure across all forces.

We have now provided forces with a template form, which has been designed to collect the right information without being unduly bureaucratic for officers. The form consolidates other additional forms of monitoring, such as Taser recording.

In my own force, we have developed a computer based e-form that officers can use to complete the form, aiming for a ‘gold standard’ of about two to three minutes to complete for the average incident, which can also be done on the go. I know other forces have similar approaches and the process of recording can be very quick.

At Chief Constables Council in January, forces agreed to publish data on their websites quarterly as well as providing it to the Home Office annual data requirement. It is for individual forces to determine how best they present that data to their communities.

What analysis will be available?

We’ve engaged experts from the College of Policing, Home Office, Exeter University and UCL to do in-depth analysis once we have a full year’s worth of data.

Recording and publishing all of this data is a significant change for forces. They use a range of recording systems and are starting from different baselines. This means that there will be data gaps for at least the first year and comparisons between forces are likely to be unreliable, unfair and misleading. It will not be accurate to simply aggregate force data returns for a national picture due to inconsistencies in the early stages and lack of baseline data to compare with. It will probably take a number of years before accurate, meaningful conclusions can be confidently drawn.

When I spoke to national journalists about this project recently, they quizzed me on why we haven’t mandated forces to publish at the same time in exactly the same way to make it easier to interpret and why we haven’t delayed publication until we have national analysis. Ultimately, it’s because we chose to get local data out to communities quickly rather waiting for 12 months to see that data along with a national picture. This way we can monitor how forces progress over the first year and address any areas for improvement as we go.

This is the first phase of a complex project. There have been challenges and there are caveats about how the data can be interpreted. But this is also a real step forward in in police transparency.

We will be working hard to improve the quality and consistency of the data and derive meaning from it that will help us improve the way we police.

Commander Matt Twist, NPCC Lead for Restraint and Self-defence

Forces that have so far indicated they have published their data: Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, British Transport Police, Thames Valley Police, Hampshire, South Wales, Nottinghamshire, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan Police, North Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2017

Chiefs from across the country travelled to South Buckinghamshire for our quarterly meeting of Chief Constables' Council. We were joined by Chief Richard Smith from the USA, the Vice President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and Cyprus Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou. Both talked about their policing challenges. There are differences between our policing models but whether it be tackling terrorism, handling the interplay between policing and politics or working to build police legitimacy, we have much in common and there are opportunities to learn from each other.

Terrorism and security were at the top of our agenda. Our lead for counter terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, talked to us about the threat, which is becoming more diverse. The evidence is pointing to the increased tempo of terrorist activity as a shift rather than spike - we can no longer regard individual terror attacks as part of some short-term surge. Our specialist counterterrorist units provide the cornerstone of our response, not the whole building. That means we have to ensure that the whole of policing is playing its part in fighting terrorism, with neighbourhood police officers building relationships with communities and gathering vital intelligence.

We then discussed the role of armed police in responding to terror attacks. Colleagues emphasised the importance of continuing to be a routinely unarmed service which adheres to the principle of minimal use of force. But in light of the increasing threat of terrorism, we need to review our ability to protect the public and protect our officers and staff. Colleagues agreed to a review of the level of armed response we can provide to incidents which will examine, amongst other issues, the number of armed officers, the availability of armed response vehicles and the deployment of CEDs.

We also supported work being undertaken by the College of Policing to explore how suitably trained probationers and Specials could carry Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs). The Home Secretary would have to approve any such decision.

Alex Marshall, the outgoing CEO of the College of Policing, made the case for investing in professional development. While colleagues are generally supportive of the Police Education Qualifications Framework there were concerns about the impact on forces and whether the implementation plans for all newly appointed superintendents or chief officers to have a masters degree by 2022 were achievable. It was clear that there are emerging plans in many forces to introduce higher level apprenticeships as a route into policing.

We also need to ensure we get the best people from diverse backgrounds into the top jobs in policing. Asssitant Commissioner Helen Ball, currently at the College of Policing, discussed her recent review of the assessment and training of chief officers. Work to encourage underrepresented groups to apply had led to 97 per cent of those approached they saying they would consider applying when they previously wouldn’t. Really good news that shows that reaching out to talented people works.

Investing in our people isn't just about developing their professional skills, it's about supporting them to deal with the pressures, strains and sometimes trauma that is part of the job. Representatives from both the Superintendents’ Association and Police Federation gave presentations on the recent personal resilience surveys they’ve done with their members. Their surveys showed that officers are battling with increasing demands and pressures which can have a detrimental effect on their health and work-life balance. Amongst other suggestions, the Police Superintendents’ Association recommended that every force should have a system for accurately recording and monitoring hours while ensuring that sufficient training is available along with annual health checks. The Police Federation asked for all chiefs to attend workshops to discuss possible ways forward. There was commitment across the board to work with the staff associations to deal with issues and much appreciation for the thorough data they had provided.

Blog: CC Sara Thornton - We need to talk about wellbeing in policing

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If we want our officers and staff to function at their best, they must get the support they need from police leaders on mental health, welfare, and wellbeing.

Last night I attended the annual Police Bravery Awards and celebrated officers who have performed extraordinary acts in the line of duty.

The men and women who put their lives in danger to protect us deserve more than praise alone. We have to concentrate on how action in the line of duty affects them, their families, and their ability to continue to do their job. We have to do more than demonstrate our pride in the emergency services in times of crisis. So it is time to talk more widely about wellbeing and welfare of police officers.

I spoke to officers about this at the Police Federation conference in May and yesterday at Chief Constables Council representatives from the Police Federation and the Superintendents Association came and presented the findings of resilience surveys from their members.

The quality of policing depends almost exclusively on the quality of the people who work in policing. As chiefs we have a responsibility as employers to do all that we can to make policing a supportive and rewarding profession. That isn’t anything new – officers and staff have always been the backbone of the service. But the job they are doing has fundamentally changed.

The facts speak for themselves. Non-crime incidents such as missing people, mental health incidents, and protection of vulnerable members of society have increased significantly over the last ten years. In my days as a constable, attending a domestic abuse case would often have been a quick report or a quick arrest. Not so today – officers rightly undertake a painstakingly detailed investigation into the abuse and go to far greater lengths to safeguard vulnerable victims. Investigating modern slavery networks, child sexual abuse rings, and ever-expanding cyber-enabled crime requires skill, knowledge, and many hours of specialist officer time. We have more work, fewer people, and the work we do has become more complicated. All of this has the potential to impact adversely on officer mental health and wellbeing.

Between 2010 and 2015, officers taking sick leave for mental health reasons rose by a third to 6,129. The Police Federation survey on mental health found that nearly two-thirds of officers said they went to work despite feeling that they shouldn’t have because of their mental health. We can’t let our workforce face the demanding, stressful – not to mention dangerous – job of keeping the public safe without our full support.

Our Policing Vision 2025, jointly launched with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, sets out our priority to improve officer wellbeing. All forces have also implemented workplace wellbeing charters, and the vast majority have adopted an excellent seven-point plan for dealing with assaults against officers. We’re continuing the innovative work led by Chief Constable Andy Rhodes to expand access to the Oscar Kilo Blue Light Framework project across police forces and our partners in the emergency services (more info here). We also work closely with charities like MIND and the Police Dependents’ Trust. This week the Home Secretary announced that £7.5 million will be made available from the Police Transformation Fund for a national police welfare support service, which is welcomed by all chiefs, officers, and staff.

Moving forwards, we need to take three main proactive steps.

Police leaders need to design change that values the ‘people’ element of policing. Most forces have gone through substantial change programmes where they have focused on increasing the efficiency of the organisation. In doing this, it is really vital that chiefs consider the impact on staff; their morale and whether working practices result in officers feeling that nobody is taking an interest in their work.

Next, we need to value contribution from all levels. Hierarchical structures present problems of their own because bosses don’t always know best. The management-speak term is ‘employee engagement’ but what this really means is valuing people’s contribution. We are working to open up our culture, encourage feedback and harness the contribution of every member of staff.

We encourage all officers to work through their Police Federation representatives to raise issues with leadership, both nationally and locally. As representatives of officers, they place a crucial role in raising these issues, and all chiefs are committed to working in full and close collaboration with the Federation. We need to address the perceived stigma about stress and mental health issues. Things are getting better, but we need to do more to tackle the ‘be strong’ culture.

The Federation survey also noted that 63 per cent of people sought help for mental health issues from their line manager, and three-quarters report being treated with dignity and respect. Showing that where good processes are in place, they build confidence. But it’s not just about the hard data – we need to enable officers to decompress, talk, and feel supported by the structures.

Finally, we need to find the right balance between accountability and learning. Too often we resort to misconduct processes having failed to deal with problems as learning earlier on. We are working with all chiefs and the College of Policing to address the culture of blame that can affect officers at all ranks. There is some way to go but this is a clear priority for me and for all chiefs. We have to build organisations that can be open and learn rather than blame and keep failing.

The terrible events of recent months have brought to light the danger that police officers face every day. Our police staff also deal with difficult, upsetting and draining things everyday. We owe them our commitment that they will be able to access to the support they need, when they need it.

CC Dave Thompson blog: Policing funding - what do we need to tackle the threats

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In 1974 my predecessor as West Midlands Chief Constable, Sir Derrick Capper, faced a sustained UK IRA bombing campaign with 6,842 police officers. Forty years later and after a horrific series of attacks in London and Manchester, I face a modern terror threat with 6,600 officers – a number that has already fallen by close to 2,000 and is set to fall further.

Numbers, of course, do not tell the full story. Today we have the advantage of different powers, tactics and technology. We have specialist police staff and PCSOs. But we also have a much wider mission, from tackling anti-social behaviour to cyber-crime; acting as the service of last resort for people who have fallen through the gaps of other services. Our population is larger and more diverse with digital technology underpinning daily life. In this context, the fall of 20,000 officers across the country is an important part of the equation.

The government has already increased spending on counter terrorism, part-funded increases in firearms officers and given policing flat cash protection from 2015. However, countering terrorism is predicated on dedicated counter terrorism resources fitting into a broader police service. The firearms commanders, casualty bureau, custody staff, body recovery teams and uniformed officers patrolling crowded spaces that are so central to preventing and responding to a terror attack are paid for by core police funding. Over two thirds of the policing effort after the Westminster attack was not counter-terrorism funded. This figure will be much higher following the Manchester attack.

The current flat cash settlement for policing means force budgets will fall in real terms. We are guaranteed a shrinking government grant each year, which can only keep up with 2015 levels if police and crime commissioners increase local taxation to the maximum. Taking into account inflation and cost pressures there will be less money every year for forces on top of real terms cuts of 18 per cent since 2010. Many forces are now using considerable reserves to maintain current staff numbers, which when spent will see numbers falling even further.

If we are to sustain the protection citizens want and need, police leaders need to continue to reform, look hard at what needs to be done differently,and be bold and innovative in rising to the challenge. But we also need to work constructively with the new government on what is needed from police funding to tackle the threats we face. With lots of discussion about police funding and officer numbers in recent days and in the election campaign, I wanted to set out the three key areas that we think will make a real difference.

Firstly, the funding forces receive needs to be stabilised with real terms protection for policing as a whole. Last year we saw the prison service snap under pressure with riots in Birmingham Prison. We cannot afford this to happen to policing but the strain is showing from recent weeks and we’d have real challenges in dealing with something like the 2011 riots again. When things break recovery is never quick, and in policing it takes considerable time to recruit and train staff.

Secondly, the money we have can be spent more effectively. Chiefs and PCCs are working together to change the way we deliver forensics, armed policing, surveillance and major investigations; making them more affordable and effective with surplus costs available to reinvest in other priorities. We need continued support from the government to drive through changes like this. It’s also time to ask why a growing proportion of the police budget is being allocated to managing complaints or to non-policing at a time when our core role is under strain.

Thirdly, targeted increases in government spending will help us tackle the threats we face. Government is already supporting work to enhance our ability to exploit the digital world to keep people safe; more investment will be needed with a growing cyber threat. Counter terrorism policing is stretched and is in no place to deliver efficiency savings. We will also need to think very carefully about the need for enhanced protection for our officers who run towards the terrorists.

However, the answer cannot simply be to do more in the shadows or be better armed. A significant cohort of those influenced by extremist views live in communities where public services have a legitimacy deficit. Visible, accessible policing cannot afford to shrink further. Police leaders value local neighbourhood policing so strongly, not from a dewy-eyed, sentimental yearning for the past but because it helps us gather intelligence, prevent harm and build public trust. A service that is not meeting the needs of local people is not likely to win their trust or assure them of their safety. Without investment or protection this time-served feature of policing will disappear at huge cost to our nation’s security.

The attacks in London and Manchester show we have a police service whose officers have shown incredible bravery defending the public. In the past few weeks, people have demonstrated a huge affection for the work of policing, recognising our officers are unquestionably the frontline of our nation’s security. It is time for police leaders to work with our new government and make the case for realistic investments in our service at this critical time.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Finance, Chief Constable Dave Thompson

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2017

For our April meeting we travelled to Durham with a focus on reform and welcomed two guests; Dame Vera Baird, Chair of the APCC and Commissioner Erik Akerboom of the Netherlands Police, to speak to us about their organisations.

Dame Vera gave a positive update about the work that we are doing together on police reform and transformation. There was a strong emphasis on more joint working and we were given an insight into the portfolio structure of the APCC. This was the first time that the chair of the APCC had attended Chief Constables Council and we had a good debate with Dame Vera which colleagues found highly valuable.

Commissioner Erik Akerboom, the Head of the Netherlands Police also attended with Frank Paauw who is the Chief of Police for Rotterdam. They gave an interesting overview of the structural changes in the Netherlands Police which is now one force. He explained how they have, through local mayors and their local Chief Crown Prosecutors, preserved important local links. The Chief of Rotterdam described how he was part of one organisation in terms of technology, human resources or uniform but was very much working with the Mayor and the Chief Crown Prosecutor in Rotterdam.

The attack on Westminster was at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Mark Rowley was able to give chiefs’ a detailed operational briefing on the attack and two minute silence was observed to pay our respects to those who lost their lives. We were all devastated by the loss of our brave colleague PC Keith Palmer as he went about his duties.

Specialist capabilities was high on our agenda with presentations from all the leads on firearms, surveillance, technical surveillance, roads policing and major investigation. Colleagues were supportive of the proposals to network these specialist capabilities across forces. In effect, this means that we are agreeing to share high end capabilities so that we can be both more effective and more efficient.

We discussed proposals for five options around the transformation of forensics which were increasingly more collaborative. Colleagues discussed this at some length and most forces and regions were in support of the most collaborated approach. This option not only provided the opportunity to be more efficient and effective but it was also the one that most adequately dealt with the very real problem of standardisation within forensic science, an issue which has been a concern to the forensic regulator.

Modern slavery and the associated crimes are a major challenge for all of us, but there is a strong commitment to tackle these issues and prevent harm and suffering. There was a joint presentation by Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer and the National Crime Agency on the uplift in resources nationally since the Police Transformation Fund Bid was agreed last year. It was clear that progress has been made in this area and work will continue to keep up with the threat.

At our council meeting in October we had commissioned the development of a national strategy to raise the standards of all forces in preventing police officers abusing their powers for sexual gain. Chief Constable Stephen Watson gave us an update on the strategy and this was agreed by chiefs. We are all committed to high standards of behaviour and taking robust action against those who fall short of these standards. There is no place in policing for this type of conduct.

Chiefs also supported the need to do more work on the balance between performance and misconduct, to look at how to further embed organisational learning and the need to develop a culture of learning rather than a culture of blame. This has followed on from the work we began with Matthew Syed and the focus is very much on ‘Learning Leaders’. Chiefs acknowledged that if we are to make progress on developing a learning culture then we need to involve the staff associations and bodies such as IPCC and HMIC.

We closed council with a discussion about possible changes to chief officer recruitment following a recent letter from the Home Office. Chiefs agreed on the importance of proper consultation on this matter and the need for a sound understanding of the rationale for this proposal. In particular it would represent a significant constitutional shift from the current arrangement of a Police and Crime Commissioner elected by the public holding to account the operational leader of the force and relying on him or her for their professional expertise.

ACC Mark Roberts blog: We all have the same aim - a safe and enjoyable World Cup

It’s hard to forget the scenes from Marseilles during Euro 2016. We witnessed some of the worst football violence in recent years. It was highly organised and prolonged with many being left with serious injuries. This isn’t what football tournaments should be about.

I recently travelled to Russia to meet with World Cup organisers to discuss their security plans ahead of the tournament. These early meetings build on the excellent working relationship we forged with the Russian policing delegation in France.

It is clear that we all have the same aim – a safe and enjoyable World Cup. We want supporters to feel confident that they can visit Russia, watch the football and explore the host cities.

The focus in Moscow is very much on providing the best experience for fans from every country. So far I have seen a strong commitment to security and am interested to see how these plans progress.

In the lead-up to the World Cup we will continue to work with our Russian counterparts to offer them every support we can. As I learn more about the security arrangements, I will pass this information on to fans so they can make an informed decision. Fans should also keep up to date with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice.

There is no excuse for violence, disorder or anti-social behaviour at football matches and the World Cup is no exception.

Looking back at previous events, there wasn’t one arrest of a British national related to football disorder in South Africa, Poland & Ukraine or Brazil. We want this trend to continue.

Legislation and banning orders have worked well in reducing the risk of violence from UK fans at matches.

We will be doing all we can to ensure that genuine fans who want to enjoy the football can and those intent on engaging in disorder are prevented from travelling. In the lead-up to the World Cup people who are subject to football banning orders will be contacted and required to surrender their passports. A large scale operation at UK ports will run throughout the tournament with experienced officers on hand to identify and prevent high-risk individuals travelling.

Our role in Russia will be to support the authorities by providing intelligence, identifying known risk supporters, engaging with UK fans and advising the local police on appropriate tactics with visiting supporters.

The first meeting with the teams in Moscow has paved the way for cooperation and collaboration in the build-up to the World Cup. We want to work with organisers and authorities to provide the safest environment that we can.

We want Russia to be remembered for the right reasons. International tournaments provide fans with the opportunity to meet with supporters from all over the world and enjoy the football. This is what we know the majority of fans want and we will work with our Russian counterparts every step of the way to achieve this.

NPCC Questions and Answers on Conducted Energy Devices

Taser blog.jpg

*This article was originally published in February 2012 and was last updated in June 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions about TASER

The public are asking more questions than ever before about the police use of Conducted Energy Devices (CED) and what it means for policing and protecting the public. There are many different views on the place of CEDs in policing and it is regularly debated and discussed in the mainstream media and across social media.

We believe it’s important for the public to be given the facts around CEDs to help with that discussion, which is why we have drawn up a list of the most frequently asked questions for the public and media to use.

The guidance on the use of CEDs is continually reviewed to ensure it remains fit for purpose and this document will be updated from time to time to reflect any new developments.

- The National Policing Lead for CEDs and other less-lethal weapons is Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi.

When were CEDs introduced into the UK?

In 2004, following a trial in five forces, it was agreed to allow chief officers of all police forces in England and Wales to make CEDs available to authorised firearms officers for use in authorised firearms operations.

In July 2007, authorised firearms officers were allowed to use CEDs in a wider set of circumstances. These officers are now additionally able to deploy CEDs in operations or incidents where the use of firearms is not authorised, but where they are facing violence or threats of violence where they would need to use force to protect the public, themselves or the subject.

Also announced in July 2007 was the trial in 10 police forces of CED deployment to non-firearms officers facing similar violence or threats of violence. These officers are referred to as Specially Trained Officers, or STOs.

The 12 month STO trial commenced on 1 September 2007 and ended on 31 August 2008. It took place in the following forces: Avon & Somerset, Devon & Cornwall, Gwent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan Police, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Wales and West Yorkshire.

Following the success of the trial, from 1 December 2008, CED use was extended to STOs.

Following comprehensive assessments by an independent medical committee, government scientists and the police, the Home Secretary authorised the use of the TASER in 2017 and subsequently the Taser 7 in 2020.

What are the main differences between the CEDs?


  • Range of 21 feet or 6.4 metres.
  • Single shot device with a single laser sighting system.
  • The 5-second cycle is triggered by momentary pressure on the trigger, however, if pressure is maintained on the trigger the device will discharge until the trigger is released.
  • This model is no longer in production and its use will eventually be phased out.


  • Range of 25 feet or 7.6 metres.
  • Two-shot capability and a dual laser sighting system.
  • The 5-second cycle is automatically terminated, regardless of whether continuous pressure is maintained on the trigger. Additional action is required from the officer to extend the cycle beyond the default 5-seconds.
  • Cross connect – allows for connectivity between deployed probes from different cartridges within the same device.


  • Range of 25 feet or 7.6 metres.
  • As with the X2, the 5-second cycle is automatically terminated, regardless of whether continuous pressure is maintained on the trigger. Additional action is required from the officer to extend the cycle beyond the default 5-seconds.
  • Adaptive cross connect – the deployed barbs will seek out the best connection and adapt accordingly. This assists in the desired use of the device.
  • New dart design – Gives a better flight when discharged, meaning better accuracy and a better connection.
  • Smaller device than the X2 which assists the ease of carriage
  • Cartridges come in two different angles. This enables the officers to make a choice between a ‘Close-up’ and a ‘Standoff’ cartridge.

Is every police officer given a CED?

Every chief constable makes a decision, based on an assessment of the risks in their own area, to train and deploy a proportionate number of officers to use CEDs so that the public are kept safe and police officers are protected as far as possible.

Every use of CED is reported and scrutinised and officers are individually accountable to the law for the amount of force they use. Not everyone will be accepted for training in the use of CEDs. A minimum standard for all CED trained officers is that they must be police first-aid trained, pass an eyesight test, pass a professional standards record check and be officer safety trained (with knowledge of, and training in, law, self-defence and restraint).

What does CED ‘use’ mean?

In the UK, use of a CED does not necessarily mean that electrical discharge is delivered to a person. Because we recognise that the mere availability of a CED at an incident can help to defuse the situation, we differentiate ‘use’ into seven types: drawn, aimed, arced, red dot, drive-stun, angled drive-stun and probes fired. The first four types of use do not deliver electrical discharge and comprise the majority (about 86%) of uses by UK police. In the remaining 14%, the majority involve fired probes. Use in one of the drive-stun modes comprises about 1%.

Why use CED at all?

CEDs provide an additional option to resolve situations, including the threat of serious violence, which can come from any section of the public. In certain circumstances the use of CED is more appropriate than other options in resolving dangerous situations safely and with less risk of serious injury. In addition, officers who are trained and equipped with CED must decide on the most reasonable and necessary use of force in the circumstances. The level of force used must be proportionate to achieve the objective and officers are individually accountable in law for the amount of force they use on a person.

The alternatives to CED include a range of other measures such as physical restraint, batons and police dogs. Much will depend upon the circumstances, but CEDs will often be less injurious than resorting to baton strikes or employing a police dog. In the majority of cases involving CED, the mere threat of its use has been enough to defuse a situation and ensure a peaceful resolution of the incident.

What happens to someone when a CED is used on them?

The normal reaction of a person exposed to the electrical discharge of a CED is pain, coupled with the loss of voluntary muscle control which can result in the subject falling to the ground or freezing on the spot. Recovery from these effects should be almost instantaneous once the discharge turns off. Anyone who is arrested after being subjected to CED discharge is examined by a medical professional.

After a CED is used on someone, are the medical implications taken into account?

Yes. The medical implications associated with use of CEDs are closely monitored by an independent panel of medical and lay advisers who also monitor learning from across the world. This enables continuous review of the guidance to ensure that it remains fit for purpose. In addition, the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) is supported by a detailed training curriculum which is delivered to all CED officers; these officers also receive an annual refresher course. The APP is available to view on the College of Policing website.

Who is responsible for training officers?

Officers are trained by their own in-force trainers. All forces have a Lead Instructor (some having more than one) who is trained by a small team of National Instructors governed by the College Of Policing.

What happens if someone is on drugs when CED is used on them?

Drug use, including excessive alcohol use, is a common cause of violent, dangerous and unpredictable behaviour, and CED can be a useful tool in safely subduing intoxicated people who might otherwise be difficult to restrain. Other more traditional restraint methods can lead to injury to both the person and officers. If a person is severely intoxicated, their response to CED discharge or, indeed, any other use of force, may be different from someone who is not badly intoxicated. Irrespective of which type of force is used on a person, if officers become concerned with a person’s welfare they must take urgent action, which may include rapid transfer to hospital, if necessary.

What happens if someone with a heart problem or other medical condition has a CED used on them?

Officers won’t always know the people they are faced with or be aware of their medical history. The officers still have to deal with the circumstances presented to them. Some people who are violent may have a condition that they themselves are unaware of. What is important is that the officer deals with any threat in a proportionate manner and only uses the type and degree of force that is necessary in the circumstances. If an officer becomes concerns with someone’s welfare, they will treat it as a medical emergency and get the person to hospital as fast as possible.

What happens if someone has CED used on them more than once?

Sometimes a longer period of CED discharge is needed when a person continues to be violent after the initial discharge. People who have taken illicit stimulant drugs can fall into this category. However, CED officers are trained to always use the minimum duration of discharge necessary to bring a violent situation to a close. Usually a single 5-second (or shorter) discharge is sufficient.

Why has there been an increase in the numbers of uses of CED?

CED use across the UK has increased due to more officers being trained and more CEDs being deployed on the streets. This expansion has been carried out in a structured way within each force area. The comprehensive training packages, governance and monitoring are in place and the availability of CEDs is documented in each force area’s strategic threat and risk assessment (STRA). CED deployments across the UK, as well as the training and governance measures in place, are monitored by the National Less-Lethal Weapons secretariat, which is led by Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi.

Why have CEDs got a bad reputation when police say it’s so good?

This is a complex question. Other countries have deployed CED in circumstances that some may see as questionable. This has resulted in negative press coverage and public concern has been raised through human rights groups such as Amnesty International. There is no doubt that, internationally, a number of deaths have occurred in association with CED use. However, the role that the CED played in these deaths is often disputed, with coroners citing serious underlying medical conditions, drug use, or other force used by the police as being causal or contributory to the deaths. When dealing with seriously violent people, the police recognise that many types of force carry risk, and these include physical restraint, baton strikes, impact rounds, police dogs and irritant sprays, as well as the CED. Nevertheless, perhaps partly because the CED works ‘mysteriously’ by injecting electrical pulses into the body, the device has become highly controversial. CEDs offer the police a means of bringing a situation under control from a safe distance. In the main, the effect of CEDs is more consistent and predictable than many other types of force that the police might need to use. It is for these reasons that the police find the CED a useful option to have. Only firearms officers and other specially selected and trained officers are permitted to carry and use CED.

Why are CEDs used in custody areas? Custody is a secure environment!

Custody areas can be volatile and dangerous places. They are often places where the reason for the arrest becomes more evident following searches and the exposure of drugs and other incriminating items. This can cause a violent reaction. In such a situation, the police will need to respond to the violence confronting them. There is no way of knowing if, or when, such a situation will arise. Officers are bound by the law and, as such, must be able to justify each use of CED. CED is a tactical option that allows a police officer to maintain distance when dealing with a violent person or someone who is threatening serious violence. This is good for the officers, the intended subject and anyone else in the vicinity. It is not acceptable for an officer to use a CED to facilitate a procedure (for example, to force a passively resisting prisoner to give their fingerprints). If the prisoner in this situation becomes violent, however, the use of a CED may then be justified. In the fingerprint example the procedure, in effect, becomes suspended while the violent incident is dealt with. Once the situation has been bought under control, the process of taking fingerprints can resume. Most custody areas are covered by CCTV, which provides another layer of accountability

Why is CED used on people who are mentally ill or who are vulnerable?

CED is used in situations of violence and potential violence. Police have a duty to de-escalate events to try to stop situations from turning violent in an effort to protect the public and themselves. On 80% of occasions when officers are presented with violence or potential violence, the mere presence of the CED is enough to bring that situation to a swift conclusion without the need for physical force to be used. In such dynamic situations, officers aren’t always going to know the person’s background or medical history. It is in these instances that officers use their experience and training to make a decision on what use of force option to adopt. If immediate action is needed and a CED is deployed, following the situation calming down, officers will make sure the individual is given immediate medical attention if needed, which includes hospital transfer if necessary. The priority is to remove the risk the person presents to themselves and others with the least intrusive options.

Can CED be used on children?

There is no lower or upper limit on the age of the person that CED can be used upon. However, officers are taught that there may be an increased risk of cardiac arrhythmia and probe dart penetration in children and thin adults. A child is classed as someone under the age of 18, but a lot of violent crime is carried out by people who meet the criterion of being ‘under 18’. A survey of CED statistics in London revealed that only a few people under 18 had the device used upon them, and they were involved in violent crime, were armed with weapons, and so on. An officer has to justify their use of CED to the standard of the criminal court. CEDs may be used in such circumstances and can be less injurious than a baton strike or other types of force. As noted earlier, only 10% of cases result in the CED being fired.

What is ‘drive-stun’?

Drive-stun refers to when electrical discharge is delivered by pressing the front end of the CED against a person. There are two types of application: drive-stun and angled drive-stun.

1) Drive stun with cartridge off or a used cartridge in place (TASER X26 only)

Applying drive-stun with the TASER X26 can be done either with the cartridge removed or with a used cartridge in place (that is, when probes have already been fired from the cartridge). Drive-stun cannot be used when there is an unused cartridge fixed to the TASER X26.

Drive-stun discharge is delivered from two contacts (electrodes) in contact with the skin or clothing. These contacts are about one-and-a-half inches apart and must be pressed against the subject’s clothing or skin to have an effect.

When used in this way, the discharge will deliver only a painful local shock to the subject with minimal, if any, muscle involvement. This will cause them to recoil away in discomfort. In this mode of use the CED does not incapacitate an individual (unlike when the probes are fired). Drive-stun is probably the least effective and most complained about use of CED across the world.

When drive-stun is used, the electrodes and electrical current can leave temporary marks on a person’s skin. These marks can include skin reddening, electrical burns and physical injury from the metal electrodes scraping against the skin.

The UK police do not teach drive-stun as a routine option during the training courses, but officers are shown how this could assist them in emergency situations, where use of the preferred method (fired probes) is not an option.

2) Angled drive-stun (cartridge on)

When CED probes are fired they can sometimes contact the subject with too small a separation. When this happens, incapacitation may not be achieved. At other times, one of the two probes fired from the CED may miss the subject entirely, in which case no electrical circuit is made, the discharge will not be delivered and there will be no incapacitation.

When either of these events happens, cartridge-on angled drive-stun can be used. This is where the officer follows-up the probe shots by pressing the front end of the CED against a part of the body at a suitable distance from the where the probe (or probes) made contact. In this way it becomes possible for incapacitation to be achieved.

Unlike the TASER X26, the TASER X2 and Taser 7 can deliver drive-stun without the need to remove the cartridges. We anticipate that there will be fewer instances of use of drive-stun or angled drive-stun with the new device. If this proves to be the case, this is likely to be due to the newer devices two cartridges, which gives the ability to rapidly follow the first probe shot with a second probe shot. The dual laser sighting system of these devices should also improve the reliability of achieving incapacitation when the first pair of probes is fired.

Are complaints involving CED taken seriously?

Yes. All complaints about police activity are taken seriously. In the case of CED, any complaint that is made is recorded and investigated by the force concerned. In the rare case of a death or serious injury, which can occur in association with the use of any type of force, it becomes mandatory for the force to refer the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. The IOPC will then conduct a thorough independent investigation.

The police definition of a CED complaint is:

“Any complaint directly relating to the deployment or use of CED where CED has directly affected the outcome or persons involved, or where the complainant feels that CED was an issue.”

This is only guidance, and the perceived involvement of CED in a complaint will be recorded and investigated thoroughly.

How are officers selected to become CED officers?

All officers involved in CED training have to satisfy a minimum requirement. Some forces may introduce other requirements including raised fitness levels depending on an officer’s core role within that police service.

The STO is a constable – or equivalent agency rank or grade – who is trained in the use of CED, but who is not a Special Constable.

In line with national guidance and training:

  • The CED user should possess sound judgment, a knowledge and understanding of the National Decision Model (NDM) to resolve incidents involving conflict, have demonstrated maturity of action in the workplace, demonstrated an ability to use legitimate force in a proportionate manner and have an acceptable Professional Standards / Complaints and Misconduct record. (There is no requirement for psychological profiling to be used for selection.) This will be signed off by an officer of at least the rank of SuperintendentThe CED user is expected to undergo a biennial eyesight test to the same level as authorised firearms officers.
  • The CED user will undergo an initial CED User Course of 18 hours minimum contact time and be expected to be able to:

    • discharge a CED accurately.
    • pass the examination at the end of the course
    • demonstrate competence at dealing with role-play scenarios in training
    • justify the use of force using the National Decision Model (NDM)
    • demonstrate understanding when dealing with vulnerable persons.

  • The CED user will be required to successfully complete annual refresher training of 6 hours minimum contact time. If found not to be competent during re-training then re-accreditation must take place or they will cease to be a CED User.
  • The CED user must demonstrate safe systems of work for the loading, unloading and function checking of the CED, report any faults or failures to CED single point of contact or technician and will maintain competence to the national minimum standard in both first aid and officer safety training. This must include training in dealing with people showing signs of an extreme and possibly life-threatening condition known as Acute Behavioural Disturbance or ABD.

Eyesight Standards

In relation to eyesight standards for Taser officers, reasonable adjustments can now be made in relation to officers that have Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD).

How do forces monitor CED use?

Police forces record and monitor all CED use.

Forces have been issued guidance in relation to monitoring CED use and each force is required to:

  • Have a well identified and experienced single point of contact within force who can represent that force at National meetings.
  • Have a credible and well-informed CED lead. This person may be the force’s Chief Officer lead with responsibility for less-lethal weapons.
  • Have knowledge of the police force’s position relative to the National picture
  • Have protocols to quality assure all CED use forms
  • Have a knowledge of CED use statistics and be able to identify and initiate action to investigate anomalies
  • Action response to Freedom of Information Act requests regarding use of CED
  • Anticipate media interest and have a media strategy reflecting the national position
  • Have a comprehensive engagement programme to inform communities as it is essential that they are involved
  • Record complaints correctly - in according with the definition given earlier
  • Have a flow of information with the national Less-Lethal Weapons secretariat who will act as a critical friend for support and guidance. There are experts within the secretariat.

Why does CED use vary greatly from force to force?

Forces deploy CED in response to their threat and risk assessment. This can reflect local variations in the demographics of violent crime and violence towards officers.

Some forces will deploy CED with units that are specifically set up to deal with confrontation. This will mean there is a greater likelihood the CED will be used more frequently than other forces that deploy CED with officers who perform a general duty. What is important is that each use must be justified within the law and supervised within the force itself. If this isn’t happening there are safeguards at a National level that allow this to be investigated further.

CED has killed people. How can you say it is safe?

All use of force carries risk and the use CED is closely monitored. The introduction of CED into UK policing followed a comprehensive review and study by an independent medical committee (the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less-Lethal Weapons, or SACMILL). To date there have been no deaths in the UK that have been attributed to the direct electrical effects of CED on the body (for example, the electrical discharge directly affecting heart rhythm). There has been an instance where CED use resulted in death from a secondary effect of the discharge (ignition of flammable fuel) and one occasion where a Coroner’s court concluded that the use of a TASER CED contributed to a person’s death along with a series of other factors. The inquests on six further UK deaths where the use of a CED featured have yet to reach a conclusion. Deaths from head injury as a result of discharge-induced falls, have been documented in other countries and there has been at least one incidence of serious head injury in UK use of CED. Risks are reduced as far as possible by robust training, governance, engaging with communities and learning lessons by monitoring of use and sharing knowledge.

How do officers make a decision to use CED?

Officers use the National Decision Model (NDM) when arriving at a decision to use force.


What Is The National Decision Model For?

The National Decision Model is a police framework that officers are taught to enable them to make considered and consistent decisions. It is to be used by all officers, decision makers and assessors that are involved in the whole decision process. It is not only used for making the decisions but for assessing and judging them. It can also be used to improve future decision-making and help to create and refine techniques and methods for many situations.

Officers will look at each individual case and decide on the most appropriate tactical option that is in line with the law and is proportionate and necessary in the circumstances.

CEDs have been called '50,000 volt stun guns'. Are people shocked with 50,000 volts?

It is true that CEDs generate 50,000 volts to produce the spark discharge (known as ‘arcing’) across the electrodes at the front of the device. This high voltage is also required for the passage of electricity across the air gap between the CED probes and the skin when the probes are caught in clothing. However, once the electricity contacts the body, the voltage drops to about 1,500 volts.

The TASER X2 produces less electricity than the TASER X26 (amps and voltage) and has the ability to lower the quantity of electricity if there is a good connection.

1,500 volts is still a high voltage. Why doesn’t this harm people?

The reason 1,500 volts does not injure people is because it is delivered in extremely short pulses, with each pulse lasting about 1/10,000th of a second. This is similar to the static shock you might experience touching a metal tap on a dry day after walking across a carpet; even though voltages can be as high as 20,000 volts, the static shock does not injure because of its extremely brief duration. The extremely short 1,500 volt CED pulses are not to be confused with the continuous 240 volt mains electricity voltage, which may be fatal.

How can police be confident that the right amount of current comes out of a CED?

The manufacturer carries out thorough tests on all of its CEDs, which are guaranteed by an internationally recognised quality assurance body to ensure they meet operational specifications before they are supplied.

CEDs are also regularly checked to ensure they are functioning correctly.

How do CEDs work?

When CED pulses are applied to body, either through clothing or directly on the skin, electrical current flows. This current activates nerves under the skin which then cause muscles to contract. When this happens, the contractions produced by the CED override a person’s ability to make voluntary movements – the person will not be able to run away or physically attack someone. This muscular incapacitation only continues for as long as the CED discharge is applied. The passage of electrical current is also very painful, and this may also contribute to the incapacitation effect.

Is it true that police plan to introduce a new type of CED?

As technology is always advancing, Police services are duty bound to examine new products that are made available. Any new device is subject to extremely rigorous testing and analysis and Government agreement prior to dissemination to the purchasing Services.

If the current CEDs works, why do we need new ones?

The police service is legally bound to explore alternatives to lethal force and continuously reviews new technology to see whether there are any developments that could be applied in UK policing.

The TASER X26 has been commercially available since 2003, and has been in use in the UK since 2005. As with all electronic devices, technology moves on and new models may offer some advances in safety, use and accountability. All equipment has a finite life expectancy and will require eventual replacement.

The TASER X2 will complement the TASER X26 and, in time, will replace the older single cartridge device. The TASER X2 also offers some technological advantages, such as enhanced data collection, which will provide more detailed information to develop training and tactics and increase police accountability.

The newer Taser 7, although similar in many ways to the Taser X2, again offers technological and operational advantages.

There has been some concern about CEDs being used on the chest. Why do police aim there?

CED does not work by electrocuting people, rather they cause incapacitation by stimulating nerves which, in turn, make muscles contract. Due to this, the CED is most effective when it is targeted at large muscle groups, such as the back, thighs, abdomen and buttocks. These muscles are also largely responsible for posture so can be more effective at stopping a subject posing a threat to the public or police.

As is often the case with frontline policing, an individual posing a threat is unlikely to stand still and allow a police officer the choice over where the CED is aimed. Things can change rapidly in dynamic events such as these. The situation is further complicated by the need to avoid sensitive areas of the body, such as the eyes, face, neck and groin. If a combative individual attacks an officer face-on, then the reality is that the only area that the officer may be able to hit with the CED probes, while at the same time avoiding sensitive areas, is the chest.

Officers are not trained to aim at the chest as this is thought to less effective than other areas of the body due to the smaller muscles that are not involved in regulating posture. However, the operational reality is that, where a subject is rapidly closing down on an officer and posing a threat to the officer or the public, the narrow window of opportunity may mean that the chest area is all they can see and, therefore, aim at.

No use of force is risk free, but the alternatives to CED, when an individual poses a serious threat, include physical restraint, batons, police dog, impact rounds and, in rare situations, lethal firearms. These alternatives can have a much more long-term impact on someone compared with a CED, the effects of which last only for the duration of the discharge.

ButAXON, the company who makes the devices, said police should avoid chest shots.

In September 2009, AXON announced a change to the recommended point of aim for CED shots to the front of the body. This change involved avoidance of shots to the chest. The company went out of their way to say that this change was not because they had new evidence that such shots to the chest affected the heart. Rather, they said that it avoids the controversy about whether or not discharge from the device does actually affect the heart.

In the UK, as a result of the announced change, the Government’s independent medical committee was consulted. The committee concluded that, at the time, there was no new evidence to indicate a direct effect of CED discharge on the heart and that the risks of using the device remained low, a position supported by operational experience of use of the CED in the UK.

Subsequently, some new evidence did emerge in a human study that was published in a medical journal in 2010. In this study a single subject experienced a fast heart beat when the CED discharge was applied to the front of the man’s chest and returned to normal when the device was switched off. The probe had penetrated the skin and underlying tissue and was closer than usual to the heart. Although the device that caused this was not a commercial product (it was prototype of a new design), the independent medical committee took the view that it would be prudent to assume that the current CEDs may carry a similar risk. The committee further advised that if it turned out that this risk was real, then it could be averted by avoiding shots to the chest area over the heart. However, it noted that the overall risk of using CED remained low.

Officers are currently trained to aim the CED probes so as to “split the beltline”. In practice, for frontal shots this means trying to place one probe in the upper abdomen and one probe in the upper thigh. However, for the reasons given earlier, this is not always possible in a rapidly changing situation and upper frontal chest probe placements will inevitably occur.

Is it true that after every use of CED the officer must record where on the body it was used?

When new devices are approved for use, the location of the probes on the body is one of the pieces of information collected in the CED Deployment Form. This form is completed every time a police officer in the UK uses a CED. The most recent version of the form which his currently being used to monitot Taser 7 usages, allows the officer to record, on a human-shaped figure, frontal shots impacting on the chest area over the heart. This form, which was introduced in 2012, replaced previous versions which considered the frontal chest and abdomen as a single entity – there was no option to record probe placements over the heart.

In the event of any unexpected event occurring during use of the CED, the current form allows the police and others, such as the independent medical committee, to begin to explore whether there may be a link between probe position and the event.

For more than ten years, CED has been successfully and safely used thousands of times in the UK to protect the public and officers. Whilst there have been several deaths following CED use, of those enquiries that have reached a conclusion to date, the CED was found to be responsible in one (the electricity had ignited flammable fuel that the person had poured on himself). In one other case, it was concluded that the stress of the discharge, along with multiple other stressors (including physical restraint), jointly caused the person’s death.

It has been said that officers using CED receive training for only three days. Is that enough?

The CED training package in the UK is one of longest and most comprehensive in the world.

The training has been developed by an experienced group of CED instructors and practitioners and is subject to regular update and review.

It is among the best training in the world and is robustly scrutinised by the National Less-Lethal Weapons Working Group, the) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Scientific Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less-Lethal Weapons (SACMILL).

As well as reviewing the training, any police officer who applies to become CED trained must undergo a thorough selection process and not every officer who applies will be successful.

In order to pass the training, officers must have an established history and training in the use of force and decision making, have officer safety training and first aid competence. CED training then builds on this existing training and experience.

The initial training module is 18 hours, spread across three days. However, the total training an officer receives to become a competent CED user is significantly longer when all of the prior training they have received is taken into account.

Typically, in other countries CED training is achieved in one day, whereas the UK’s package is three times longer and demands that officers already have the skills and competencies mentioned above before they are allowed to undertake CED training.

But why don’t CED officers get the same amount of training as firearms officers?

A comparison between CED training and firearms training fails to account for the significant difference between the two roles. The standards within CED training are as thorough and robust as firearms training, but the length of the course for firearms is naturally longer because of the complexities and tactics used.

CEDs are laser sighted and simple to load and reload. They can also be used at close ranges (for example, in confined spaces). This compares with a handgun, which uses a conventional sighting system and is used over a greater variety of ranges and positions and has to integrate with a far more complex range of tactical options. As a result of these differences, it takes more time to train and assess an officer’s ability with a handgun.

As the skills required to use a CED are far simpler by comparison with a handgun, the re-examination and training of officers is naturally different. CED training concludes with a robust assessment process that will eliminate officers who do not meet the required standard. Once officers pass this training, they are then assessed every year and, if they do not meet the requirements, they will no longer be allowed to continue to deploy with a CED. It must also be remembered that the length of training is not the best way to judge someone’s ability. Ultimately, it is not about how much training an officer has received, rather it is the standard they must achieve and maintain.

Are police officers the only users of CEDs in the UK?

In addition to the police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the National Crime Agency also have personnel who are authorised to use CEDs. There are also authorised CED users in the police forces of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. All of these authorised CED users are trained and accredited to deploy with CEDs in the same way, leading to a consistent approach across the UK and Crown Dependencies. This consistency is also ensured by the NPCC Less Lethal Weapons Working Group supported by the NPCC LLW secretariat.

What is the NPCC Less Lethal Weapons Working Group and what does the secretariat do?

The secretariat provides a Joined-up strategic approach to police use of CED. It oversees authorised use of CED by police forces throughout UK and Crown Dependencies, as well as other authorised users including the National Crime Agency.

Group comprises of representatives and special leads from police forces who attend the meetings, as well as the Home Office, College of Policing, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the medical oversight body SACMILL, and is chaired by Chief Constable D’Orsi, the NPCC Lead for Less Lethal Weapons.

The role of the secretariat is to discuss matters of common interest concerning use of CEDs by police, which include recording procedures, public engagement, and maintaining standards of CED use across forces.

The secretariat communicates out to all authorised user groups by providing national circulars and a range of other information.

CC Simon Cole Blog: Uniform that's uniform! February 2017


I was very proud of my first uniform. Blue shirt, wooden truncheon, long mac, and floppy cuffs, as well as a tunic. I also got given cleaning tokens, although there never seemed to be enough to deal with the day to day experiences of policing Birmingham!

I am still immensely proud of my uniform. Black shirt (and some white ones too), baton, fluorescent jacket, solid cuffs, captor spray, body armour and first aid kit. No need for cleaning tokens, as the uniform issued is machine washable.

That pride motivated me to get involved in, and Chair on behalf of the NPCC, the National Uniform Workstream being progressed as part of the Collaborative Law Enforcement Procurement Programme (CLEP). CLEP aims to ensure that we standardise and aggregate purchasing across a variety of areas including fleet, language services and IT; the programme has been agreed by all PCCs and Chiefs.

The CLEP uniform workstream seeks to ensure that we all get good quality uniform, standard in design, and procured collaboratively. Already great strides have been made with 34 Forces using the same shirts, and 26 the same trousers, with others planning to migrate to them. The common sense approach has allowed us to identify the most commonly used pieces of core patrol uniform and we have now started to follow the same logic for specialist roles such as motorcyclists, traffic and firearms. Whilst this is moving forward we are also looking at how we can better improve our uniforms by the use modern technologies available to us. The nationally constituted steering group and specialist groups include representatives of each region, specialists, the Police Federation and Unions. They are seeking to identify specifications for all kit that can then be purchased nationally.

As the changes in what has been issued across my career show, we cannot stand still. Uniform needs to evolve and develop to be fit for purpose. It needs to accommodate body worn video now, with more future technological capabilities ahead. We need to understand the whole cost of what we do. Running stores, officer and staff travel time to pick up items and time spent in numerous uniform committees all have a cost in time and money.

Analysing that cost has seen the Met lead the way onto the National Uniform Managed Service (NUMS). A competitive process has identified DHL as their supplier. NUMS features an end to end service, with items ordered on line delivered, like the other on line deliveries of daily life, all across London. Lots of other forces are exploring this approach, with the likelihood of the Met being joined by others very soon.

For PCCs and Chiefs there is an opportunity to ensure a decent whole service providing uniform, at a collaboratively procured price. That uniform will actually be, well, uniform!

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2017

As our January meeting of all chief constables was at the Police Federation headquarters, it was fitting that investment in our staff and cu lture was at the forefront of our focus.

Sara1 2016 MainSteve White, Chairman of the Police Federation talked to us about some of the issues his members cared most about – quality training and equipment, better support for police officers assaulted in the line of duty and improved welfare support. There was a commitment from chiefs to work with the Federation on developing quality welfare support. Not just to deal the most serious incidents or issues but to help people through some of the more ordinary experiences that are part of the nature of the job - dealing with society’s most violent, dangerous or anti-social behaviour and supporting people in crisis or suffering.

Chiefs supported the College of Policing’s new leadership principles, which set out what all forces need to do to embed good leadership at every level. Principles include a strong ethos of personal development, continuous learning and development, programmes to develop talent, diverse teams and a commitment to morale and wellbeing at all levels. It’s equally important we test whether our staff’s experience meets these ambitions and chiefs were told about a successful staff survey created by Durham University that is now available for all forces to use.

The College’s plans introduce a licence to practice for officers and staff working in high risk, public protection roles represent a real investment in learning and development for our people. For those working in this vital part of policing, it means they get the right support and training and are properly accredited for their skills. For those we serve, it gives them the assurance that the person dealing with their case is a specialist who is regularly tested to ensure they are fit to practice.

The imperative for policing to be more diverse was high on the agenda. Forces have taken action over the last twenty years to recruitment more women, more people from black and ethnic minorities and more LGBT people but we are still far from being representative of the make-up of our communities today - let alone representative of our communities in ten or twenty years’ time. In fact, a chief told us that if progress continued as it is now their force wouldn’t represent their community until 2089! Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, our new lead for workforce diversity, is working on an action plan to help us put this right.

But our debate was about far more than being more representative in our recruitment. The challenge is to ensure our culture appreciates difference, supports all staff, adapts to different people’s needs and is fair to all. Chief Constable Gareth Wilson is going to spend some time developing a strategy to try and get us there; complex but hugely important work.

Part of ensuring a healthy culture is setting clear, high standards of behaviour, reinforcing them and taking robust action against those who fall short of those standards. Chief Constable Stephen Watson gave us an update on his important work to develop a national strategy to raise the standards of all forces in preventing police officers abusing their powers for sexual gain or sexually harassing colleagues.

This kind of behaviour is committed by a minority but all my colleagues are determined that there should be no place for it in policing. New training programmes to spot the signs, internal communications campaigns, confidential reporting lines and proactive intelligence gathering are all on the table. We’ll consider the final plan when we next meet in April.

We also debated how we would start collecting data on police use of force. From April this year, almost all forces will start recording and publishing every time an officer uses force - whether that is a form of restraint, handcuffing, use of a Taser or CS spray. These powers are legitimately available to police officers under law to enable them to protect the public and themselves from harm. It is right that we are transparent about how and why they are used. The data collected will help us to compare the effectiveness of different techniques and tactics and we’ll be able to make more informed decisions about training, tactics and equipment.

Recording and publishing all of this data is a significant change for forces as they use a range of recording systems. We have to be honest that in the first year, there will be data gaps meaning that comparisons between forces will be unreliable and potentially erroneous. But in the longer term this is an important exercise in transparency and one that will demonstrate the really difficult situations officers are confronted with.

CC Stephen Kavanagh Blog: Our world has gone digital January 2017

stephen kavanagh

Our world has gone digital. Smartphones are everywhere and have overtaken computers as the most popular way we access the internet. The world has changed, and 93% of adults in the UK now own a smartphone compared with 36% in 2000. The spread of technology into virtually every sphere of our modern lives means that digital evidence is now available at almost every conceivable crime scene. Evidence can include smartphone footage of disorder in a public place, a social media trail relating to a missing person, or a record of which devices connected to the wi-fi router at a property that has been burgled. The pace of change in our lives and how crimes are taking place is not slowing down with the volume of data globally set to grow tenfold from 2013 to 2020. The “Internet of Things” is another dimension for us to consider, creating an explosion in machine to machine communication that has already exposed new vulnerabilities as seen by the cyber attack that briefly disabled Netflix, Twitter and other major sites last autumn. Policing is already dealing with drones and encrypted messaging apps on which children have been groomed and we will soon be faced with investigating autonomous vehicle collisions and smart cities.

However, in policing we are by and large still using traditional operating models and tactics to address a transformational challenge that is as great as any we have experienced since the foundation of the Metropolitan Police Service in 1829. Undoubtedly digital investigations are still viewed as a niche or specialism in some forces. Capabilities exist and have been enhanced in recent years but are often left siloed and are insufficiently accessible to frontline officers. We must work hard to change these approaches. It is good to see that the Office for National Statistics has started tracking reports of online crime alongside traditional offences. The first fruits of that exercise were released in July. The findings were striking and important if government and policing are to reduce harm in our communities. It revealed 5.8m online fraud and computer misuse offences that had not previously been captured centrally, compared to 6.3m ‘traditional’ offences. Worryingly the ONS figures did not include crimes against businesses or online abuse such as stalking, harassment, revenge porn, sexting or grooming. These crime types cause significant and lasting harm to victims and we know are significantly under-reported. From early next year these numbers will be included in the quarterly crime statistics and trends will be very clear which will no doubt be the focus of further scrutiny.

In recent years police forces have gone through significant change as a result of austerity. The need to reduce costs has focused minds but in some places encouraged a retrenchment into perceived ‘core business’ as a way of managing demand. There has been considerable activity across forces to respond to changing crime types and understanding of threat, harm and vulnerability but we need to work more effectively with the College of Policing on new initiatives to improve evaluation of best practice. As HMIC recognised, it is unrealistic to assume that individual forces can address the scale and complexity of digital transformation on their own.

Consistency for victims is vital because the internet challenges our existing geographical structure of policing and concepts of social space, victimhood and crime types. A fraudster or hacker can target multiple victims in numerous locations from the comfort of their bedroom. Evidence can exist in multiple jurisdictions and formats but needs to be brought together into one digital case file for presentation at court. And we need to facilitate the same tools that we all use in our everyday lives to ensure that we give a better service to the public, whether in contacting the police, providing advice, preventing crime and giving guidance and reassurance or harnessing investigative leads.

This is where the leadership role of the NPCC digital policing portfolio that I chair, comes in. Since establishing the portfolio in April we have brought together the three NPCC digital programmes that will set the strategy for digital policing nationally, regionally and locally.

The Digital Public Contact programme provides a simple and reliable digital contact service between the public and the police. It’s about improving digital interaction with the public and providing a singular portal to access policing services.

Digital Investigation and Intelligence is focused on improving digital skills, knowledge and capabilities in order to better protect the public in a society that is becoming increasingly digital and Digital First looks at integrating digitised policing into the reformed Criminal Justice System, to deliver the best service to the public

We have already mapped the landscape of force readiness for this work and have launched a set of pilot projects in forces to act as proof of concepts of new tools, skills and ways of working around such issues as digital forensics, online stalking and harassment and hate crime. We are working hard to build an understanding of the scale of the challenge in order to influence the Home Office and Police Reform and Transformation Board. We are building a network of contacts across forces that we can help to support and encourage digital transformation.

The value of this work will be judged by whether it makes a difference to frontline officers, and whether victims experience a better service as a result. Capturing and sharing good practice is essential, such as the innovative work that Staffordshire have carried out to improve triage of digital forensic examination at crime scenes, Gloucestershire’s employment of Digital Media Investigators in the force control room to identify early opportunities for evidence capture, or Derbyshire’s amazing Digital PCSO providing a visible reassuring police presence on social media. Such initiatives can make a real operational impact but this is limited if the service’s people, systems and processes are not aligned to support and encourage such innovation.

Over the coming months we will be increasing the pace of such digital transformation activity in forces. We’ll be trialling new capabilities such as app based knowledge on initial investigative steps for officers arriving at the scene, better tools to triage digital evidence and data exploitation tools to link different data sets. We will be setting up a new centre to help harness research and development opportunities within industry and academia, and bringing greater coherence to the development and deployment of new capabilities. And we will be working intensively with forces on shaping their own transformation activity and sharing emerging good practice. Policing will look different as a result of this transformation but the essential Peelian purpose of policing; to prevent and detect crime and protect the public, will still endure

DCC Louisa Rolfe Blog: Coercive control can affect anyone. December 2016

Domestic abuse can affect anyone. It is something that forces up and down the country are responding to far too frequently. The abuse suffered can take many forms and until last year victims who experienced psychological, emotional or financial abuse were not protected by any specific legislation.

The coercive or controlling behaviour offence changed that.

On 29 December 2015, police forces were given the power to protect those who would otherwise be subjected to threats, humiliation and intimidation, often leading to total control of their lives by the perpetrator. In isolation, these incidents could be seen as insignificant but, to a victim, they can mean the gradual loss of confidence, freedom, friends and family. This not only affects them, but also affects their children and loved ones; it can destroy careers, life prospects and vital support networks. When victims try to break free from suffocating control they face great risk and their fears should be taken very seriously.

Nationally we have seen a positive response to these new powers, with forces taking this legislation and applying it to a wide set of circumstances to protect victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

The convictions to date are diverse in their nature. We are starting to see an increase in standalone coercive control offences and in other cases it forms part of a catalogue of offences. Across England and Wales I have seen examples of cases involving partners, ex partners, young and elderly victims and a case involving a mother and son.

There have been some significant sentences to date, the longest being 4.5 years followed closely by a number of sentences for 4 years. The maximum sentence for this offence is 5 years.

To mark the first anniversary of the coercive or controlling behaviour offence, I wanted to share some of the stories that show the reality of coercive control but also how police can help victims take back control of their lives.

I hope these stories give others in similar situations the strength and confidence to talk to us and stop the abuse. If you have experienced any type of domestic abuse, or think it may be happening to someone else, call your local police on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.

The coercive or controlling behaviour offence is there to give victims the confidence to come forward and start to take back control from those who seek to intimidate and isolate them.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Whilst in hospital the victim disclosed to staff that her husband of 32 years had been bullying her for a long time. Officers spoke to the victim, who made some worrying disclosures.

The perpetrator had been convicted of a common assault on the victim back in September 2015 and as a result, he was issued with a six-month restraining order. A condition was not to go to their home but the suspect never left the marital home. The victim was too scared to challenge him about this.

She stated that there had been a number of incidents over the years where he had tried to stop her from seeing her family and that she would always have to make excuses to family members about why she couldn’t visit, or why she couldn’t stay long. This was out of fear that her husband would make a scene or become aggressive after they had left. The victim would not be allowed to make phone calls to her family in private; if her family called he would stand next to her in the hallway. He would check her emails constantly and this eventually stopped the victim from using email. He had also snapped numerous pairs of reading glasses, as punishment, if she “displeased” him. He would also control all finances.

The perpetrator was interviewed about all of the allegations and completely denied any wrongdoing.

He was eventually charged with breaching his restraining order and engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour. He was remanded in custody and given bail by the courts.

Over the next 3 months, he was arrested on a number of occasions for breaking his bail conditions by calling the victim at home, writing her letters and poems, and sending her drawings. He was arrested again and was remanded in custody until his trial.

He pleaded guilty to the controlling and coercive behaviour and breaching his restraining order. The victim was at court, ready to give evidence against him, along with her family. She looked like a different person and explained how happy she was now she didn’t have to tread on eggshells or answer to her husband.

The perpetrator was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was given a 12-month supervision order and a restraining order, not to contact the victim, or go to the street where she lives. This order is to run until further notice.

Nottinghamshire Police

In Nottinghamshire, a man who used intimidation and violence to control every aspect of his partner's life was jailed for four and a half years.

He admitted using coercive and controlling behaviour, along with two charges of causing actual bodily harm, harassment with violence and two charges of criminal damage.

The court also imposed a restraining order - banning him from making contact with the victim or her family for life.

His victim bravely attended court to watch his sentencing and describe the effect he had on her life.

In a statement in court, the victim said: "He controlled every aspect of my life; from where I went, to what I wore, to what possessions he allowed me to own. I wasn’t a person, but an object to him. He undermined any confidence that I had to move away from him, and told me that he knew how to manipulate the legal system and Police into not being caught."

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2016

Chiefs gathered together in London in October for our quarterly council meeting. Our focus was police reform and we considered some really important issues to the future of policing.

We started by looking at the very full report on specialist capabilities, which we’ve been working on for ten months. It set out the rationale for more sharing, cooperation and integration in our specialist services like armed policing, surveillance, major investigation and roads policing.

It made three recommendations. The most important was that we adopt an approach of networked policing to specialist capbailities, sharing much more between all forces. In our current model, forces can sometimes be quite siloed dealing with threats to public safety individually, even though their neighbours are dealing with the same issues. If we tackle those threats as a network, with leaders responsible for improving those capabilities supported by good data and the best research and development, our response will be more effective with the costs shared fairly, providing best value for money for the taxpayer. The second recommendation was to agree that we would use the report’s findings to make specific changes to improve individual capabilities. All 43 forces will receive a report at the end of October recommending where they might be able to share and cluster capabilities to make them more effective and efficient. Chiefs and PCCs will then decide where they would like to do more jointly, so that might be in surveillance teams, automatic number plate recognition systems or some of the capabilities that support major crime investigations. The final recommendation was for chiefs and PCCs to support the work continuing; we want to look at cybercrime, intelligence and proactive invetsigations next. There was plenty of discussion and debate but support for all three recommedations. PCCs will make their decisions at their general meeting.

We also spent some time looking at improving digital policing, particularly the join up between police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts Service so we can share digital evidence quickly and securely. Chiefs agreed that we wanted to collectively store digital evidence in a cloud-based solution rather than each force storing it individually and we will discuss this position with the Home Office and PCCs.

Alex Marshall gave an overview of all the work that the College of Policing are doing to support and develop our officers and staff, particularly around the Police Education Qualifications Framework, which aims to recognise and raise educational standards in policing. Chiefs noted all the progress and were particularly interested in the apprentice levy, how we can recruit higher level apprentices and build good links with colleges and universities.

There was an acknowledgement that, while most local policing should remain local, we do need to be much more organised about considering what areas could benefit from national coordination working with PCCs.

An important development over the last six months is a review of the technlogy landscape in policing - we were given an overview of the totality of the work and links and dependencies with other programmes.

We invited the Police Minister for the first time. Chiefs were impressed that Brandon Lewis MP spent over 40 minutes answering their questions on police reform, foreign national offenders, bail and Brexit with openess and honesty.

We asked Julia Mulligan , Police and Crime Commisisoner for North Yorkshire and Chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board, to come and talk to us. She talked about the work of reform board, how we ensure we get governance right and how we develop the strategy to make the changes we've agreed happen.

We are committed to playing our part in eradicating the trafficking ad exploitation of people for profit and the Prime Minister has made it clear that modern slavery is a priority for her Government. Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer who leads on modern slavery for the NPCC talked to colleagues about what more we need to do , working with the National Crime Agency, to improve our response.. We will discuss this again in January to ensure that progress is being made on this critcial issue.

DAC Helen Ball Blog: Reflections on 'Look Outs'. October 2016

A Blog from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball as she leaves her post as Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing.

HelenBall2I was appointed to be the Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing in August 2013. This is a unique policing role, in which I have been responsible for co-ordinating the work of all UK Police Forces to help protect people from the dangers created by terrorists, violent extremists and radicalisers.

Protection is natural to me: I am the eldest of six children, four of whom are adopted and from different ethnic backgrounds. It feels as though I have looked out for and protected people all my life, and certainly this has been a major part of my policing vocation. The fact that early look outs – ‘the watch’ – grew into the police service we have today means that looking out for each other has always been at the centre of policing and explains why I have always felt at home in this extraordinary public service.

My time in role has coincided almost exactly with the rise of Daesh. As I look back over the past three years, I continue to admire the bravery and resolve of those who have been affected by Daesh’s evilness and of those who have worked to prevent the threat they pose from being realised. Whether we are the police, the security and intelligence agencies, or most importantly our strong communities, I am absolutely clear that all of us have so much more in common than we have differences, especially on the things that matter. We can, and do, look out for and protect each other.

A reflection of my time with counter terrorism policing can only start with the murderous attack plans in the UK that were prevented from becoming a terrible reality by the wonderful and brave interventions of communities, MI5, police, educators, and many others.

Let me take but a sample of these, evidenced by the convictions of the perpetrators.

Brusthon Ziamani (arrested in August 2014 and convicted in March 2015) planned to murder a member of the armed forces in a knife attack.

Tarik Hassane and Suhaib Majid (arrested in September 2014 and convicted in March 2016) planned to murder many police officers and / or members of the armed forces in a firearms attack on a police station or military base.

Nadir Syed (arrested in November 2014 and convicted in December 2015) planned to murder a person or people, probably at a Remembrance Parade, in a knife attack.

Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan (arrested in May and convicted in December 2015) planned to murder many people at a shopping centre or on the underground in a bomb attack.

Junead Khan and Shazib Khan (arrested in July 2015 and convicted in April 2016) planned to murder one or more US service-people using a car and knives outside a military base.

How many lives have been saved here in the UK because these attacks were prevented? If you count, conservatively, ten deaths for each of the firearms and bomb plots and one for each of the knife plots you reach twenty three. And these are only plots that have led to convictions, and only some of those. There are several other prevented UK plots, including some that can’t be publicly discussed; and at least one other where the plot was to murder people outside the UK.

Nobody should think, in describing these interventions, that I am ignoring or minimising the murders of hostages including two British citizens in Syria in 2014-15 or of thirty eight people including thirty British citizens in Tunisia in 2015, or the attempted murder by Mohammed Mire at Leytonstone tube station in 2015. These and other attacks have been the most significant sorrows of my time as SNC.

Other sorrows include the phenomenon of families and children deciding to travel to Syria to join Daesh, the way in which some people, especially young people and those with mental health problems, have been groomed and manipulated by radicalisers, including on line, and the increased use of propaganda and glorification of violence by terrorist groups.

I have seen propaganda used by those with extreme right wing views in a way that is intimidating and much closer to provocation, even incitement, than to free speech. And in Northern Ireland my colleagues and those they work with remain especially at risk, targeted for attack merely because of the jobs they do.

These sorrows accompany many significant joys of my time as SNC. Most of the joy comes from the clear evidence that communities want to look out for and protect each other.

Over the last two years, calls to the Anti-Terrorism Hotline (0800 789321) have been increasing year-on-year and over the last two years have risen from 10,580 to 12,450.

I was appointed to be the Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing in August 2013. This is a unique policing role, in which I have been responsible for co-ordinating the work of all UK Police Forces to help protect people from the dangers created by terrorists, violent extremists and radicalisers.

Protection is natural to me: I am the eldest of six children, four of whom are adopted and from different ethnic backgrounds. It feels as though I have looked out for and protected people all my life, and certainly this has been a major part of my policing vocation. The fact that early look outs – ‘the watch’ – grew into the police service we have today means that looking out for each other has always been at the centre of policing and explains why I have always felt at home in this extraordinary public service.

My time in role has coincided almost exactly with the rise of Daesh. As I look back over the past three years, I continue to admire the bravery and resolve of those who have been affected by Daesh’s evilness and of those who have worked to prevent the threat they pose from being realised. Whether we are the police, the security and intelligence agencies, or most importantly our strong communities, I am absolutely clear that all of us have so much more in common than we have differences, especially on the things that matter. We can, and do, look out for and protect each other.

A reflection of my time with counter terrorism policing can only start with the murderous attack plans in the UK that were prevented from becoming a terrible reality by the wonderful and brave interventions of communities, MI5, police, educators, and many others.

Let me take but a sample of these, evidenced by the convictions of the perpetrators.

Brusthon Ziamani (arrested in August 2014 and convicted in March 2015) planned to murder a member of the armed forces in a knife attack.

Tarik Hassane and Suhaib Majid (arrested in September 2014 and convicted in March 2016) planned to murder many police officers and / or members of the armed forces in a firearms attack on a police station or military base.

Nadir Syed (arrested in November 2014 and convicted in December 2015) planned to murder a person or people, probably at a Remembrance Parade, in a knife attack.

Mohammed Rehman and Sana Ahmed Khan (arrested in May and convicted in December 2015) planned to murder many people at a shopping centre or on the underground in a bomb attack.

Junead Khan and Shazib Khan (arrested in July 2015 and convicted in April 2016) planned to murder one or more US service-people using a car and knives outside a military base.

How many lives have been saved here in the UK because these attacks were prevented? If you count, conservatively, ten deaths for each of the firearms and bomb plots and one for each of the knife plots you reach twenty three. And these are only plots that have led to convictions, and only some of those. There are several other prevented UK plots, including some that can’t be publicly discussed; and at least one other where the plot was to murder people outside the UK.

Nobody should think, in describing these interventions, that I am ignoring or minimising the murders of hostages including two British citizens in Syria in 2014-15 or of thirty eight people including thirty British citizens in Tunisia in 2015, or the attempted murder by Mohammed Mire at Leytonstone tube station in 2015. These and other attacks have been the most significant sorrows of my time as SNC.

Other sorrows include the phenomenon of families and children deciding to travel to Syria to join Daesh, the way in which some people, especially young people and those with mental health problems, have been groomed and manipulated by radicalisers, including on line, and the increased use of propaganda and glorification of violence by terrorist groups.

I have seen propaganda used by those with extreme right wing views in a way that is intimidating and much closer to provocation, even incitement, than to free speech. And in Northern Ireland my colleagues and those they work with remain especially at risk, targeted for attack merely because of the jobs they do.

These sorrows accompany many significant joys of my time as SNC. Most of the joy comes from the clear evidence that communities want to look out for and protect each other.

Over the last two years, calls to the Anti-Terrorism Hotline (0800 789321) have been increasing year-on-year and over the last two years have risen from 10,580 to 12,450.

Referrals from the public highlighting online terrorist or extremist material have consistently risen, leading to the removal of deplorable material by the companies hosting it.

Referrals to Prevent from all sources have increased over the three years with over eleven thousand people referred between April 2015 and September 2016. During the same period 1,306 people benefited from support through Prevent.

In addition to these successes, I salute the women from all communities who have advised on and led community conversations under the Prevent Tragedies campaign to raise awareness of the risks that terrorists and violent extremists pose.

In 1829, Sir Robert Peel proposed the nine principles on which policing should be built – they remain the bedrock of British policing. The first principle states that “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder”. In the policing of terrorism and violent extremism, the importance of preventing crime cannot be overstated. It’s obvious that failure here leads to precious lives being diminished or destroyed or, at worst, lost.

Peel’s seventh principle declared that “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”. The way in which police and our partners approach the prevention of terrorism and violent extremism, and the response of communities to these threats is fully in line with this tradition.

Fortunately, we have remarkable people working round the clock to counter terrorism and violent extremism and magnificent, resilient communities who know that reporting concerns is not being a busybody or a grass or interfering; it is protective. I have been honoured to look out for people and communities as the Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing. Let us all continue to be look outs for each other.

Sara Thornton Blog: It's time for a sharing economy in policing. October 2016

British policing is structured around the local but criminals aren’t constrained by lines on maps so the police can’t afford to be either.

Sara5 2016

Local knowledge, intelligence, relationships and expertise are essential to keep local communities safe and build trust and legitimacy between the public and their police service. But crime is changing, and so must we. Every local force has a duty to protect the vulnerable from exploitation and tackle cybercrime, terrorism and human trafficking, but the skills and capabilities needed to do so effectively are often specialist in nature and can be expensive to provide.

It’s time for us to develop our network with a sharing economy, connecting demand to capacity and assets. It’s commonplace in the commercial world with apps enabling people to rent property from peers, hire cars for a couple of hours and return them ready for the next user, or connect passengers to share taxis with those making the same journeys. Culturally, ownership of assets is increasingly unimportant but assured access is vital.

Specialist capabilities, like the armed response to a terrorist threat, support on an investigation into a complex ring of child abusers or use of surveillance to track organised criminals involved in people smuggling, can be strengthened and made more affordable if they’re delivered through a network.

We have a long history of forces coming together to collectively tackle the biggest issues. In recent years, we’ve seen much more collaboration but it has tended to focus on moving officers into large operating units – an often bureaucratic, disruptive process. We think the future of specialist capabilities needs to be based on a supply and demand model. Major crime is often concentrated in certain parts of the country, so forces that investigate fewer of these cases could boost their local capabilities with additional highly trained investigators and resources when they need it through pay-as-you-go or a subscription.

This model already exists in pockets of policing and needn’t require top down management determining what services go where or big structural change. It does require commitment to a sharing mindset from all police leaders, a solid understanding of local requirements and demand and capacity across the country, and an expert lead to ensure the best possible service. Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners must have confidence access is guaranteed when called upon and that the service meets their communities’ needs.

This case for change is based on research and a review of the policing network. Our initial recommendations are published today and will be considered by Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to consider. The review has shown meeting demand for specialist capabilities can be a challenge on some occasions, while in some areas there is an excess of officers and resources beyond proportionate levels of contingency. For example, almost all forces have a covert static surveillance tactic but last year 24 per cent of forces used it fewer than ten times. It is vital that armed response vehicles are locally located so there’s a timely specialist armed response in all areas, including rural areas. However, while all forces had officers trained in a particularly highly specialised armed policing tactic, only half used it. This is not efficient, nor is it conscionable when budgets are so constrained.

When we truly understand the demand for these services, we can ensure resources are in place in areas of high demand where officers will be regularly using their specialist skills and therefore doing so to a higher standard. In areas of lower demand, highly capable, specialised services could be delivered in a much more cost-effective way. Reduced training and equipment costs could enable reinvestment where it is most urgently required and officers and resources can be redeployed to other priorities.

Seizing the opportunity to strengthen the policing network won’t be easy but the case for transformation is compelling - specialist capabilities there when needed, delivered by skilled officers and staff, with the costs of surplus services available to reinvest where they are needed most.

We know that people are not interested in where the officer who responds to a hostage situation comes from, or in which part of the country officers monitor cyber-criminals, but they do expect it to be done effectively and efficiently with clear lines of accountability to the public. We need to meet those expectations.

More information about the specialist capabilities programme

CC Simon Bailey: We have to intervene earlier to stop child abuse. August 2016

04 August 2016

Statistics published today as part of the Crime Survey of England and Wales show the numbers of adults who experienced abuse as a child.

Simon Bailey 3As a police officer and the national police lead for child protection, it is sobering to know that 9% of adults aged 16 to 59 had experienced psychological abuse, 7% physical abuse, 7% sexual assault and 8% witnessed domestic violence or abuse in the home. Much of this abuse was committed by family or close friends - people that children should be able to trust.

Sexual abuse of children and young people committed by well-known personalities, by groups and gangs or in our institutions has dominated the media and public consciousness in recent months and years. But these figures show that survivors of sexual assault by rape were most commonly abused by a friend or acquaintance or a family member other than their parent or step parent. We need to identify those children at risk of harm and take them out of that abusive environment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Following revelations about the behaviour of Jimmy Savile, police saw an unprecedented surge in the number of adults reporting child sexual abuse. This is a positive step as it demonstrates increased confidence among victims to report offences and a change in the police approach that has helped to promote and maintain that confidence. The upward trend in reporting has continued over the past four years as victims continue to find the courage and confidence to come forward and report child sexual abuse.

However, there remain many more victims who have not, for many reasons, reported their experiences of abuse to the police. The hidden scale of non-recent child sexual abuse is revealed in these statistics with an estimated 567,000 women and 102,000 men having been victims of rape or sexual assault by penetration as a child. The survey also reported that three quarters of adults who reported having experienced child sexual abuse had not told anyone.

As the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse goes on, I anticipate the number of referrals to police will continue to increase. We will keep encouraging those who have been the victim of child abuse to report it to us in the knowledge that they will be listened to, believed and an impartial investigation launched. This is the right approach for all victims of crime, not just non-recent child sexual abuse.

By the time a victim reports child abuse it is too late – the damage has been done. It is vital that, as a society, we work together to spot the signs and intervene early to prevent the children of today becoming the victims of tomorrow.

Click here to view the statistics

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council July 2016

Following the Hillsborough inquest verdict, I wrote an article for The Guardian on leadership culture in policing. At the most recent meeting of Chief Constables’ Council we built on that idea with a number of papers and guest speakers.

Matthew Syed joined us and gave a presentation based on his book, “Black Box Thinking”. In it he argued that learning - rather than fixed qualities like talent or genes - is the key to success for both organisations and individuals. Blame, on the other hand, stifles debate and diverts energy away from rational progress and improvement. He argued that, “Greatness is not about how much one knows at a particular point in time, it is about how much one is learning, especially when the world around us is changing.”

Sir Robert Francis QC shared his observations on his inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust and what parallels there might be for policing. Dame Anne Owers, the Chair of the IPCC, also talked about the importance of learning and accountability in the police complaints system. We have agreed that we need to develop our thinking in this area and a small team have volunteered to work on this with me.

On a similar theme, Chiefs talked about the need to have a group of accredited colleagues who can provide peer support. The next Chief Constable of South Yorkshire welcomed the recent peer review of that force and will use it to inform his approach to his new command. It was clear that there are sometimes tensions between seeking honest appraisal in this way and the regulatory inspection regime. However, we were all clear that we have a responsibility to share expertise in order to protect the public and any tensions need to be managed.

We also spent a lot of time discussing the most serious threats: terrorism, organised crime, cyber crime and child abuse. It is these areas where it is particularly important that we have a networked response and we support each other. But I want to touch on the people issues which were equally prominent. Chiefs agreed that, while in time we may want to reduce the number of ranks, the most important priority is to have flatter structures. Several forces are implementing a five level approach and this seemed to make sense to most present. In particular, the need to have a less hierarchical approach and the encouragement of individual contribution were themes from the Leadership Review which were supported.

Chiefs also discussed the importance of staff wellbeing, having signed up to the Workplace Wellbeing Charter for better physical and mental health last year. The CEO of the Police Dependents’ Trust, Gill Scott-Moore, gave us an overview of the role of the charity and explained that there was £3 million available for investing in wellbeing initiatives. This is very welcome and I reflected on its importance later that evening as we attended the Police Bravery Awards and were reminded of the psychological pressure officers are frequently subject to. The Police Dependents’ Trust support is very welcome.

Mark Rowley blog: Communities defeat terrorism - 3639 times a day, 1 August 2016

We have all been facing a severe level of threat - meaning "an attack is highly likely" - for nearly two years now. And whilst we have thwarted a number of terrorist plots in that time, we are not complacent and continue to do everything we can to protect the public

MarkRowley3The Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe wrote this week that the UK is “a hostile environment for those intent on terrorism”. As national lead for counter terrorism policing I couldn’t agree more.

The Commissioner described some of the steps we are taking to further strengthen our ability to protect communities, including more counter terrorist detectives and more specialist firearms officers.

In the UK we have many advantages in countering the terror threat including being an island nation with border controls, tight gun laws and a well-practised national security machinery of police and security and intelligence agencies working closely together.

But for me our greatest advantage is the cooperation between the public and the police. It has often been said that “communities defeat terrorism” and now that's more important than ever before.

The true scale of that collaboration is impressive, but rarely explained. The fact is that we see at least 3639 contributions from the public every day, helping keep us all safe in our collective effort against terrorism.

For example, every day ordinary men and women demonstrate their continued trust in UK policing by calling our confidential hotline to pass on potentially important information; calling 101 or speaking to neighbourhood officers to report concerns about someone who may be being radicalised; attending counter terrorism awareness events or learning how they can help protect themselves and their colleagues; or referring extremist content online so it can be removed.

Every call, every referral, every briefing is part of our joint fight against terrorism. The information we receive helps our investigations, intelligence-gathering and preventative work; they help us carry out significant protective security operations; they help us get the right support for vulnerable people, and they undermine the plans of terrorists. Indeed, some of our highest priority investigations have benefitted from information from communities.

However, with the enduring severity of the threat, we need even more public assistance to help keep us all safe. And while we greatly value the hundreds of daily acts from the public, now is a good opportunity to set out the six key ways people can help.

IMG 0712

Reporting suspicions and concerns:

1. By calling the confidential anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321 to pass on potentially crucial information about suspicious activity - on average we get 32 calls a day from the public;

2. By calling us with concerns about someone who may be being radicalised or learning about specialist services and support for vulnerable people - we already get on average two referrals every day from the public on top of the dozens more from statutory bodies like social services and health; while 300 people visit our Prevent Tragedies for advice and support every day;

3. By reporting violent extremist material online to our Red Stop Button to help us remove illegal terrorist material from the internet - on average we get five referrals from the public every day with many more from third sector organisations resulting in thousands of pieces of extremist online content being removed every week.

And by being prepared:

4. By visiting to get valuable advice and information from specialist police teams on how to protect your home or business - on average over 1750 sessions are recorded daily;

5. By taking part in our counter terrorism training and awareness events to help boost security in the workplace - on average 300 people a day are briefed or trained by specialist police officers and staff;

6. By watching our Stay Safe film so that should the worst happen and you are caught up in a weapons attack that you can take steps to save your and other's lives. Since its public launch there have been on average 1250 views every day.

All of these contributions are critically important to our ability to keep each other safe. So, while you can rely on us to work flat out, doing everything we can to protect you - whether it’s arresting record numbers of people for suspected terrorism-related offences (330 people last year), protecting vulnerable people and locations or strengthening our firearms response as Sir Bernard described, our collective safety depends on everyone's efforts.

To all those people I want to say thank you. With every call, every referral, every click and every other contribution you help make our communities safer.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, NPCC lead for Counter Terrorism

CC Sara Thornton blog - Unity & respect needed, not hate crime. June 2016

Sara1 2016 Main

As the country grapples with the outcome of the EU referendum, there are clearly very different views on the outcome of the vote and what it means for the UK’s future. That we are moving into a period of unprecedented change is undisputed.

Of course, there will be debate –quite reasonably that will be loud and passionate - but there is never any excuse for abuse, racism or hate crime. Police around the country are ready to respond to people who cross that line robustly. We have an important role to play in communities, helping people to feel safe and secure about being themselves as they go about their lives – we take that responsibility seriously. Many forces are meeting with members of their communities who could be or feel at risk and offering them reassurance and support.

Like the vast, vast majority of people, I have been shocked and disgusted at some the cases of racial or anti-immigrant abuse that have been reported this week. We have also been heartened by the people who have intervened to challenge abusive behaviour, condemn it and reassure victims that those views are not representative of Britain.

Since last Thursday, 331 hate crime incidents have been reported to the national online reporting site True Vision compared to the weekly average of 63 reports. It is important to remember that this is only one reporting mechanism and extensive focus on this issue in the last few days will have influenced these numbers by making hate crime and the site more visible and encouraging people to report. We also cannot determine how many of reports are linked to the referendum.

The national community tensions team has also analysed reports from forces which today shows an increase in community tension directed at the migrant community since the referendum. In a number of forces, migrants are reporting verbal abuse, negative social media commentary including xenophobic language, anti-migrant leafleting and, in very limited numbers, physical assaults. All of these incidents are under active investigation.

We want to make sure we have the full picture of tensions and hate crime so we are best equipped to tackle it and prevent it. NPCC Lead for Hate Crime, ACC Mark Hamilton has now asked all forces to provide weekly hate crime returns, which will be collated centrally. This is something we do after major national and international events where there is likely to be an impact on levels of hate crime. Historically spikes in tensions and hate crime have returned to previous levels relatively quickly and this is still a very small minority of people behaving unacceptably.

More people are reporting hate crime than ever before but it is still significantly underreported. I’ve heard of a small number of people this week saying they feel scared to leave the house. We are there to deal with this kind of abuse so our message to them is don’t give way to bullies and don’t suffer in silence. We will protect you but we need to know what’s happening to stop it and bring offenders to justice. Report to your local force by calling 101 or using our True Vision website
( ). In an emergency, always dial 999.

The outcome of the negotiations about the UK’s relationship with Europe in the future has the potential to impact on law enforcement and security. Before the referendum, we made it clear we have a need to work closely and at speed with European countries to keep people in the UK safe from organised crime, cyberattack, terrorism or violent offenders.

For those who may be feeling nervous, I can give assurance that our relationships with law enforcement colleagues in Europe and the rest of the world are stable. Nothing has changed yet and cooperation with Europe to keep people safe and stop criminals continues as it did before last week’s result. In relation to counter terrorism and our national security, UK policing has built a strong network of officers stationed overseas who work closely alongside our operational partners and this network is expanding.

My job is about working with police forces to keep people safe and enforce the law, not getting involved in politics, but police leaders like myself do have a responsibility to set out our operational requirements to politicians. As the Government enters negotiations with the EU, we will make sure those operational requirements are absolutely clear. We’ve said it before and will say it again, we must maintain our ability to share intelligence, biometrics and other data at speed and to work with foreign police forces on linked investigations, enquiries and arrests.

Unity and respect are hugely important for our country right now. We take our role in promoting cohesion very seriously so expect to see police officers out around the country engaging with communities, picking up and dealing with tensions and problems, and showing complete intolerance to hate crime.

Cmdr Simon Bray Blog: Legal highs? Not as legal as you thought – 26 May 2016

So called “legal-highs” might have been sold in shops but that doesn’t mean they’re safe. Often they contain one or more substance that is illegal to possess and users really have no idea what they are taking or what effect it will have. The future health risks associated with psychoactive substances are unknown and in some cases people have died from taking these drugs.

Until now the reality of dealing with new psychoactive substances or “legal-highs” has been complex. As soon as a substance was classified and banned a minor chemical change would be made which then made it legal again. Police, government and health services have faced real challenges in preventing the harm these substances can cause. Often officers would find a packet of white powder and couldn’t be sure it was a controlled drug or other psychoactive substance.

The Psychoactive Substances Act introduced today changes this. It introduces a “blanket ban” on the production, supply and importation of any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. Simply put, it will fundamentally change the way forces tackle psychoactive substances and will make new drugs that appear on the market illegal quicker than ever before. It will make it harder to buy untested and harmful substances and simpler to deal with drugs that are unsafe but may not yet be controlled.

In recent months, officers across the country have been working closely with local authorities and trading standards to make sure suppliers are aware of the changes and have the opportunity to remove these products from their stores.

Officers now have more options available to police psychoactive substances with a proportionate and common sense approach using warnings, notices, court orders, as well as powers of arrest or summons. The maximum sentence for supply is seven years’ imprisonment.

While the new Act does not make simple possession illegal, it is an offence to possess psychoactive substances with the intent to supply them to anyone. By sharing these drugs with friends a user has not only put them at risk, they could also face legal consequences.

Officers can enter and search premises, vehicles and vessels in accordance with a warrant, and seize and destroy psychoactive substances. There is a risk that the trade could go underground or onto the dark web so we are working with internet providers to shut down websites trading in these potentially dangerous drugs.

As a service we are committed to reducing the harm caused by all drugs and psychoactive substances are no exception. I understand that we can’t do this alone; prevention, education and health services all have a crucial role to play.

I am confident that together we now have the powers needed to reduce the harm caused by psychoactive substances - and we are determined to do so.

CC Jane Sawyers Blog: International Day Against Homophobia - 17 May 2016

Today, Tuesday 17 May, marks the 2016 International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia or ‘IDAHOT’. This year the global focus of IDAHOT is on mental health and wellbeing.

In May 1990 the World Mental Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Some seventeen years earlier the UK had already made this change.

We know that, historically, where global authorities have tried to pathologize LGBT adults and children - branding them as ill based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - human rights violations have occurred. As UK police forces gain an ever-increasing awareness of the issues facing the LGBT community, we create a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of many important issues and help to build the type of police services required. Although much progress has been made towards equality in recent years, there is still a need for improvement. Mental health and wellbeing are two areas at the forefront of this progress towards equality.

Earlier this year, the World Psychiatric Association strongly condemned any attempt to conflate homosexuality with a mental disorder. However, for gender identity, the picture globally is not as positive. In almost all countries mental health diagnoses are mandatory in order for Trans people to access gender affirming treatment and other social pre-conditions are required to access legal gender recognition. Last year, together with other interested parties, I spoke at a parliamentary inquiry session held by the Women and Equalities Committee on Transgender Equality. I emphasised the need for the police service to better understand the issues faced by the Trans community and for the government to review existing hate crime legislation.

Earlier this year the committee published its report - making several recommendations for change. While we still await the government’s response, I was delighted by its recommendation to bring parity to existing hate crime legislation. LGBT people are entitled to respect, dignity and equality at home, on the street, from the police and in court. The report also recommended mandatory training for police officers in Trans hate crime awareness. I recognise that better knowledge is key if we are to challenge hate, bring offenders to justice and reduce the harm caused and, because of this, I will continue to work with partners across the country to help share knowledge, embed best practice, promote fairness and implement any changes to the law on hate crime.

Over the past twelve months, the National LGBT Police Network has continued to grow in strength, developing its structure and regional representation. I look forward to continuing to work with the network as we begin an important piece of research which will explore the current workplace progression experiences of our gay colleagues within the service. I am always extremely grateful and hugely impressed by the dedication, commitment and work of our national staff associations including the National Trans Police Association and the National LGBT Police Network. They help support, inform and challenge our approach to tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

Overall, the police service is making good progress in our efforts to tackle these issues. Please join me today in recognising the significance of IDAHOT to our LGBT colleagues and, most importantly, to our LGBT communities. The LGBT community look to the police service to ensure they feel safe and secure - and we must treat them with the equality, dignity and respect they deserve.

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council April 2016

Last week Chief Constables met in Yorkshire for two days and discussed a broad range of matters.

Opening day one, Chief Constable Simon Bailey gave an update on child sexual exploitation. Activity against online child exploitation has been stepped-up and every police force is now using a central Child Abuse Image Database, or CAID, which allows forces to streamline the process of investigating cases involving indecent images of children by reducing the need to repeatedly grade the same image.

Council also approved a new Child Safeguarding Action Plan designed to professionalise and standardise the police response to all aspects of child safeguarding. Recognising the importance of stopping harm before it happens, as well as putting victims first, the four main themes are ‘Prepare’, ‘Prevent’, ‘Protect’ and ‘Pursue.’

Chief Constable Simon Bailey update on Child Protection

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, we looked closely at our ability to respond to a similar incident here in the UK. Earlier this month it was announced that 1,500 extra firearms officers would be trained using a combination of local funding and Home Office grant. Chiefs then went through the proposals in more detail and offered feedback to NPCC leads Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman and Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. Especially, they were concerned about the need to recruit significant numbers of officers into firearms roles. We rely on officers volunteering for these difficult roles and it is vital that officers feel that they will be supported and treated fairly in cases where lethal force is used.

Chief Constable Steve Finnigan gave an overview of the most recent HMIC PEEL inspections and his latest conversations and meetings with HMIC. Over the last five years, there has been a move away from targets in policing and Chief Constable Alan Pughsley shared the approach in his force. While Kent police do measure their performance, they have no targets at any level. The Chairman of Kent Police Federation attended and explained how officers now felt able to get on with the job, protecting the public and cutting crime rather than chasing targets.

The Policing and Crime Bill introduces a duty to collaborate on the three emergency services, and I established a working group with the fire chiefs several months ago. A presentation by Chief Constable Alec Wood and Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) President Paul Hancock summarised current thinking - looking mainly at the aims, principles and path any future programme might adopt. Chiefs were cautious about the appropriateness and feasibility of a national plan, given that a very different picture has emerged locally. However we wanted the working group to look at what was happening nationally, identify what was working and the plans that are in place in order to share approaches and any concerns.

Chief Constable Alec Wood update on Police and Fire Service Collaboration

The NPCC works closely with a range of organisations including the College of Policing, National Crime Agency, Association of Police & Crime Commissioners and Home Office. In an increasingly global world, however, these relationships can no longer begin and end with our physical borders. For the first time ever, Chief Constables’ Council hosted a serving FBI Director. On Thursday James Comey joined the meeting to discuss encryption and the challenges posed by modern technology. While our countries have many differences it was clear that some of the challenges were similar and we all agreed on the importance of continued international cooperation.

Notes to readers

We will blog about the discussions and decisions at CCC after each meeting.

Of course, there are some parts of the discussions at CCC that cannot made by public at the time of writing because relate to information that has been classified as restricted or secret.

The minutes of this meeting will be published at a later date.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog or any feedback, please get in touch. Because of the nature of the meeting and what is discussed, there may be some information requests that we cannot meet. We will always try to answer your questions as fully as we can.

CC Simon Cole Blog: Prevent - 21 April 2016

Today (April 21) I had the privilege of opening the Home Affairs Select Committee annual conference at Homerton College Cambridge. In the audience were some of the most senior people working in government and public agencies - both in the UK and from overseas


I was invited to speak about Prevent, the government strategy that aims to stop people at risk of being drawn into violent extremism. I am the national police lead for the role our service plays in this area of counter terrorism.

As the key note speaker, the delegates may have been expecting me to talk about our policies and strategies, our delivery plans and multi-agency governance boards. But what I really wanted them to hear about was the difference Prevent is making every day to the lives of vulnerable youngsters in towns and cities across the country.

So I told them the story about a boy in his mid-teens who was at school and had been doing well. Then, over a period of time, his teachers became really concerned that he had aspirations to follow some older boys from the school out to Syria. After some careful thought and professional consideration, they decided he was at risk and needed to be safeguarded from potential harm. So they referred him to the local police unit Prevent team. Officers looked at the case, with partners, and decided that mentoring was the best way forward for somebody who may be about to put themselves in the way of great harm.

The mentoring allowed an exploration of other ways the boy could challenge foreign policy and to debate different moral codes between faiths. I’m please to say that some months later the youngster is once more doing well at school.
Of the group of friends he had originally supported we believe two were killed in Syria and one has been jailed for attempting to travel to the conflict zone to engage in armed terrorist activities.

In straight-talking terms, this story is what Prevent is all about. It is a non-criminal safeguarding activity. It seems somewhat ironic to me that Prevent is often thought of and spoken of in some fairly extreme terms when it is a common sense diversionary activity preventing the unnecessary criminalisation of vulnerable people.

Why wouldn’t any caring person want to intervene to stop that boy following others on a path that could have led to a serious criminal conviction – or his death?

In my 27 years plus as a Police Officer I have seen acts of terror committed all over the world by people of every race, faith, colour and creed. As a young PC I was regularly told, as I patrolled Birmingham on foot, about the horror of the pub bombings, just as a Chief I now I hear of conflict in Syria, of Pakistani school children being murdered in the playground, Nigerian girls kidnapped from their classrooms, British citizens shot on a Mediterranean beach and European cities devastated by acts of terrorism.

Against this background, I am seeing the success of mentoring and diversion schemes as a way of helping stop people being drawn into extremism and to avoid being criminalised. For me there are obvious parallels reaching across into those individuals who are at risk – just as we have done for youngsters exposed to guns and gang violence.

Of course I do understand that Prevent is seen by some as contentious. But if we accept that the State has a responsibility to help to keep people safe, then diversion is morally and ethically the right thing to do. It is also unsurprising that the prevention required needs to be focussed at an age range that is pretty reflective of other crime types; young people are bulk business for policing. It is striking that the controlling mind behind the plot to behead a police officer or soldier in Australia on ANZAC Day was an online 15 year old from the other side of the world, here in the North West of England.

At the moment we cannot be naïve and pretend that those taking and abusing the name of Islam to justify some very barbarous unIslamic acts are not a significant part of the Prevent case Management workload. However, we must also acknowledge that Prevent is being used to divert those who want to fight on all sides of the Syrian conflict, and to divert those who see extreme right wing activities as legitimate too.

Prevent is voicing the concerns of people of good conscience. It is stopping people being criminalised, it is safeguarding the vulnerable. It is making us all safer, in a proportionate, thoughtful fashion.

Do nothing, remain silent and the parents of the boy whose story I told today might now be mourning their son, or visiting him in prison, instead of looking forward to a bright future.

Police Chiefs Blogs: International Women's Day - 8 March 2016

To mark International Women’s Day, we’ve asked some of our chiefs about their roles, experiences of being a woman in policing and how they we can achieve further parity.

Despite budget reductions, the proportion of female police officers across 43 forces increased by nearly 6 per cent between 2006 and 2015. There are now over 35,000 female police officers making up 28 per cent of the workforce. Women hold over 40 of our top ranks, with eight female chief constables and two of the major national police organisations are led by women – Sara Thornton as Chair of the NPCC and Lynne Owens Director General of the National Crime Agency.

National Police Chiefs' Chair, Sara Thornton:

Tell us about your role and what you do on a day to day basis.

I’m the Chair of the organisation that gets chiefs to work together on a wide range of challenges – from organised crime to workforce issues. I work to a plan that has been agreed by chiefs and spend my time doing three main things:

  • managing the coordination activity on which I lead directly and shaping the work of colleagues;
  • working with stakeholders such as the Home Office, National Crime Agency (NCA), College of Policing, other parts of government;
  • and representing policing which includes speeches, roundtables, workshops and visits

In 2015, we celebrated 100 years of women in policing. What have the most significant changes been for you?

For nearly ninety years modern policing did not include women. Since 1915, progress has been slow but we are now reaching a tipping point with the number of women and in particular more women in the most senior roles.

The theme this year is pledge for parity, what does that mean to you and your role?

We need to ensure that women feel encouraged to break all barriers in the service and that we all closely examine unconscious biases which may be holding ourselves or others back.

Are we doing enough to recruit more women into policing? What more can we do?

Recruitment of women has been a challenge because most forces have not been recruiting. But as this opens up I am confident that the mix will continue to change. The challenge is to ensure that women are equally represented in senior positions and specialisms.

Why is difference and diversity important in policing?

It is essential for legitimacy and effective performance.

Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Helen Ball:


Tell us about your role and what you do on a day to day basis.

I have a national role, co-ordinating UK policing's counter terrorism and counter domestic extremism work. I work with the national CT policing network, police forces and MI5 to prevent attacks and to investigate those who might be involved in terrorism and domestic extremism.

In 2015, we celebrated 100 years of women in policing. What have the most significant changes been for you?

The increase in the numbers in women throughout policing has been wonderful, including the increase in senior and specialist roles.

The theme this year is pledge for parity, what does that mean to you and your role?

With other women in CT policing, I have created a video where we pledge to support and protect women who are victims of or affected by terrorism. This is hosted at

Are we doing enough to recruit more women into policing? What more can we do?

I think we are doing well in recruiting women into policing. I'd like to see us focus more on women from ethnic minorities, whose numbers are still small.

Why is difference and diversity important in policing?

I think what we all have in common is much more important than our differences - our common sense of vocation, our humanity and our values.

West Midlands Police, Assistant Chief Constable Michele Larmour:

Michele Larmour

Tell us about your role and what you do on a day to day basis.

I am an Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) for West Midlands Police with responsibility for local policing across the force area. As part of West Midlands Police programme of change for 2020, I lead on developing the next generation of local policing, involving citizens in policing in their area and communicating with our communities digitally as well as through more traditional methods. As well as my work within the force, I lead for our region on mental health issues and fast track officer development schemes.

In 2015, we celebrated 100 years of women in policing. What have the most significant changes been for you?

The most significant change for me in 2015 was in deciding to take my new role as an ACC. It has meant a change in rank and responsibility as well as moving force and adapting to a different policing environment as I previously worked in Northern Ireland. My husband and family still live in Northern Ireland so I am also adapting to the commute and change in lifestyle that brings. Working as an ACC in West Midlands Police offers an exciting opportunity for me to share and broaden my policing experience.

The theme this year is pledge for parity, what does that mean to you and your role?

For me, this is about equal opportunity, recognition and encouragement. That’s not just female diversity but welcoming diversity across the board in terms race, religion, background and sexual orientation, as well as differences in personality, ways of working and thinking. Policing is still male dominated so support from male colleagues and their influence is vitally important to female progression throughout the service. Role models, agile working and creating opportunities to allocate females into challenging risk related areas of the business in order to develop their skills and prepare them for stepping into more senior roles are all important in achieving parity in the workplace.

In my role, parity is about creating fair and equitable opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential. This involves encouraging lateral as well as hierarchical progression and inspiring different individuals to contribute to policing and leadership. I mentor, coach and share my experiences both in my day to day work and through specific events - I spoke at the West Midlands Association for Women in Policing (WMAWP) 100 year celebration in 2015 and I talked to prospective chief officers at the Strategic Command Course this year.

Are we doing enough to recruit more women into policing? What more can we do?

The consistent increase of women in policing is significant yet statistics on diversity show us that we need to do more to be truly reflective of the communities we serve.

I think we need to ask the question of whether we are an employer of choice? Flexible working happens but isn’t fully part of our culture in policing yet; increasing flexibility may help us attract and retain women, especially as we know that with an aging population the number of people balancing work with caring responsibilities will increase.

Support networks, recognition and representation in all disciplines across policing will assist. Changes in the workforce mix and IT developments will create additional opportunities to deliver policing services differently.

Why is difference and diversity important in policing?

FTSE companies acknowledge that people with a broad range of characteristics perform more effectively than those who are similar. Diversity brings a greater range of skills and knowledge that we can use to solve problems and improve our service to a range of different communities and situations. It is also central to our legitimacy; we need to be representative of the people we police so we can build and maintain their trust and confidence.

Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council January 2016

The purpose of the NPCC is to co-ordinate the activity of police forces and increase the levels of collaboration. Four times a year, chiefs come together to agree common approaches to a wide range of operational and business issues. The strength of British policing is its local focus and connection with local communities but many of the threats we face are national and international so it is vital that we have a joined up response to these threats.

We started the meeting with an important debate about the vision for policing in 2020, which had been developed by a group of colleagues from all parts of policing. We agreed that local policing will be aligned and integrated where appropriate with other local services and that specialist capabilities should be standardised and shared to ensure that police forces are interoperable. We agreed a common approach to digital policing, the need to work with the College of Policing to develop a professional and representative workforce and with the Police ICT company and the Home Office to develop more consistent business support services.

This is a broad ambition that all chiefs felt able to support and we have cross-checked this against the 41 Police and Crime Commissioner plans to ensure that we are complementing local strategies. Together these initiatives set out a bold reform plan that will ensure that we continue to reimagine and transform policing to better serve the public.

We had an in depth debate about our review of specialist capabilities, like armed policing or organised crime investigation. The Home Secretary has challenged the police service to think about developing new specialist capabilities to deal with modern crime threats. She has also asked us to look at which specialist capabilities need to be delivered in every force and which are best delivered nationally or by groups of forces working together. We plan to do a very detailed analysis to understand the demand and current resourcing of specialist capabilities to see how we could be more effective and more efficient. We will also be working with the current force collaborations to understand their concerns and to develop options and possibilities. And we agreed that if forces are going to share more capabilities then we need to have agreed approaches to leadership, accountability and governance - this will also form part of our review.

Armed policing

The tactics used by the terrorists who attacked Paris in November 2015 were different to anything we’d seen before. As you’d expect, we have looked at how the UK would be able to respond to a similar attack.

NPCC Lead for Armed Policing Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman explained that we are in a better position than ever before to deal with terrorists because of changes made after other attacks such as in Mumbai in 2008. But there is also a need to train more armed officers in response to the latest threat. We have funding from Government to do this. Chiefs agreed that we should continue work to determine where armed officers are most needed and how they’ll be trained in quick-time.

Cyber Crime

NCA Director General Lynne Owens, NPCC Lead for Cybercrime Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman and NPCC Lead for Economic Crime Commander Chris Greany presented a plan for tackling cybercrime covering international cooperation through to local response and victim care. The priorities for law enforcement are making the UK a hostile place for cyber-criminals to target or operate, improving the response to victims through Action Fraud and developing capabilities in local forces. A vital element of the plan is getting people to protect themselves because 80 per cent of cybercrime is preventable by taking the right cyber-security measures

Digital Policing

Crime is changing and so are people’s expectations of how they should be able to access services. Funding has been secured to improve our digital capabilities.

Council decided to draw together three complementary programmes of digital work, which will form a key part of the transformation work.

The three chiefs are leading the programmes described their aims to chiefs. Chief Constable Simon Cole’s objective is for members of the public to have the option of contacting the police quickly and easily online rather having call or visit police stations. Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh is leading a programme to improve our access to digital intelligence and invest in investigative skills and resources across the service. Chief Constable Giles York is leading on a programme to make sure that police are set up to receive, use and share digital evidence as part of changes to modernise the criminal justice system.

Since Council, I have written to the Minister for Justice describing this as the most significant challenge for criminal justice and policing in the year ahead.

Leadership Review

The College of Policing's leadership review recommended that the NPCC review the number of ranks and grades within the service. NPCC Lead for Pay and Conditions Chief Constable Francis Habgood has been looking at the relevant academic research, arrangements in other organisations and how this might apply to policing.

The research suggests that there are five core levels that are defined by the nature of the work, its complexity and the time sensitivities that apply. Francis is now beginning conversations with a whole range of people across policing about these findings and what they might mean for policing. This work is in very early days but has the potential to reduce hierarchy, improve communication and encourage innovation

More to come from us on all these issues in the coming months.

Notes to readers

We will blog about the discussions and decisions at CCC after each meeting.

Of course, there are some parts of the discussions at CCC that cannot made by public at the time of writing because relate to information that has been classified as restricted or secret.

The minutes of this meeting will be published at a later date.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog or any feedback, please get in touch. Because of the nature of the meeting and what is discussed, there may be some information requests that we cannot meet. We will always try to answer your questions as fully as we can.

Sara Thornton Blog: Christmas greeting - Dec 2015


As the end of 2015 draws near, I have been reflecting on a busy first year for the National Police Chiefs’ Council. We have worked together to develop our response to terrorism and serious crime, police funding, workforce structures, technology and future vision. We remain absolutely committed to reform and are all relieved that we find ourselves in a better financial position than we feared we’d be in a month ago. There is now a great opportunity to maintain the policing service that the public want and also to develop new capabilities to tackle new challenges.

We established the NPCC in April and we are now working as a small independent unit, hosted by the Met, and supported and funded by all chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners under a legal agreement with strong governance and oversight. When I became the first Chair, I made it clear that our attention would be on coordination and collaboration. As the Home Secretary said in December, the NPCC is now a key “operationally focused” part of the policing landscape. I am particularly pleased about the way that chiefs are beginning to work with Police and Crime Commissioners at the national level and that our first joint conference was productive and hopefully the first of many.

We also said we’d prioritise the most serious threats to the public. With the terrorist threat level remaining at a high level, the police and security service continue to operate at a heightened state of readiness. We’re currently investigating around 600 active cases, involving hundreds more individuals. On average we’re arresting one person a day. In the first six months of year, 46 people were prevented from travelling to Syria and another 225 are being successfully dissuaded from extremist activity related to Syria.

We expect the service to deal with over 70,000 cases of child sexual abuse by the end of 2015; an increase of 88 per cent on 2012. Many more victims now have the confidence to report sexual abuse against them knowing they will be treated with sensitivity and respect, we will listen to them and take their allegations seriously. Forces have improved their approach to child abuse and nationally coordinated operations working with the National Crime Agency have resulted in arrests of 680 people for viewing indecent images of children and 400 children being safeguarded.

There are challenges and opportunities ahead. We are supporting major inquiries into undercover policing and institutional responses to child sexual abuse in the past, which will require significant resources. We’ll be using Government funding to build the skills, knowledge and capabilities for digital contact, investigation and prosecution. Making sure that specialist capabilities, like armed policing, cyber units or teams tackling serious organised crime, are delivered in the most effective way and provide the best value for money is a priority for me and the NPCC; working with the Police and Crime Commissioners, we’re leading a programme of work to make that happen.

I am confident that we go into 2016 with plans in place to deal with the issues facing policing, and that those plans will make people in the UK safer. Chief constables will continue to come together at Chief Constables’ Council to agree how we can work collaboratively with our colleagues across the criminal justice system a wide range of other partners and organisations. I want the Council to be inclusive, listening to voices from both inside and outside policing to help inform our decisions.

To all my colleagues who are working over Christmas and new year – keep safe. And I hope that everyone in policing is able to spend a few days with friends and family over the holiday period enjoying a hard earned rest.

Sara Thornton Blog: Police budgets, reform & specialist capabilities - Dec 2015

The financial situation is better than we expected but that does not negate the need for change. Today we're holding a summit with all chiefs and PCCs hosted by the Home Secretary to discuss how we develop specialist capabilities, like armed policing, cyber units or teams tackling serious organised crime, on a shared basis to save money and improve services to the public


Just under two weeks ago, public service leaders were waiting in anticipation of the Chancellor’s announcement on the Government Spending Review. Police chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioners were gathered together in Manchester for our first joint conference as the news came in that police budgets would not be cut over the course of this Parliament. We had been told that cuts of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent were being considered. We were pleased when the Chancellor said that the police protect the public and so he would protect the police.

Chiefs and PCCs have been thinking carefully for many months both locally and collectively about how we needed to change in response to changing crime and reducing budgets. The financial situation is better than we expected but that does not negate the need for change. We remain absolutely committed to the need to transform and reform policing.

Our officers will need to be better connected, better equipped and better informed in the future to cope with changing demand. I closed our conference with a reminder that we must keep up the momentum to ensure that in the next five years there is better use of technology, more integration with other public sector partners and our staff have better access to the information they need to do their jobs.

Making sure that specialist capabilities, like armed policing, cyber units or teams tackling serious organised crime, are delivered in the most effective way and provide the best value for money is a priority for me and the NPCC. Most policing will continue to be delivered locally where relationships with local communities are essential. Specialist policing is often delivered more successfully and efficiently above the force level where resources can be shared, approaches standardised and better outcomes achieved for the public. That’s why we’ve worked with Police and Crime Commissioners on a programme to develop them on a shared basis and why we’re holding a summit with all chiefs and PCCs hosted by the Home Secretary today.

This afternoon I want to hear the Home Secretary’s vision for specialist capabilities, share case studies where there are real opportunities like forensics and digital policing, and have a conversation with chiefs and PCCs about their views and the next steps.

We are facing new and evolving threats; we need to make more efficiencies in order to grow new capabilities to tackle them. This summit is part of achieving that.

Steve Kavanagh Blog: Policing the digital age - December 02 2015

Despite long term falls in traditional crime types, there is growing evidence that crime has moved online. The announcement of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) field trials highlighted the public’s experiences of cyber crimes and demonstrated how the use of new technology and the internet is changing the nature of crime in the UK. ONS revealed that there were an estimated 5.1 million incidents of fraud, with 3.8 million adult victims in England and Wales. In addition to fraud, the ONS estimated there were 2.5 million incidents of crime falling under the Computer Misuse Act. The most common incidents involved the victim’s computer or other devices being infected by a virus; it also included incidents where the victim’s email or social media accounts had been hacked.

This starts to give us a picture of the size of cyber crime in the UK and the new challenges it brings for policing. It is important forces not only find ways to respond to victims of cyber crime but also incorporate new technologies in the fight against these emerging offences.

I am leading for the NPCC and the College of Policing on the work to develop digital investigation and intelligence. In recent months the Capabilities Management Group (CMG), which I chair, has started to move forward with increased momentum.

We have been able to assess the level of knowledge surrounding the threat of digital crime through the National Analyst Working Group– an NPCC working group that brings together analysts from forces across the country. This has shown us that d igital crime ranges from cyber-dependent, which can only be committed using a computer or computer networks, through to cyber-enabled, which are traditional crimes that can be increased in their scale or reach by use of computers such as child sexual exploitation (CSE).

Changing crime necessitates a changing police response. Our work with the College of Policing has defined the capabilities needed at force level to ensure that all officers are equipped with the knowledge essential in dealing with digital crime. This will continue to grow with a new skills pathway being put in place to support our officers and keep them up to date with the ongoing changes in the digital world. The updated Mainstreaming Cyber Crime Training is a starting point.

We have also established the Committee for Digital Research and Industrial Cooperation (CDRIC) which brings together key figures from industry, academia and law enforcement to share knowledge and expertise. This CMG sub-group is jointly chaired by police and academic representatives working together to increase awareness of the digital threat. CDRIC has responsibility for identifying emerging trends and developments while highlighting critical gaps in current knowledge and understand. This multi-agency team will be able to broaden the range of advice available to CMG to advise forces how to progress in this area.

The next steps in digital investigation will be finding out more from the front line staff about experience of and attitudes to digital crime and incidents. We’ll be surveying officers about their attitudes to digital crime, their direct experience of it, and their confidence and level of skill in dealing with it.

Digital and cybercrime is now a major part of what forces deal with on a daily basis and we need to continue moving forward to keep up with the digital world. We need to maintain our focus on addressing cyber crime and supporting investigations locally, regionally and nationally to keep the public safe online.

Adrian Leppard: Fraud and Cyber-crime: What's being done? October 15 2015

“Traditional crime is falling”. While that statement may be true, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Modern crime investigation and prevention techniques, as well as simple economics, have resulted in sharp reductions in many acquisitive crimes types over the period of my service. We now have a new challenge in offences involving the internet which are changing the face of crime in the UK. Harassment, child sexual exploitation, terrorism and fraud are all increasingly being committed by suspects with a varying degree of computing expertise. This is before we have considered the brand new type of cyber-dependant crimes such as hacking, denial of service attacks and virus proliferation. The Crime Survey for England and Wales has highlighted this area for the first time and estimates that the level of crime in the UK is far higher than previously stated. This is because it has started to recognise and ask questions about fraud and cyber crime. This is a welcome (if overdue) development and gives us a much clearer picture of the true levels of crime in the UK.

As I reach the end of my policing career, I leave a service which is well versed in the prevention of the more visible crimes, but which needs to continue to evolve to meet the threat posed by cyber crime, especially online fraud. Frauds have been reported to Action Fraud since 2012, and all cases are assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in the City of London to identify patterns and networks. We receive about 250,000 reports of crime every year but we think that the true level is at least 12 times that. Although we would like to disseminate more, we know that the 70,000 we do send to forces to resolve are difficult enough for them to deal with. As a result, detecting our way out of the problem is simply impossible – prevention must be at the core of everything we do as a service.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified a growing trend for fraudsters and cyber-criminals to be based overseas. There is evidence to show they are using increasingly complex money laundering methods to disperse money belonging to a victim in minutes. That is why my force, which leads on economic crime, is working with the banking sector, the National Crime Agency and the Home Office to develop a joint taskforce looking at how crime can be prevented and illicit payments stopped. We already share information on money laundering cases with the banks in order to prevent crime and to identify potential criminal networks, and are keen to do more with our partners in Europe as well.

However, the prevention of these crimes cannot simply rest with government, banks and other bodies which make up “the centre”. The efforts of officers and staff who deal with businesses and members of the public are crucial to the fight. We believe that the vast majority of fraud and cyber crimes are preventable, if people have the right information. Every officer in this country can give useful advice to members of their community on how to prevent a burglary; can the same be said with regards to more modern offending?

To aid in this, we have developed a prevention hub which shares information with forces so they can understand the issues and pass information onto the people they serve. How many of the elderly in each force area know that a fraudster can “spoof” a number – so that it appears they are calling from the victim’s bank? How many small business managers know that their phone systems can be hacked into and premium rate calls made overseas (or that this is easy to prevent?) And how many people can spot the clues which could point to their PC being infected by a banking Trojan virus? Although many of these issues are new to some people, none of them are particularly complicated. I believe that all parts of the UK public sector and all members of the British policing family have a role to play in keeping our public safe.

Adrian Leppard is the Commissioner of the City of London Police and holds the NPCC economic crime portfolio. He will retire in December after 32 years service.

Sexting, young people and the police: Working towards a common-sense solution

A blog by NPCC Lead for Children and Young People, Deputy Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney. 10 September 2015

I received an email from my old headmaster last week, who had heard me on the Radio 4 Today programme talking about ‘sexting’. He was empathising with this problem that both schools and the police are struggling with. I believe the police did not need to be involved in the situation featured at all – but had been called in because a 14 year old boy had ‘sexted’ a girl in his year group. As a police service, we have committed to the statement that ‘children are children first’ in all our interactions with them. Common sense tells me that we need to allow our young people to make mistakes and learn from them. We need to make sure that we have room within our societal systems, of which policing is one, for mistakes to be made and left behind rather than blighting adult life.

I have been inundated with similar examples from around the country and I am pleased there is a wider public debate. Before I go on, let me revisit the points I made in the media last week:

There are three separate decision points: first, whether to record a crime or not. The Home Office Counting Rules are very clear - if the school wishes the police to know about any incident, then ‘the police’ are informed and, consequently, a crime must be recorded. No ifs or buts. The rules are clear and we, as a service, lost considerable public confidence over the last couple of years when Police Recorded Crime was challenged. Many forces have moved mountains to improve and we cannot have it both ways. So, I believe the police service should abide by the rules because that is what the public ask for and deserve. But the rules can be changed and this week’s public debate seems to be calling for that.

The second decision point is the whether to investigate the crime and the extent of that investigation. In this case, there was no investigation – perfect. And mum was told – also great. As I speak with colleagues around the UK, I am seeing the erosion of professional conversations – whether dedicated schools officers or within a MASH (Multi-agency safeguarding hub). Partners are not talking to their police colleagues as freely as they once did – is this an unintended consequence of the same rules?

The third decision point comes much later, at the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The guidance tells a DBS decision-maker to consider the severity of activity, whether it was a pattern of behaviour, how long ago it was etc, establishing a principle of proportionality of disclosure. I see examples around the country which lead me to believe DBS is not consistently applied – this worries me for today’s young people.

The line between whether a child is a victim or an offender is a blurred one. The offence that they are committing of making and distributing an indecent image of a child is an offence that was created prior to the smartphone era within which we now live. It was intended for an adult who created and distributed images of a child, not for peer on peer images. If the young man was an adult then he could be a victim of revenge porn, but he is not as a child. Worse, if he is groomed by an adult and encouraged to send the photo through, the child may still be an offender on a crime report – an even more clear cut case which questions the wisdom of the current rules.

But let us not forget that the real harm which sexting causes is to the sender as well as the receiver. The embarrassment, bullying, and fear which is instilled when an intimate photo is in the Cloud forever should not be under-estimated. As a society we need to help people understand the value of privacy – the NSPCC and others do great work, but we know so many young people suffer this every day. This is a bigger problem than the police can solve – our role is to reduce crime, much of which means catching the offenders who commit it, and protecting the vulnerable, And young people are vulnerable because of their age – no ifs, or buts.

Sara Thornton Blog: Investigating burglary will always be a priority - Aug 2015

Sir Robert Peel’s first principle of law enforcement stated that the ‘basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.’ While much has changed since 1829, I think that there would still be broad agreement with that principle. The challenge is to ensure that what the police do in pursuit of that mission is both effective and efficient.

Over the last twenty years, evidence-based policing has followed evidence-based medicine in showing us how we can be most effective in achieving the overall purpose. There is no point in wasting public money on practices and activities that don’t work – in either policing or medicine. Chief constables will have to use the evidence to make difficult choices about their resources. In an interview last week on BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show, I used burglary as a tangible example of where operational practice could change - this was highly emotive because of the impact of this crime on victims.

Research has shown us how to prevent repeat burglaries and that taking basic crime prevention measures work. Burglary rates are now at their lowest for thirty years. Evidence also tells us what works in solving burglaries. Either officers get there quickly and catch the offenders red-handed or forensic evidence is gathered from the scene. If the offenders have fled the scene before the police are called then fingerprints, footwear marks and DNA could be gathered without sending an officer. At the very least, a professional scenes of crime officer is the most appropriate person to retrieve such evidence. But as we all have access to more technology it is easy to envisage how victims might be able to quickly upload photographs or video on to digital crime reports that could enable officers to be sent to catch the offender much more quickly. If we are to catch offenders with stolen property, we know that every minute counts as ‘hot property’ will be sold or passed on within hours.

Over the last five years, policing has focused on being more efficient – of doing more with less. Over the next five years, the service will have to do less with more focus. That will partly rely on doing what we know works but will also need us to look at the way we do things. We need to make systems less complicated and therefore cheaper. Are all the steps in a process really necessary? Does it make sense to send a uniformed officer to the scene of a burglary to take a statement and look for forensic evidence, then a scenes of crime officer to gather the forensic evidence and finally a detective to investigate the crime?

The response to my comments about how the police service could protect the public and solve burglary in the future has been significant. I have read the coverage carefully. Some have interpreted my comments as a lack of compassion for victims of crime. It is quite the opposite – nobody should have their home violated by thieves. I want to ensure that precious police resources are focused on what works so that we can be more effective in protecting potential victims. As a police officer, I would prefer to maintain police posts so we can provide victim support but I am realistic about future levels of resources, which mean that alternative approaches must be discussed with candour, no matter how difficult that is.

The police service exists to prevent crime and disorder and that has not changed. However, the way in which we fulfil this basic mission can change without risking the safety of the public. Preventing and investigating burglary will always be important - how and when we do that may have to change. It is important I am honest with the public about that.

Police Chiefs' Blog: Sara Thornton, Chief Constables Council July 2015

A future for local policing - Blog by CC Simon Cole, NPCC Lead on Local Policing

It was fascinating to read in yesterday’s Times the thoughts of Essex PCC Nick Alston on local policing, not least because they appeared on the same day that chief constables met in London to discuss just what 'local policing' means in 2015 and beyond. As ever the headline, 'Beat bobbies are an out of date luxury we cannot afford', was not exactly in kilter with some of the content of the article; 'Mr Alston said that he did not support the total abolition of neighbourhood response teams and civilian police community support officers as a level of visibility "gives confidence to the public".'

In London chief constables discussed austerity, the changing mix of police responsibilities (we spend almost 80% of our time dealing with non-crime matters highlighted by the public), the capabilities required in the digital age and the role of partners in delivering a public safety agenda that covers a broad set of challenges from anti-social behaviour through to supporting the more vulnerable members of society and counter-terrorism.

The evidence tells us that focussed local problem solving works. That evidence is being constantly enhanced by the College of Policing in their online 'What Works' centre: feel free to take a look at their website . The College are also looking, in a three year programme, at how best to manage the demand on the police, response policing, public participation and engagement, as well as embedding crime reduction. This was agreed by chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to be a priority piece of work for the emerging College: what does the evidence actually say?

Of course, the issue that Nick highlights is what exactly does 'local' policing mean in a world of internet enabled devices of every sort. 'Local' may mean a rural village, or a part of a city, or it may mean inhabiting an online, virtual world. What is certain is that the sight of a highly trained officer or PCSO in a bright yellow high-visibility jacket has its part to play in dealing with some issues: anti-social behaviour, night time economy policing, the feeling of community safety or deterrence, based on evidence from the Koper curve (The work of Dr Christopher Koper - a criminologist and evidence-based policing expert from George Mason University in Virginia - suggests that time-limited hotspot patrols have a preventative impact). What is equally certain is that such a visible on-street presence can only have a more limited impact in a world of online grooming, internet-enabled fraud and where the private lives of citizens are also, effectively, crime-scenes, such as in cases of child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse.

Perhaps perversely, in some instances the clarion call for more visibility may actually make communities less safe, because the threat to them is not best dealt with by presence alone. As the patrol walks down your street, your child may be being groomed on line. Of course if your child sees the police as a trusted presence then they may feel able to seek advice, or share their need for help.

In all of this, partnership working is key. The online threats are best dealt with through a mixture of education, information and enforcement. The Crime and Disorder Act still requires a combination of local councils, health providers, blue light services and volunteers to have plans for the prevention of crime and disorder. In many places, integrated offender management teams show how that can be achieved. Every partnership needs to ensure that local people are at the heart of their work, as often they have the best ideas on how to solve local problems.

If local policing remains overly rooted in the past then it will fade away. However, dynamic neighbourhood teams, integrated with other agencies, vigorously managing local offenders, using visibility as a focussed tactic, supported by mobile technology, with a new mix of skills and able to deal with the online threat, will engender public confidence and make us all safer in both the real and virtual world.

Some seem to hanker after Dixon of Dock Green in the age of Minority Reports. We would do well to remember that, in the film The Blue Lamp, Dixon was shot dead. His subsequent TV resurrection obscures the fact that he was ill equipped to face the threats posed in 1950. We must ensure that our local teams are equipped to mitigate the threats that communities face into 2020 and beyond.

Simon Cole QPM is Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police. He leads for the National Police Chiefs’ Council on Local Policing and Partnerships.

Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 8 July 2015

Life continues at pace in NPoCC with work on-going across a host of projects as well as maintaining business as usual to support day to day requests for mutual aid throughout the UK.

The first three months of this financial year has seen an 87% (1383 > 2576) increase in the number of officer shifts on mutual aid when compared to the same period in 2014 (Apr-June). The general election naturally played its part but we are seeing an overall increase in mutual aid demand.

Q1 infographic2

Despite this demand I have a great team of officers and staff who not only excel in their own right but more importantly excel as a team, delivering a quality national policing response to support the service.

On the theme of good work by officers I have made mention, in each of my previous blogs, of the tremendous work of UK Disaster Victim Identification (UK DVI). Detective Inspector Howard Way is part of that team and will soon acquire a new piece of silverware to proudly pin to his lapel after being awarded an OBE in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours. A timely honour for an officer who excels in a demanding role.

Mapping the capacity of specialist police skills across the service has remained a large part of our work in recent months. Having completed phase one of data capture for 130+ separate specialist police roles we have crunched the numbers and informed National Police Chief Council (NPCC) colleagues of what exists across the service and where it’s based.

As with any new project we’ve got some creases to iron out but this has never been done before in modern policing on such a large scale. Never has the service mapped police capacity across so many areas.

At a time when budgets continue to reduce it’s already clear that this information will be invaluable in helping inform force decisions around the sharing of officers and staff, collaboration, workforce planning, training and more, all of which allow the service to remain effective.

Phase two is now underway, this time supported with a national IT system we have developed allowing forces to easily upload information and for the first time they’ll be able to search and see what there is and where is it at the click of a button. Again, this has never been done before.

The work of our unit, as with any business, is aided by people’s awareness of who we are and what we do. Our ability to raise awareness of NPoCC is underpinned by a strong communications strategy underlining how we talk to our stakeholders both verbally and virtually! I’m a big user of social media but the grass roots basics of picking up the phone or better still, meeting someone face-to-face, should never be overlooked. The Twittersphere though is a great way to share and importantly have conversations with people, some who you don’t know and that invigorates me.

Last month members of the team attended the Police Federation Conference which proved hugely beneficial for talking with officers on the ground about what we do who in turn take this knowledge back to their force.

We also ensure the team regularly get out to meet and brief officers and staff in the regions they support. The feedback they get from these visits and the type of relationship this builds is immeasurable.

Looking ahead we’ll also have a presence at both this year’s Emergency Services Show (@emergencyukshow) and the Police Superintendent’s Conference in September.

Work has also continued in earnest around our function to test and exercise mobilisation and in particular the services ability to supply public order officers where they are needed and in good time. So far the results are very positive.

It’s clear that as a service we are equipped to respond quickly during times of crisis. We continue to link in with those running exercises throughout the UK, including last week’s largest ever CT exercise (Operation Strong Tower), to ensure consideration is given to the wider effect on the service during a major incident.

Looking ahead there is a busy summer of events and festivals coming up, the beginning of a new football season which naturally brings an increase in demand for policing high profile games, a Rugby World Cup to look forward to, all of which will require a policing response, and of course there is always the unpredictable which I predict will happen! We are also in the process of having our legal collaboration agreement (Sec 22a) agreed and signed by 54 police forces and agencies across the UK ensuring we operate on a formal legal standing.

Here at NPoCC we’ll continue to do all we can to assist forces where additional support is required as well as continuing to drive forward all the work mentioned.

Follow Chris on Twitter: @CmdrChrisGreany

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh: We have to think digital, 11 June 2015

In the last twenty years, crime has undergone a change more significant and fundamental than we’ve ever experienced before. We’ve always adapted to changing trends in crime but with over 80 per cent of adults in the UK now regularly using the internet it is not just the types of crime that have changed; it’s the entire world in which we have to fight them.


Crimes on and involving the internet can be just as damaging and life-altering to victims as they would be in the physical world and they are happening and being reported at an ever increasing rate. As criminals find new and innovative ways to use technology and the internet to commit fraud, exploit children, harass people and buy and sell illegal goods, law enforcement must be just as innovative and technically capable in our efforts to combat it.

In April, chief constables agreed a new approach to improve the way we police in the digital age, using the Digital Intelligence and Investigation Framework. The Capabilities Management Group (CMG) was formed, bringing together the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Home Office, the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency.

The CMG is a multi-agency effort to bring digital intelligence and investigation into the mainstream of what the police service does. It not only looks at the best way to address the threat of cybercrime, but also how policing can embrace new technology and the digital world to improve our service to the public, communicate better, gather evidence and prevent and detect crime.

In the modern world, many crimes will require some form of digital investigation regardless of whether the crime itself has taken place online. An officer may need to access a conversation log on social media to find evidence that a violent assault was premeditated or review footage of a crime that has been uploaded to the internet from a camera phone by a member of the public. It is no longer enough to just have a few specialist officers capable of conducting these investigations. It has to become our bread and butter with the skills and technology widespread and readily available across the service. There was a time when forensics were an alien concept to all but a few trained officers but now every officer has the knowledge and ability to capture forensic evidence. Soon digital investigation will be the same.

If policing is going to have a relevant and effective presence in the digital world, the key to our success will be our ability to embrace and apply new technology quickly. By bringing all the relevant agencies together regularly, the CMG can ensure that decision makers are working face to face to identify and approve new technology so we can get it into the hands of police officers as quickly as possible. It also allows us to collectively consider any ethical concerns and ensure that decisions stand up to public scrutiny.

Over the coming months the CMG will be:

  • Defining the core capabilities for all police forces to ensure frontline officers and staff are equipped to respond to the digital revolution
  • Working with the College of Policing to define digital skills and career paths
  • Building a better evidence base about the changing nature of crime and the impact it has on the demand the police service faces
  • Building stronger relationships with academia and industry to look at how to law enforcement can get ahead of criminals in the digital world, and stay ahead.

The challenge facing us is a great one but so are the potential opportunities. We will not be overwhelmed. The digital world cannot be ignored and left to become a Wild West. A failure to protect people online would be a failure to provide the service expected of us. I am confident that the formation of the CMG will be a significant step towards ensuring that law enforcement evolves to meet the challenges of the modern world to keep the public safe.

CC Jane Sawyers: International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), 15 May 2015

Every year since 2004, different organisations have come together on 17 May to stand against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. The date is significant as it marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s decision in May 1990 to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In the UK, this change was made seventeen years earlier in 1973.

Both events were key moments when homosexuality broke free from decades of medical, psychiatric and psychological experimentation and intrusion into the lives of LGB&T people. It marked a historic step towards achieving basic human rights.

In November 2014 I was appointed as the national lead for LGB&T issues across the police service. Since then, I have been hugely impressed by the support I have received and the dedication and enthusiasm of staff, who often give up their own time for the greater good of our profession and the communities we serve.

The experience of LGB&T officers has changed dramatically over recent decades. However, there is much more to be done. Incidents of homophobia in the police service, whilst infrequent, still happen and some forces lack a visible staff network. Dealing with these issues requires joined-up leadership and I am in the fortunate position of being able to talk to fellow chief officers, raising these concerns and driving forward best practice.

Organisationally, many police leaders still need to ‘get it’, particularly in terms of why it is important to provide a welcoming environment for LGB&T workers. There are some fantastic senior lesbian role models but far fewer senior gay models and hardly any senior transgender officers or staff. For this reason, we are engaging with the College of Policing’s ‘Leadership Review’ on increasing diversity and representation at the highest levels. We are also working alongside Stonewall and the Police Superintendents’ Association for England and Wales to formulate a bespoke LGB&T national leadership development programme and a scheme of police role models open to all ranks and grades.

Earlier this year I launched the new LGB&T Police Network for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. This was attended by over 38 forces and represents a fantastic achievement which I wholeheartedly welcome. We know from research that two in five officers are not ‘out’ and men, in particular, appear to face difficulties. For some it may be a personal choice but it is important to explore these subtle issues further, as our people should feel able to be open and authentic in the workplace. I hope the new network will play a key role in ensuring officers and staff can always be themselves.

Looking at the wider picture, LGB&T communities still face many challenges in society and day-to-day life. Although hatred on the grounds of sexual discrimination has been criminalised, I am determined to see our response to hate crime improve and made more consistent. We have already engaged with all 13 Crown Prosecution Service national hate crime leads on this matter and the new government may choose to review existing legislation to ensure there are no gaps.

Having recently met with the National Trans Police Association, transgender issues will be at the forefront our future work. The service is now better at dealing with gender recognition data but there is a pressing need to refresh police guidance on the Gender Recognition Act and practical issues around custody need to be addressed.

I am confident that we are moving forward in our efforts to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Please join me in recognising the significance of IDAHO to the police service and why our role is so vital to LGB&T communities.

Martin Hewitt: Building on the success of the Not Guilty campaign, 11 May 2015

notguiltyThe bravery shown by Ione Wells and other victims of sexual assault in recent weeks has been truly inspiring.

The #NotGuilty campaign, which has gained huge support after Ione wrote a heartfelt open letter to the man who sexually assaulted her that was published in the Cherwell Oxford student newspaper, has empowered hundreds of victims to speak out about their experiences and affirm the message that the only person to blame for a sexual assault is the offender.

I admire the people that have stepped forward as part of this campaign, but we have to question the circumstances that make it necessary in the first place.

Across our society, judgements are still made about victims and how they came to be raped. The way somebody is dressed, how much they’ve had to drink and walking home alone are still factors people point to in rationalising why a person has become a victim of a violent and traumatic attack. Indeed, even members of our own criminal justice service, including police officers, have been found to possess some of these attitudes in the past, but let me be clear there is no place for these views in modern society, or policing.

Such claims become even more toxic when they deter other victims from coming to the police through fear that they won’t be believed or, far worse, that they will be blamed. Research tells us that only about 20 per cent of those who are raped or sexually assaulted report it to the police. This means that the vast majority of victims have no opportunity to access justice and rapists who commit such horrendous acts are avoiding prosecution.

We want more people who are raped or sexually abused to report it to us so that we can help them access criminal justice, disrupt and prosecute offenders, and most importantly provide a route into other specialist support services to assist survivors in their recovery. An accurate profile of offending will also help us do all that we can to prevent abuse from taking place.

In the past, the police approach has not been good enough and victims have not had the confidence to come forward, but in recent years we have made significant improvements.

Our focus is now squarely on victims of abuse and their needs. We’ve trained specialist officers, introduced early evidence kits, provided greater access to sexual assault referral centres and worked much more closely with specialist support services. I personally have been working closely with the Director for Public Prosecutions to drive through an action plan which addresses some of the key issues in the criminal justice system that may have been preventing some rape cases from resulting in a successful prosecution.

Recent statistics have shown that reporting of sexual offences are up by 32 per cent over the last year, with prosecution and conviction rates also rising. This shows that we are moving in the right direction. Many more victims are now coming forward knowing that they will be listened to, treated sensitively and with respect and that their allegations will be taken seriously, but there is still more work to do.

I hope that the #NotGuilty campaign helps other people who’ve been abused to feel that they aren’t alone or to blame and encourages them to share their experiences with family or friends and seek help to deal with what has happened. There should never be pressure placed on a victim to wave anonymity, but where they choose to do so that is a brave decision that we should support.

From a police perspective, I would like to build on this campaign by calling on survivors of abuse to trust the police and report crimes to us. The most important thing is helping victims of abuse to become survivors. For some that may be through the criminal justice system. For others waiving their anonymity and campaigning to help others. Whichever route is right for them, the police and society must support them.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Adult Sexual Offences, Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt.

Image credit: Ione Blythe Wells/Instagram

Commander Chris Greany NPoCC Blog, 3 March 2015

Chris GreanyHaving been here nearly six months things have begun to settle a bit now. We are fortunate that we have had a small gap between large events which has allowed us to focus on a key piece of work to fully understand the capacity and capability of specialist UK police roles. Everyone recognises the importance of knowing this information but the task is a big one. More to say on that in a moment.

UK Disaster Victim Identification (UK DVI) also now sits within NPoCC and my colleagues in this unit have been extremely busy with the very challenging work around the MH17 Malaysian Airlines disaster in the Ukraine. Again, more on that a little later.

I really want to start by looking back on 2014. NPoCC has yet to have its second birthday and despite all of its successes in helping support policing operations of large events, we are still finding our way in the policing and political landscape. I am keen to stress that we are at the beginning of the journey of UK police coordination and it will take time for NPoCC to fully evolve. 2014 was a huge year for us and the service as a whole stepped up, as it always does, to meet national demands.

So what did we get up to in 2014?

2014 Performance Infographic

None of this would have been possible without creating good solid relationships with all our partners and part of my goal is to continue to strengthen these in order to provide a solid platform for the work we do.

Most noticeable for me is just how much day to day mobilisation is taking place across the UK. It isn’t just the obvious areas, such as public order policing; but a huge raft of specialist policing areas. This can be viewed in two ways, not enough to go round or an efficient way to use limited specialist resources. For me it is the latter and NPoCC has a key role to play in coordinating this.

I touched earlier on the work we are doing in support of Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, the National Policing Lead on the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR), to understand capacity and capability of specialist policing roles. British policing is going through huge changes at local and regional level as austerity really starts to bite and forces have to make local decisions that may, if we don’t have a clear understanding of capacity, affect our ability to effectively respond to national emergencies, events or crisis.

NPoCC is currently mapping a wide range of specialist assets so we can really see what we have across the UK and where it is. This will help forces make decisions with the clearest understanding of what exists without undermining national capacity. It is not a quick or simple process. Policing is incredibly complex with many specialists at force and local level working on national threats such as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), fraud and cybercrime. Many officers wear many hats, so how do we know what is available and what affect it has when they are used in one of their roles over another? This will take us time to develop but as the data builds we will have the clearest ever understanding to assist mapping out future requirements.

Despite having sometimes limited local specialist assets, forces respond brilliantly to do all they can to meet the national demand to help the greater good. This is not always easy, especially when linked to an ever increasing local political accountability model. The Police and Crime Commissioner’s are also very supportive. There is sometimes tension, which is normal in the world in which we work, but it simply emphasises the importance of the strong relationships we work hard to build. This is true in so much of what we do in policing.

I also touched on UK DVI in my opening which now sits within NPoCC. I have two remarkable officers who coordinate this work on behalf of the UK, yes that’s right just two people! They ensure that the UK response to disasters and mass fatalities is coordinated and that police forces across the UK work to support the difficult job of helping understand what happened when an incident occurs and the traumatic task of bringing home the loved ones of people who have died in often tragic circumstances.

DVI is a highly complex and specialised skill, one that police officers volunteer to do on top of their everyday jobs. The UK DVI team are funded in part by the police, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office and I often reflect on what very good value for money they are. I can’t think of any other country that could get so much for so little. Like in many parts of policing, incredible individuals doing incredible work.

We have a big change on the horizon when we move to be hosted by the Metropolitan Police in April. Hosted means we will remain independent but will buy in support services for certain areas such as finance and HR. It sounds simple but it is a complex process which will be underpinned by a legal Sec 22a collaborative agreement. This will need the signatures of all 43 Chief Constables and 43 PCC’s together with a lot of help from lawyers but I am cautiously optimistic that we will get his formally agreed within a reasonable time scale. Once again, this will only happen because of the strong relationships we have built and in the value placed on the work we do to support UK policing.

Finally, it just leaves me to welcome to my new boss Chief Constable Sara Thornton who will soon be the first Chair of the new National Police Chiefs’ Council, which launches in April, and the overall link between NPoCC and the Chief Constables’ Council who we work on behalf of.

This link ensures that police coordination at a strategic and tactical level is seamless and has the support of the whole service.

As always you can see what both myself and NPoCC are up to by following me on;


You can also e-mail me any feedback of questions to:

Shaun Sawyer: Smashing the bonds of modern slavery remains a policing priority

The police service across the UK is committed to combating modern slavery, which is a global problem with an estimated 20-30 million victims worldwide. Contrary to common belief modern slavery is prevalent even here in our own country. It is has recently been estimated that there are currently between 10-13,000 victims of slavery in the UK.

Modern slavery is now estimated to be the 2 nd largest illicit trade worldwide. The International Labour Organisation recently estimated that labour exploitation alone was worth $150bn worldwide per annum.

As the national policing lead for modern slavery I have been working with the government, police forces, other law enforcement agencies and wider partnerships for us all to improve our response to modern slavery. For the Police, our overriding focus is to improve our ability to identify, rescue and support victims and in doing so ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.

The Home Office has worked to develop improved legislation through the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill, which, once enacted, will provide law enforcement agencies in the UK with a greater opportunity and stronger framework to protect victims, bring offenders to justice and recover illicit assets. The recent appointment of an Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner will assist in ensuring all agencies work efficiently and effectively in the fight against slavery.

The national modern slavery portfolio within the police service has developed a national action plan, with a view to improving our operational and strategic responses to this heinous crime. The plan covers the full process from preventative measures right the way through to prosecution. This has been presented to ACPO Crime Business Area and Chief Constables’ Council.

Over the next 12 months I have identified a number of key objectives which will form the bedrock on which we develop the means by which we deliver the wider action plan.

  1. Training, awareness and guidance: Working with the College of Policing – the professional body which looks after training and standards in policing - I have focussed on developing awareness, knowledge and expertise aimed at improving the quality of victim identification, victim care, investigations and prosecutions. This work has concentrated on delivering a variety of options from basic awareness packages through to bespoke training programmes for investigators. To ensure these programmes are properly supported, we are developing an operational manual of guidance and online resources providing a library of related documents, case study examples and the opportunity for online discussion. The College will soon be putting out to consultation a plan for what we refer to as Authorised Professional Practice – the officially accredited practical guidance which police are expected to follow in dealing with a particular crime type – on the topic of modern slavery, and we expect it to be brought into force very soon.
  2. Improved data: Through improvements in the way in which we gather and manage data and intelligence we will develop a greater strategic understanding both nationally and at a more localised level, which in turn will lead to improvements in our tactical response. It is vital that we develop the best possible picture of how modern slavery manifests itself across the country. I will be introducing new national processes which will not only focus on the hard data but will also introduce de-briefing measures to gather more of the context of this crime, and thus enrich our understanding.
  3. Partnership working: Policing cannot tackle this problem alone and the importance of developing partnership approaches cannot be underemphasised. The police are experts at catching criminals and bringing perpetrators to justice, but this is a small part of the fight against modern slavery. We must recognise that Modern Slavery is not an issue we can prosecute our way out of.

I cannot overstate the commitment of the police service to this endeavour. Over 200 years on from our nation’s abolition of slavery, it is unacceptable that people still live in slavery. With a mixture of good intelligence, better understanding of the crime type and an enhanced legislative framework, we in the police can play our fullest role in keeping victims safe and bringing traffickers to justice. But we can always do with more help from the public. Please visit the Home Office modern slavery website: , study how to spot the signs of modern slavery and, if you have the slightest suspicion that there is a crime happening in your area, contact the national modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700, your local police on 101 (or 999 if someone is in imminent danger) or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice on Modern Slavery is available here.

Pat Geenty: Take care of yourself and your property this Christmas, 12 Dec 2014

Christmas is a time for celebrating, relaxing and treating yourself and others. Sadly, not everybody shares the festive spirit, and every time the season comes around we see a sharp and unwelcome rise in crime.

Burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud and violence all surge in the winter months, placing a substantial burden on emergency services and causing misery to people at a time meant for celebration. Police will be working tirelessly across the country so that you can enjoy your Christmas, but we can all take simple measures that will go a long way towards protecting ourselves and our property. We can’t change the fact that some people are sadly and selfishly out to ruin the holidays, but we can certainly make sure that they don’t get an easy ride!

Criminals take advantage of the darker nights, hoping to steal the high value goods people may buy in the lead up to Christmas. Unlit houses are a give-away that no one is home, so set a timer switch to turn your lights on and off when it gets dark. Lock all doors and windows, even when at home, and invest in a good burglar alarm and remember to set it. Don’t leave valuables or keys near windows, doors or letter boxes where burglars can reach through and steal them. You should also ensure that cars are secure and, if possible, parked in a well lit place. It is largely thanks to increased vigilance and security measures in our homes that we have seen reports of burglary decrease by nearly a half in the last decade, but this should not distract householders from the ongoing need to keep their home secure.

But, of course, it’s 2014 and crime and criminals evolve. Thieves won’t need to be crouched under your Christmas tree to deprive you of your hard-earned gifts this year. They won’t even need to be on the same continent. Last year, tens of thousands of people sadly fell victim to online fraud in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and even more are at risk of suffering the same fate this year – being left hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of pounds out of pocket. 74% of adults in the UK have purchased goods or services online this year. If possible use online retailers you know and trust. Major brands will have a list of authorised sellers on their websites; so when you find that computer console or those shoes at a price that is too good to be true, you can check if that website is selling them legitimately.

Fraudsters may also try to contact you by phone to trick you into giving them bank details. The police and banks will NEVER ask you to give your PIN or bank details out over the phone, or ask you to send your bank cards or cash to them via a courier or taxi. If you have any suspicions about something that you are being asked to do; hang up the phone, wait for five minutes to ensure that the phone line clears and then report the call to the police or your bank.

Christmas e-cards can also pose a threat, with cyber-criminals using them to transfer computer viruses that collect personal data, financial information, passwords and usernames that can then be used to commit fraud. If you receive an anonymous e-card, it is best to play it safe and delete the email without opening it. You should also use a reputable anti-virus product on your electronic devices and ensure that it is regularly updated and always turned on. For more information about online fraud and how to protect yourself, visit

Excessive alcohol consumption is another big challenge to policing and other emergency services throughout Christmas, leading to more anti-social behaviour and violence in town centres, domestic violence and drink-driving. Police will be out in force to ensure that those people who don’t take responsibility for themselves don’t get the opportunity to spoil the holidays for others. People found to be too heavily intoxicated may be asked to leave town centres, and some clubs and bars will be breathalysing people on entry. Alcohol is often the cause of crime, but it is never an excuse.

Please, enjoy yourself. Celebrate in the company of family and friends but if you drink – do so responsibly.

On behalf of ACPO, I wish you a safe and happy Christmas.

Pat Geenty is the National Policing Lead for Crime Prevention and the Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police.

Commander Chris Greany: My first eight weeks

Almost eight weeks in and, like many others, I have scoured the web seeking out advice on mastering the best way to write a blog but soon realised that there is no set way. One thing I picked up is, “Writing blog posts people want to read is a matter of speaking honestly and openly about a subject you're passionate about”. That seems simple enough!

So first thing first, NPoCC of course. If I am honest, I am just starting to fully understand where and how it fits within UK policing. I am seeing how my role helps knit together chief constables, PCCs and government stakeholders so that we have a good overview of policing capability that can, if required, be mobilised to support the national policing response to large scale operations and events. That doesn’t mean we are redundant outside of crisis though. A friend of mine said to me “what do you do all day when there isn’t a crisis ?”. Every week NPoCC helps to arrange for forces to borrow officers with specialist skills from other forces when they need them, which assists in the prevention and detection of crime and keeping the public safe.

In the last couple of months, we have provided regional and national mutual aid for specialist search capability, helicopter pilots, public order officers and even specialist detectives.

Some may say “hang on a minute aren’t there enough specialists in police forces?” and often there are but sharing specialist assets across policing at times of over-demand is the most efficient and effective way, rather than having skills waiting to be utilised.

UK Disaster Victim Identification (UK DVI) also sits within NPoCC with officers and staff from across the UK supporting the investigation into the Malaysian Airliner crash over the Ukraine. They work in difficult and dangerous conditions to support the UK policing response.

Another major programme NPoCC is undertaking, in support of Chief Constable Peter Vaughan, is mapping specialist policing skills so that there is central inventory of the skills in policing nationwide. The only way British policing can understand if it has the national capacity to deal with the threats faced is to undertake this mapping. This will then allow us to see how we can best meet the threats outlined in the Strategic Policing Requirement and, in a time of financial challenges, be efficient whilst maintaining effectiveness. Put simply, have we got enough skills and experience in the right place to meet the demands we face nationally?

Staff recruitment is also a real challenge, especially a role like analysts. We seem to struggle against market forces where the private sector can pay more if it chooses. It makes it hard sometimes to keep really valuable staff. If our staff are that good, should we not be able to pay them the going rate to stop them leaving? Controversial or good sense? Job stability is also a factor for some, especially when living in London.

I have also been busy meeting existing and new partners including the Home Office, whom of course provide our funding, but also the Civil Contingencies Secretariat and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. National Policing Lead for Civil Contingencies, Assistant Chief Constable ACC Paul Netherton has been helping me understand how we plan and prepare for emergencies in the UK. He also took me to my first COBR exercise on Ebola, where I learnt an enormous amount which will help me when I have to go alone!

It has also been a pleasure getting to know my other assistant chief constable colleagues around the UK who head up the Regional Information & Coordination Centres (RICC’s), which act as a link to forces for NPoCC when mutual aid is requested.

I recently attended the launch of a new book called “Beyond the Call of Duty: Untold Stories of Britain’s Bravest Police Officers” written by Ben Ando, a BBC journalist, and Nick Kinsella, a former Detective Chief Superintendent. Some of the officers written about were there and their bravery is humbling.

One of the stories was about unarmed officers pursuing and tackling armed criminals who had already shot at them. Every day a largely unarmed police service heads out with no idea what dangers they will face, sometimes with tragic consequences, yet despite that they continue to serve and protect communities. Sometimes it’s worth pausing and remembering all the very good things that British policing does, 365 days a year, day and night. For every book purchased, a donation also goes to the Police Dependant's Trust , which was set up after the murder of three police officers in Shepherds Bush in 1966.

Sadly my new boss, Sir Hugh Orde, has announced his retirement. Here is someone who has been a dedicated police leader for over nearly 38 years and is driven by doing good for the police service and the public we serve. It is not until you work with someone that you see exactly what they do. Amongst many things, Sir Hugh was the man who reformed policing in Northern Ireland, sometimes we forget this. I will miss him.

I have also been trying to get into Twitter. I try and balance some facts with good humour and humility. I am still very much a learner and have been direct messaged by well meaning friends and followers over spelling mistakes - thanks for your openness and feedback! Twitter etiquette is also a tricky one, I didn’t follow one person who followed me and they got most upset! Sorry..

CG2Last week I met Malachi Tyler , a little boy blinded through inoperable brain tumours. His issues have really struck a chord with me and many colleagues in the police, especially those on Kingston Borough, and we are doing all we can to support his family. Ahead of a new round of chemotherapy in January, we arranged a special day out for him and his family last week with a visit to Downing Street, a meet and greet with the police horses at Great Scotland Yard, an opportunity to run NPoCC for the afternoon and a visit to Scotland Yard.

None of this would have been possible without the love and support of police officers, staff and the very many friendly faces at Downing Street, so thank you for making it a great day.

Government data indicates over 11 million people in the UK have some form of disability, up to one million being children. There are some excellent charities out there who will work with the police on this; one is Changing Faces and another is the National Mentoring Consortium , both of whom do an amazing job and have really helped me and my former force, the City of London Police, develop a clearer understanding of things.

I welcome any feedback or questions on my blog to or on Twitter @CmdrChrisGreany

Simon Cole: Police seek more reports of disability hate crime

Is it me, or does the joyous celebration that was the Paralympics seem a long, long time ago? There has been a fair amount of coverage in the media recently regarding the police approach to disability hate crime. Coverage which has, in general, given the impression that we are doing very little to tackle this crime and support victims. As the National Policing Lead for Disability, I am keen to dispel this myth and highlight some of the good work ongoing across the country to improve the way that we deal with this abhorrent crime.

The media coverage highlighted that many victims of disability hate crime still don’t have the confidence in the police, or the accessibility, to report it. There is little doubt from work done by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission that the overall levels of reported incidents do not reflect the true extent of people’s lived experiences. It seems an obvious point to make but the police can only investigate incidents, and show people that we take hate crimes seriously and are committed to tackling it, if it is reported. The True Vision website was created to simplify the reporting process for these crimes, and we would urge anyone who feels they have been victimised, and members of the public who witness such incidents, to report it to the police by calling 101, or online at . The hate crime statistics published by the Home Office today show that we are moving in the right direction, with nearly an 8 per cent increase in reports of disability hate crime over the last year.

Of course, there is more work to be done and the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report; “Hidden in Plain Sight”, identified areas for improvement in 2011. Since this report police have made progress in improving our service, with focus on speaking to disabled people to understand the types of harassment they face, why they don’t feel confident reporting it and what we can do to remove those barriers.

The police service has to be accessible to everyone, regardless of their individual needs. I have urged all police chiefs to sign up to the British Sign Language Charter, which pledges to improve access for deaf people to services, promotes sign language and encourages regular consultations with the deaf community. I am also working to establish Communities of Practice through the College of Policing focusing on accessibility, autism and dementia and I’ve written to chief constables for an update on the progress of forces in this area. The National Autism Society has also been complimentary of our progress, stating that they are pleased with the measures taken by police so far to improve understanding of autism.

I would also like to promote the good work of Lancashire Constabulary, which I will be encouraging other forces to adopt in their attempts to tackle disability hate crime. The Lancashire model initially records all crime against a disabled person as a potential hate crime incident. This has led to a huge increase in reported, rather than actual, incidents. The EHRC report stated that police were failing to correctly identify incidents as disability hate crime, and I feel that the Lancashire model will go a long way towards improving this. The Disability Hate Crime Network has praised this approach, which they feel increases the confidence of disabled people to report to the police.

I am confident that we are moving in the right direction and the actions agreed in response to the 2011 EHRC report, with the full backing and commitment of chief constables and the support of the College of Policing, are being implemented. Our understanding of disability hate crime, from the perpetrators, to the victims, to the witnesses, is improving all the time, but I must stress again that it will only be through increased reporting that we can further combat disability hate crime and continue to improve our approach.

The ACPO and College of Policing “EHRC Out in the open: A manifesto for change” can be found here:

Commander Chris Greany - New Head of NPoCC, 23 September 2014

Chris GreanyAs the new Head of The National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) I’d like to introduce myself to you and tell you more about my plans and priorities. This is the first in a regular series of blog posts I am planning.

NPoCC is a new unit opened last year by the then Policing minister Damian Green MP and overseen by ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde.

The NPoCC team coordinates police officers and staff from across UK policing to support forces during large scale events and operations and in times of national crisis. They ensure the right people are in the right place at the right time.

Recent work includes supporting the police response to the large scale flooding earlier this year, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the NATO summit in Gwent & South Wales, all the time working to support the requirements of Chief Constables.

The NPoCC team is also mapping the specialist police skills available across the country so that Chief Constables are aware of what skills and expertise are available regionally and nationally. This work will allow the police service to make best and most efficient use of its specialist resources while policing budgets reduce.

I’m looking forward to building on the great work done by my predecessor ACC Stuart Williams and the team and I am keen to develop NPoCC as the “go to” place for Chief Constables when they need additional support.

Police And Communities Working Together To End FGM, 3rd July 2014

On the day that the Home Affairs Select Committee publish the report of their inquiry into Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), National Policing Lead for Honour-Based Violence, Forced Marriage and FGM, Commander Mak Chishty has spoken of the large amount of positive activity with communities and other outside partners which is helping the police understand and better tackle this horrific act.

I have noted with interest the findings of the Home Affairs Select Committee in their report on FGM.

I strongly welcome the fact that many of the recommendations which ACPO has made in relation to improving the legal framework supporting FGM detection and prevention, such as FGM Protection Orders, a review of female genital cosmetic surgery and a recommendation to place the FGM multi-agency practice guidelines on a statutory footing, have been adopted by the committee.

It is important to reiterate that there is a massive amount of work being done by the police service around the country to prevent the victimisation of women and girls through this harmful practice.

Our strategy has always been to raise awareness, educate families and communities, work closely with partner organisations, while seeking out all possible prosecution opportunities.

Officers are trained, through the College of Policing, in spotting the signs of FGM and are working to investigate it in a sensitive and caring manner, with an approach that puts the victim or potential victim firmly at the centre of our work.

In addition, specialist teams deal specifically with safeguarding, working to nationwide common principles, but also tailoring their approach to the needs and requirements of the communities in which they work locally.

Let me highlight some of the local ways in which forces are participating in this nationwide work:

Derbyshire Police have implemented training programmes and are developing an FGM action plan. They have also activated safeguarding procedures following three referrals from maternity services and have been taking part in community events on honour-based violence and FGM.

Northumbria Police have had meetings with local healthcare representatives to have in-depth discussions on FGM and encourage reporting of cases where there is the fear that FGM may have taken place. They are mapping communities to identify risk areas, developing local policy on the topic and have requested the development of a separate flagging system for FGM in their crime reports. They are developing a communications strategy and participating in safeguarding boards.

West Midlands Police have had FGM firmly on their agenda for many years, with training on dealing with FGM on the syllabus for detectives and child abuse specialists for five years. They have supported anti-FGM conferences, distributed posters to schools, surgeries and community centres, conducted web-chats on the topic, offered training to school representatives and are continuously working to improve their working practices in partnership with outside organisations, communities and the CPS, as well as sharing good practice with other forces. They are also an active member of the Birmingham Against FGM group, and have been for many years.

Greater Manchester Police are members of the FGM Greater Manchester Partners’ Forum and have also conducted a leafleting campaign among communities. They have been developing very sound working practices on a policing level and include FGM prevalence and FGM profiles in their reporting. They have also been developing initiatives for use in schools.

Meanwhile, further south, Avon and Somerset Police are also involved in their local FGM Safeguarding Partnership and have conducted summer awareness campaigns, supported a locally-produced play designed to raise awareness of the programme, sent representatives to an FGM Zero Tolerance Day event, have developed and implemented e-learning packages for officers, have highlighted the issue with their local media and have even advised the BBC on an FGM storyline for a special two-part edition of Casualty, which is filmed in the Bristol area.

Of course, these are all just examples from a small number of forces of additional activities which aid and supplement core policing work in this area – keeping people safe and cutting crime. But the two must be and are complementary with the work in our towns and communities.

Several airside operations at airports have resulted in a number of fruitful investigations and a lot of awareness-raising through the distributing of information leaflets and the very helpful ‘FGM Passport’ which carries key information on the law and support available.

The police are working very closely with the NSPCC's Childline and their dedicated FGM helpline, which has an increasing number of reports being made to it.

I am as concerned as the select committee about the low level of prosecutions to date, but that does not mean that the problem is not being addressed. All reports are taken seriously and investigated fully, and all those incidents of FGM and/or FGM-related crime activity are now referred to the CPS for a review of the evidence. All 42 forces in England and Wales have agreed a protocol with the CPS for the investigation and prosecution of FGM offences. In addition I have made it clear that anyone involved in the chain of events leading to FGM, anyone who aids and abets it will be subject to robust investigation with a view to prosecution. This includes those who knowingly facilitate the practice through money-lending and arranging travel and so forth.

We have produced, with the CPS and, soon, with the involvement of the College of Policing, a specific training course for the effective investigation and prosecution of FGM and forced marriage offences. This training commenced on 10th February 2014.

FGM is a serious crime, which requires serious policing responses. The police service is dedicated to eradicating this harmful child abuse practice within our shores and supporting those living with the effects of it. This is a stance shared by all levels of the service, from those who can and do provide leadership within forces, down to officers and non-warranted officers on the ground. Our work continues apace.

Gareth Pritchard - Changes to dangerous dogs legislation - 16 May 2014

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.

Today’s blog comes from Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Pritchard from North Wales Police, who is a national police lead for dangerous dogs.

The deaths of 12 children and eight adults since 2005 in incidents involving dangerous dogs have rightly raised public concern.

In the UK, there are between eight and 10 million dogs, with 110,000 strays being dealt with each year, costing £57m to the taxpayer and animal charities.

Annually, 6,000 persons seriously injured in dog attacks which require hospital treatment. In addition, 3,000 postal workers are attacked every year, 70 per cent of which occur on private property.

The above demonstrates the scale of the problem, but for me it is the effect on children which is most profound, with many suffering very serious facial injuries which create a legacy of fear and can have a profound effect on a child’s confidence as they grow.

We also know that dogs have been capable of far worse when in the care of an irresponsible owner - and there are grieving families still numb from loss to prove it.

Children are extremely vulnerable to dog attack, not only due to their size, but also their unpredictable behaviour around dogs and their inability to understand warning signals.

The new legislation in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides an opportunity to improve the situation.

Of these 20 deaths, 16 occurred on private property. The amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 now changes the law to apply to ‘any place’ instead of ‘public place.’ This change is very welcome as many cases of death and serious injury from dog attacks have not resulted in proceedings in the criminal justice system.

My fellow police officers have reported being extremely frustrated with their lack of powers to investigate dog attacks involving serious injuries. This new power will protect workers who visit people’s homes to provide essential services such as; health visitors, midwives, utility workers and postal staff, all who have to date been unprotected.

This new legislation gives added protection to guide dogs too, along with other dogs recognised as ‘assistance dogs.`

The Guide Dogs Association estimates that 10 of their dogs are attacked each month. It is appreciated how devastating an attack on an assistance dog can be not only to the animal, of course, but to its owner, who relies on their dog every day.

Each assistance dog costs £50,000 to train to the level needed to support a person with limited vision. The new legislation offers additional protection for attacks on assistance dogs which sentencing being available for up to three years.

The Act addresses and improves sentencing, the maximum penalty for the owner of a dog who kills a person is increased from two years to 14 years. Where a person is injured by a dog, the maximum sentence is also increased from two years to five years.

There are a small minority of people who use powerful dogs as status symbols to cause fear and apprehension.

Gang members use certain dogs to protect their operations or their assets which causes anxiety within their community.

The new legislation will hold these individuals to account and has also given provisions to assess whether the individual is fit to be in charge of a dog, and minimise the risk to the public.

Many of these provisions seek to encourage responsible dog ownership in our communities.

Additionally, microchipping will become compulsory in Wales in 2015 and in England the following year. This is primarily a welfare measure but it does seek to hold dog owners to account.

There are currently opportunities available for free microchipping by a number of animal welfare organisations.

Later this year, new Anti-Social Behaviour proposals will be enacted which will give further tools for police and local authorities to deal proportionately and effectively with dog control issues. There are many localities and parks where the lack of effective dog control causes concern to the community.

This limits the ability of adults and children to enjoy the freedom to use their local amenities without apprehension or fear of a dog attack.

The vast majority of dog owners are responsible people who care for their animals and ensure that welfare is prioritised. Owning a dog enhances many people’s lives and they are a healthy part of any community.

I welcome these new provisions as they allow the police, working with local authorities and animal welfare organisations, to improve dog control, encourage responsible dog ownership and improve public safety.

Francis Habgood - Building trust in crime recording, 14 April 2014

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.

Today’s blog comes from Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood from Thames Valley Police, who is a national police lead for inspection regimes.

The findings of the committee and their report’s interpretation in the media leave many questions unanswered. I have tried to answer some of them below.

Why is there under-recording and why does it matter?

Accurate crime figures are essential to allow police resources to be directed effectively and inform the public of crime trends in their area. Chief constables need and want accurate crime data.

It is also vital that the public trust that if they are victim of crime it will be recorded accurately, investigated fully and that police will take appropriate action. Our policing model relies on that confidence and people coming forward to ask for help and report crime.

Both the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) - which is recorded completely independently of the police - and recorded crime, which is the police’s own statistics, show that crime has been going down. Over the last 10 years the level of reduction across both these measures is the same: 38 per cent. There has to be a margin for error in all statistics but there is no reason to think that the rate of error has changed dramatically over recent years. While crimes can sometimes be mis-recorded or placed in the wrong categories, mistakes such as this could not account for a significant impact on this overall trend.

That said, recorded crime does not capture all aspects of criminal activity; serious and organised criminality often does not fit neatly into one of the recorded crime categories. More emphasis has been placed on preventative police activity in recent years, such as protecting against dangerous people. Police resources in this area are allocated based on an assessment of threat, risk and harm. But it is more difficult to measure the success of this type of policing activity.

We know that there is a level of under-reporting of crime and that this level varies according to the offence type. We work hard to increase reporting: particularly in areas where we know underreporting is a particular problem such as domestic abuse and rape. In these categories a rise in the recorded figures is positive in the sense that it is uncovering crime we know is already there and may reflect confidence in the police’s ability to tackle it.

There can be many reasons for under-recording:

• lack of awareness and knowledge about the rules and standards, which are quite technical
• pressure of work – short-cuts being taken by staff or possible neglect of duty
• system errors where IT systems are not integrated
• use of professional discretion in the public interest; for example, a parent reporting a theft by their child and wanting police advice but never expecting a crime to be recorded
• pressure to achieve local performance targets which results in perverse activity
• more sinister manipulation of figures; although there is limited evidence of this and any cases are dealt with robustly.

Is ‘lax compliance’ by the police to blame?

We have to be honest and say that the service has not always met the standards of data quality that the public expects.

We should remember that the vast percentage of crimes are recorded accurately but there is certainly scope to improve that percentage.

People do not join the police service intent on failing to record and investigate crimes properly. There are clear standards in place for ethical and professional recording of crime but there is some inconsistency in how the existing rules are interpreted and applied by individual forces.

The focus has to be on the service that we provide to victims. Steps are being taken to introduce a more consistent approach across the country.

How can chiefs tackle this?

Chief constables have a responsibility for ensuring that crimes are recorded accurately and are appropriately investigated. Working with PCCs, chief constables have an important role to play in building a culture of ethical crime reporting that complements the service’s wider values, laid out in the draft Code of Ethics developed by the College of Policing.

Regular messages should reinforce the commitment to ethical crime recording, and the launch of the Code of Ethics later this year will represent another opportunity to emphasise this. It is important that staff have the appropriate level of knowledge to be able to undertake their role in the crime recording process; and chiefs will work with the college to achieve this.

Chiefs also need to ensure that their processes support good crime recording and investigation and that, where necessary and possible, ICT systems are integrated. Force Crime Registrars should be trained and accredited through the College and have appropriate access to a chief officer.

A better way of measuring performance?

In previous years, the use of targets in policing took on a life of their own. This has, on occasion, led to perverse activity, particularly in relation to crime detections. Numerical league tables and unsophisticated performance management that focuses exclusively on numbers without attempting to understand what lies behind them can provide a disincentive for accurate recording of crime. This is a pitfall of performance regimes in all walks of life, and especially across public services.

Measuring what is happening in our communities and the effectiveness of police activity is an important part of improving policing. It needs to be applied intelligently.

Across policing the approach to performance management is now more mature. There are no national targets, less locally-set numerical targets and the way that they are used is generally more appropriate. It is a responsibility of leaders to ensure that culture and behaviour that is encouraged by any targets or measures is not leading to perverse activity.

Concentrating solely on police-recorded crime as a means of measuring police effectiveness misses the many other aspects of police activity, such as managing risk.

Others play an important role in ensuring ethical recording; PCCs holding forces to account, the Home Office ensuring that data collected from forces is accurate and HMIC carrying out proportionate audits of forces. There is a responsibility on us all to ensure that crime is as accurate as possible.

Autism Society - Autism awareness can improve police practice, 2 April 2014

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.

Today's blog is from Claire Hughes, Project Manager for the National Autism Society (NAS), the UK's leading charity for people affected by autism (including Asperger syndrome).

Why do police services need to know anything about autism? We at the National Autistic Society (NAS) believe there are two main reasons. Firstly, it’s more prevalent than is often realised. More than one in a hundred people have autism so officers will come in to contact with people with autism. Secondly, it’s likely that the social difficulties and behaviour that can be perceived as unusual, which are often the result of the extreme anxiety and fear they often feel about an incomprehensible world, will bring some people with the condition into direct and potentially problematic contact with police and the criminal justice system.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects thousands of people in the UK. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means the condition impacts on people’s lives in different ways. Some people with autism may have profound learning disabilities and be unable to talk, some will experience acute sensory sensitivities, others may be prone to self-harm or may use alcohol or drugs to cope with the challenging way they view the world.

Although some people with autism will have learning disabilities, others will have average to above average IQ. Those with higher IQ are referred to as ‘high functioning’ people and include those with Asperger syndrome. They are less likely to have problems verbalising– although they can have rigid behaviours and rituals – and may be able to live independently in the community.

Common to all, however, are difficulties with perception that result in an inability to make sense of the social world. This means that people with autism are often unaware of the consequences of their actions or the effect their behaviour will have on others. Their ‘social blindness’ can also lead them to mistake dangerous, exploitative relationships for friendships.

Understanding autism better can impact directly on police practice. When a young Surrey girl with autism went missing, the police were called in to search for her. Officers found her fairly quickly but when she caught sight of them she ran off. The pursuit lasted for four miles until one officer realised why she was running: she hadn’t registered her pursuers as people. The police were dressed in bright yellow, fluorescent coats but she was only aware of large shapes, in flashing colours, hurtling towards her and was terrified. It was only after the lead officer removed his coat that she stopped running.

Also, their particular vulnerabilities can mean people with autism get drawn into trouble. We’re aware of cases where groups of people have taken advantage of a person with autism, using their flats to drink, take drugs and generally engage in anti-social behaviour, causing the police to become involved. One individual inadvertently became a drugs courier because he didn’t understand the implications of his actions and thought that the local gang member was his friend; friends were something he desperately wanted.

Greater understanding of autism and the application of evidence-based techniques on the ground will vastly improve interactions between the police and people with the condition.

At NAS, we’re pleased at the initiatives being taken across police services to improve understanding of autism among front line and other staff in key positions, such as awareness training and the Pegasus database used by Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Surrey amongst others.

Pegasus, which contains the names, addresses and information volunteered by people with a disability who find it difficult to give information via the spoken word, can be of enormous help to people with autism in a time of crisis.

Staff who want to share experiences and ideas and to learn how they can improve standards in their interactions with people with autism, should attend our forthcoming event. On 10 – 11 April, we are holding a two-day conference on the care of offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The conference will feature presentations from some of the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the fields of psychology and forensic psychiatry as well as new initiatives and best practice in the management of challenging behaviour.

This is a chance to learn strategies that will improve standards, increasing public confidence in the service. For more information on the conference:

For more information for criminal justice professionals:

ACPO President on our FOI Disclosure Log publication, 21 February 2014

ACPO is dedicated to transparency: A blog by ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde on our Freedom of Information Disclosure Log publication.

I am very pleased that today we have announced the publication of our Freedom of Information (FOI) disclosure logs – a key part of our commitment to openness and transparency in policing.

It has always been a major priority of mine to ensure that ACPO as an organisation is as accountable as possible and I made it my business on becoming President in 2009 to push hard to have ACPO be brought under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, a process which was completed, wholly voluntarily, in 2011.

Frequently, as part of my work, I refer back to the guiding principle of policing by consent – the police are the public and the public are the police – and I am conscious of the need to retain and build on public confidence in the police if that consent is to be maintained and if the UK police service is to continue to be the best in the world.

Confidence in the police is a constant talking point in the mass media at the moment, even though confidence has been fairly steady for the last six years. However, we can never be complacent about its maintenance, and part of that process is making sure that all our work is as transparent as possible.

The disclosure logs on our website cover all disclosures made since 2011 and are divided up, helpfully, according to national business areas, providing what I hope is an easily navigable way for the public to access information that has been requested by others.

These published logs form the first part of a rolling publication scheme and we will, over time, continue updating the information and adding new items that have been requested.

I welcome all FOI requests – it is important that the public know how we, as the body that brings together the operational leaders of our service, use our time, and both make and enact our decisions. We have a field-leading team of dedicated FOI experts delivering corporate advice and assisting forces as well as a dedicated ACPO FOI Officer and Decision Maker managing all ACPO FOI referrals. Their commitment to the job and the people who request their services is exemplary. I am proud to have them on my team and I am confident that, if you seek information from them, you will be impressed by the service you receive.

So I encourage you to take time to access our FOI pages and look at the disclosure logs - you can find them here - and please feel free to submit your own request to:

It may seem obvious to state it, but as a public service, our principal duty is to serve the public. In so doing, we owe it to you to be transparently held to account by a variety of means, including FOI requests. ACPO’s information stream is open to scrutiny, and we welcome the chance to show you how we help make a real difference to serving the public and keeping them safe.

Sir Hugh Orde OBE QPM
Chief Constable
President of the Association of Chief Police Officers

The Future of ACPO - A blog by our President, Sir Hugh Orde, 17 Jan 2014

On Wednesday, a very useful Westminster Hall debate was had at Parliament about Police and Crime Commissioners and the future of ACPO, and I felt it was important to address some of the issues raised by MPs during the course of the debate.

ACPO’s future was the subject of a recent independent report, conducted by the highly-respected General Sir Nick Parker and delivered to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

General Parker made some very insightful and interesting recommendations about ACPO, including looking at the future of our national units and how they are administered, and also in relation to ACPO’s role as the voice of operational police leadership.

While I have every respect for the work of those MPs who work tirelessly on the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) to ensure that, among many other things, our police service is run efficiently and accountably, I fear that some of those HASC members who took part in Wednesday’s debate are somewhat mistaken about the current lie of the policing landscape.

The College of Policing has been set up to provide a vital and valuable service to the police family in terms of policy, standards, ethics and training, and as a home for our national policing business area leads who formulate policy through the College’s Professional Committee.

But the business areas also have a home within ACPO, when the focus is on operational matters requiring leadership and decision making; in particular, discussing and shaping how to deliver solution most effectively so as to maximise the safety of our communities.

One contributor to Wednesday’s debate noted General Parker’s view that “it would be wrong to assume that there is a clear dividing line between policy and practice” and they were right to do so. There is certainly a relationship of mutual benefit between the operational expertise of ACPO and the evidence-based policy and education output of the college.

General Parker was very clear – chiefs still need a forum to pool knowledge and expertise and inform the service’s operational activities, and he commended the work of Chief Constables’ Council (which I have the pleasure to chair) in this sense. He also commended ACPO central office as providing value for money and said its £1.2m budget was a good starting point, funding-wise.

ACPO is not a vast, unwieldy organisation – our central office, which runs the work of the association, has fewer than 20 staff, who work tirelessly to provide the necessary support to our work – giving programme and member support to more than 300 members, making our finances meet the task set as a major professional organisation and keeping us accountable through FOI disclosure, running a communications office that manages a vast workload with very few staff, and I have a two-person Presidential team who help me in my work and represent me in many different arenas.

Our national units – the National Wildlife Unit, the National Ballistics Intelligence Service, the ACPO Criminal Records Office and FOI Referral Unit – do receive an amount of public money but are run separately, under our banner but not the direct control of central office, and, for cost-efficiency, have host force arrangements with Police Scotland/Greater Manchester Police, West Midlands Police and Hampshire Constabulary respectively.

Like the College of Policing, we are a company limited by guarantee, something that was essential to allow us to hire and second staff and secure office accommodation. I do not support the indefinite continuation of our status as a limited company – I believe we have a role to play in the statutory environment and I welcome that arrangement being created.

There has been some confusion as to what being a company limited by guarantee means. Some fear we are not accountable and not compelled to comply with Freedom of Information requests. It's important to reassure those who rightly question us that, being a regulated body, we voluntarily responded to Freedom of Information requests before 2011 and we handle and reply to all FOI requests.

Visibility, openness and accountability is something I passionately believe in and something I encourage in all areas.

Part of the accountability in policing project nationwide has been the introduction of PCCs, and chief constables across England and Wales work closely with their local commissioners and have welcomed the chance to engage with them.

I believe in democratic accountability – our parliamentary democracy is the bedrock of our society after all – but the calls for elected officials to sit on every governing committee throughout the service must be handled carefully. It is absolutely correct that the service should be held to account for the work that it does, and that it accounts for itself fully, frankly and to the representatives of the people we keep safe.

But there is a very clear difference between our service being made democratically accountable and being subjected to party-political interference.

Therefore I believe – as does General Sir Nick Parker, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Policing Minister – that police chiefs need a forum to share thinking and make decisions on how our operational service can best serve the country.

Change is inevitable in all things, and I look forward to working as part of the Transitional Board, along with the Association of PCCs, the Home Office, the College of Policing and others, to find a way in which ACPO can continue to serve – openly, honestly, actively and positively – so that, in tandem with the college, we have the greatest breadth of workable, evidence-based ideas, operational expertise and accountable structure available to us, and, in turn, the public can rely on a confident, transparent and professional police service.

Sir Hugh Orde, OBE QPM,
Chief Constable,
President of the Association of Chief Police Officers

Simon Bray - Understanding the impact of new psychoactive substances,17 Jan 2014

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.

Today’s blog comes from Commander Simon Bray, national policing lead for new psychoactive substances.

Chief constables absolutely understand the impact of new psychoactive substances.

The Home Affairs Select Committee’s (HASC) report on new psychoactive substances describes the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS), often called legal highs, as an epidemic.

We agree that the growing use of these drugs is a serious concern. People have died from taking these drugs and the future impact on users is unknown as so little research has been done. The supply and use of new psychoactive substances bring serious organised criminals trading in illegal drugs, firearms and weapons into local communities. With them they bring other types of crime and anti-social behaviour, causing real harm and leaving people feeling unsafe.

Just two weeks ago, police joined other law enforcers in targeting those suspected of supplying new psychoactive substances. Across the country police arrested 44 people, seizing unidentified white substances which were found to contain controlled drugs, visiting head shops and removing products labelled legal highs for analysis. 274 people who’d bought NPS online were visited and police wrote to a further 574 to warn them of the dangers of using products labelled legal highs.

In the report, HASC praised police forces making innovative use of current legislation, such as the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 and General (Product Safety) Regulations 2005, to prosecute suppliers of so called legal highs, forcing them to pay costs, fines and confiscation orders. The committee also welcomed the news that ACPO is working with Public Health England to plan our response to the 2014 festival season - a dangerous peak time.

In light of this action, it is hard to see how police chiefs have failed to understand the impact of new psychoactive substances as the committee suggests.

The reality of dealing with new psychoactive substances is complex. Under current legislation, it is legal for people to buy and sell uncontrolled drugs. There is no responsibility placed on the seller to prove that the products they are selling are legal and safe. When is substance is controlled, we are fighting against chemists who are able to make small changes to the chemical recipe each a time a new psychoactive substance is controlled.

Where controlled drugs, including mephedrone and other illegal NPS, are seized and identified, data is collated and reported centrally. Through their neighbourhood policing teams, police forces have a good understanding of premises which are causing anti social behaviour and other concerns that are linked to the supply or use of NPS. Police forces also record intelligence relating to NPS, particularly where associated with criminality.

However, it is to be expected that police will focus greater attention on those drugs which are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act and, within that, on those drugs which are deemed by Government to cause the most serious harms.

It is important to understand the problem of NPS but we need to be careful about not creating an overly bureaucratic system to do this if it takes officer time away from enforcement without positively impacting on the police’s ability to protect people from these drugs and the harms that go with them.

The Government review of new psychoactive substances aims to produce evidence-based tailored powers that will help us to tackle this threat and I look forward to being a part of that review. In the mean time, we will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to reduce the harms NPS can cause.

Want to hear more on the hot topics in policing? Why not follow us on Twitter @PoliceChiefs

Guest Blog, Paul Burstow MP - Policing and mental health,12 December 2013

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.


Today’s blog comes from Paul Burstow MP; Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Sutton, Cheam and Worcester Park.

Paul served as Minister for Care and Support (including Mental Health) between 2010 and 2012 and chairs the CentreForum Commission on Mental Health .

Last week, I sponsored a cross party debate to turn the spotlight on the scandalous treatment of those in acute mental health crisis who end up being managed in the police stations, rather than supported in the health service. Thirty-six per cent of people taken to places of safety for a mental health assessment find themselves in police custody rather than hospitals. On the most recent figures, that is 7,761 individuals, and, shockingly, 263 vulnerable children and young people held in police cells in the last year at a time when they desperately and demonstrably needed healthcare support.

These are people who are not suspected of any crime - they are individuals experiencing a mental health emergency and are being let down by a health service that institutionally discriminates against those with mental health problems. There are many ways of measuring whether we have achieved parity of esteem between physical and mental health, and the numbers we lock up in police cells must be among the starkest measures of progress.

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem at any one time. We are talking about something commonplace, but often hidden in plain sight in our society. That is why Victor Adebowale, in his report for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was right to say that mental health issues are a part of the core business of policing. Rates of mental health conditions among offenders range from 50 per cent to 90 per cent and there is no escaping the fact that the police, often as first responders, are and will continue to deal with people suffering from mental health problems, whether as victims, offenders, witnesses and bystanders or members of the public. In London, according to estimates by the mental health unit of the Metropolitan police, 15 per cent to 25 per cent of police activity is related to mental health issues. Some estimates put the level much higher. In London alone that adds up to more than 600,000 calls a year related to mental health difficulties.

And this is not without its own consequences. Estimates suggest that in London alone the mental illness costs to the Metropolitan Police Service are equivalent to £1,000 per employee, while nationally 56 per cent of staff working in custody suites report experiencing anxiety and depression. The nature and role of police work, however, require the police to be in control and psychologically robust.

There are some positive initiatives. The street triage pilots seem to be working well and the soon to be launched concordat between the Home Office, Department of Health, NHS England, the Police and other critical agencies focused on emergency mental health care is a very welcome step in the right directions. But there is still to do to tackle the institutional bias and discrimination that people with mental illness suffer, including the deep seated stigma which mental health carries. One step Chief Police Officers could take would be to add their support to the Time to Change anti stigma campaign that has already made strides in tackling harmful attitudes to mental illness. I believe the police deserve all the support they can get.

Want to hear more on policing and mental health? Follow our national policing lead for mental health and disability, Chief Constable Simon Cole on Twitter - @CCLeicsPolice

Martin Hewitt - Rape discussion provokes strong feelings, 2 December 2013

We welcome blogs from anyone with an opinion of issues in or affecting the police service, providing they are not party political, defamatory or containing inappropriate language.

Today’s blog comes from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, national policing lead for adult sex offences.

Last week police forces around the country ran targeted campaigns focussing on how they deal with rape and sexual offences, the support victims should expect and the realities of the judicial process.

As National Policing Lead for Adult Sex Offences, I was keen to use the opportunity to generate an intelligent, honest conversation around some of these issues. Working with national media and using social media allowed the discussion to take place.

Rape and sexual offences are uniquely damaging crimes for the victim. The impact on their lives is immense and the journey to becoming a survivor is an extremely difficult one for many. It is important that police, or other agencies in the criminal justice system, don’t make that process harder.

There are many victims who feel that the police have treated them sensitively, professionally and supported them as far through the process as they were willing or able to go. At the beginning of week, an extremely brave rape survivor, Jordan Hart, waived her anonymity to talk to Channel 4 News about her experience and to call for others who’ve been raped or assaulted to come forward and report it to the police. Jordan credited her support officer Debbie, a Sexual Offence Investigative Techniques officer (SOIT), with helping her through the process.

But there are also survivors of rape who feel that they have been let down by the police. On Channel 4 News, I was shown a film of another woman who felt that she didn’t have the support of the police officers when she reported that she’d been raped by an ex-partner.

Throughout the week, I have made clear the standards of service that victims of rape and sexual offences should expect from the police. They should expect to be listened to, believed and supported by the police as well as to be offered the support of specialist support workers. They should expect the police to do everything they can to bring the offender to justice. I am disappointed and angry when officers don’t meet those standards so I understand why others are too.

Training, supervision and leadership all reinforce these standards as does dealing with issues robustly when officers fall short. My role as national policing lead is to advise and help police forces to drive up their standards so the experience of reporting to the police and the subsequent process is as good as it possibly can be.

In both media interviews and on Twitter, I have been challenged about times where the service or individual officers have got it wrong. I have been honest that we don’t always get everything right in rape investigations. Sexual offences are complex to investigate and prosecute, and victims’ needs and reactions vary from person to person. But we do learn from our mistakes. All the changes we have made in the way police deal with sexual offences - specialist training of officers, the introduction of early evidence kits, greater access to sexual assault referral centres and working closely with support groups - are changes that have emerged from looking at ourselves and realising that we can do things better.

Last week I said it was important we are honest about the realities of prosecuting rape. Some criticism came from people who felt that raising the fact that 30 per cent of prosecutions don’t end in a conviction would put people off reporting. I disagree.

Firstly, I was absolutely clear it is always worthwhile reporting. It allows police to respond, it opens up access to support services: we need more people to report. Secondly, if I were to suggest that going through the criminal justice process as a victim of rape would be easy, that would be dishonest and would not, I believe, create trust. To increase reporting we need to increase people’s confidence in the police response and confidence is fundamentally based on being told the truth.

During the Twitter Q&A some people also found the hashtags we used - #InFocus #Rape - offensive. Hashtags provide a quick and easy reference for people searching on Twitter for particular topics and we wanted to make that search process as simple as possible – especially for those who might be looking for advice or opinion anonymously. We asked what others on Twitter thought and many found it sensible and clear, but we’ve taken the negative feedback on board and will consider hashtags carefully for this topic in future.

I didn’t want to deliver a single message last week; I wanted to have a conversation about a very complex and emotive issue. Some of the criticism highlights the strength of feeling and the difficulty that police forces have in trying to deliver campaigns to prevent rape. In interviews over the course of the week, I said very clearly that rape is rape and blame lies solely with the offenders. But I was still accused of victim blaming, as were other forces.

Just as we do with other crimes, many forces provide personal safety advice within rape campaigns, as well as targeting potential offenders. I understand why people are so passionate about the need for us to get this balance right, but it is disappointing when a message which could help protect individuals and prevent crime is misrepresented, because it impacts on people’s confidence to seek our help.

I do feel that we have been successful in having an open and honest debate and I want to thank all of those who’ve engaged with us and been a part of that, whatever their perspective. The work doesn’t stop at the end of last week; public engagement will help us continue striving to encourage reporting and improve the police response.

Want to hear more on the hot topics in policing? Why not follow us on Twitter @PoliceChiefs

Suzette Davenport - Drink and drug drivers, 2 December 2013

Selfish drink and drug drivers threaten to turn Christmas into a tragedy.

So many people look forward to Christmas and all the social activity that goes with it – spending time with family, relaxing with colleagues, going to parties – but there is a very real danger to everyone posed by drivers under the influence of drink or drugs who threaten to turn Christmas into a tragedy for themselves and those who get in their way.

That is why, every year, we press home the message that drink-driving is not worth the risk.

It is our wish for everyone to have the happiest festive period possible, but we owe it to those whose lives have been destroyed by those who drink-drive to ensure that we are doing everything we can to stop those who take this most reckless of chances.

We owe it to people like Neal and Penny Staley, on the Isle of Wight, whose 10-year-old daughter Evey, at the outset of a very promising life, was killed by a man who chose to drive after drinking and taking drugs, and in whose memory Hampshire Constabulary is backing a purple-ribbon campaign against driving under the influence: an initiative I am proud to support and to hold up as our national flagship campaign in the fight against drink and drug driving.

Those who think they are fit to take the risk of driving while intoxicated are amongst the most selfish in our society – they spare no thought for themselves and, even more gravely, they spare no thought for the lives that they are capable of irreparably destroying in the blink of an eye.

The message is very simple. If you are driving under the influence of drink or drugs, we will be watching out for you, we will catch you and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

Our equipment is fiercely accurate, our officers are highly trained and we do not turn a blind eye.

So think before you drink – make sure that if you are in a group that has a distance to travel at the end of the night, someone is a designated driver who does not drink at all. If all else fails, call a taxi, but do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking.

The legal limit is not a challenge – it is the boundary between lawful and unlawful. Any alcohol in your system will impair your reactions, even if you are technically below the limit.

Do not be fooled into thinking that you are fit to drive the morning after a heavy night out so long as you have a coffee and a cold shower. Neither of these will do anything to get the residual alcohol out of your system. It takes an hour for every unit of alcohol you have consumed to be eliminated from your body, so it is very easy for you to still be over the limit if you have drunk heavily the night before.

And do not think that because your intoxicant of choice is not alcohol that you can fool our officers – even aside from the many methods at our disposal to detect those under the influence of drugs, your eyes will give you away if you have been taking them and you will be spotted.

Though you need to be aware of the penalties, what we are saying is basically grounded in common sense – look after yourself, look after each other and spare a thought for those who use our roads: don’t drink and drive, so that we can all have a happy Christmas.

Suzette Davenport is National Policing Lead on Roads Policing, amd is Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police.

Mick Creedon - Fighting serious organised crime, 18 November 2013

Fighting serious organised crime: The National Crime Agency and police forces working together.

October saw images of officers clad in black fatigues flashing across our screens and new National Crime Agency (NCA) being hailed by some as the British FBI. A month in the NCA is getting on with the job.

The stark truth is that the step change in law enforcement which the NCA is designed to deliver is necessary.

We live in a world where crime networks trading in drugs, firearms, cyber crime, counterfeiting, identity crime, sexual exploitation and people trafficking are complex, interlinked and sophisticated. Their members are both highly resilient and skilled at evading the law.

So the launch and clear focus of the NCA on relentless pursuit of these criminals who bring misery to communities is to be celebrated and seen as an important part of the effort that many have been making for many years. It is not, as some have sought to say, just a rebranding exercise with a smaller budget and fewer resources, but an opportunity for all in policing and UK law enforcement to raise their game.

Organised crime group mapping was introduced by ACPO several years ago and this process remains at the heart of the new Home Office strategy and the work of the NCA. All forces take responsibility for identifying offenders, gathering intelligence, investigating and ultimately prosecuting members of organised crime groups. Alongside forces and working with national agencies, the police led multi-agency Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) provide additional specialist assistance to police forces for covert operations, financial investigation and surveillance when required.

The police service has become increasingly successful at putting serious, organised criminals behind bars and taking their assets. We haven’t done this alone, it’s been in partnership with a range of others including the Serious Organised Crime Agency, HM Revenue and Customs, UK Border Agency, Trading Standards, the Environment Agency, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Police forces are highly effective at tackling organised crime in their areas and the newly introduced ROCUs widen their reach and capabilities but their resources and structure mean that they cannot always tackle organised crime on a national and international level. As in other areas of policing, it makes sense to nationally coordinate policing rather than duplicating activity in each force.

That is why we in policing need a niche national agency to support what we do and enhance our ability to fight organised crime. The NCA’s links to European and international partners will be invaluable as will its ability to gather the most sensitive information and intelligence from other national partners like HMRC, GCHQ, MI5 and MI6.

ACPO has been working closely with Keith Bristow, NCA’s director general and his senior team to develop a strong, effective working relationship between chief constables and the NCA. As chief officers, we are in fierce and firm agreement that there needs to be a partnership approach: working together to assess risk, sharing intelligence and resources, and ultimately being jointly accountable for our operations.

Written into the empowering legislation is the ability for the NCA to direct forces to provide assistance or to ensure that a particular task is undertaken. In considering how we best deploy our resources we will always have to take account of specific demands that a particular force might be facing but we and the NCA are clear that directive tasking should not be necessary. I would go so far as to say that if it were to happen, then the relationship and partnership has failed as our shared understanding and responsibility should mean that we work together without falling back on legislation.

We all agree that serious organised crime has a corrosive and devastating effect on communities across the country – drug-related deaths, misery caused by anti-social behaviour, theft, burglary, sophisticated cyber attacks, people being trafficked for slavery, violence and murder. It costs the country at least £40 billion a year and we know that there are at least 40,000 people currently active in over 5,000 organised crime groups in the UK. While smashing the door down, collecting evidence and taking a case to court is attractive to us all, enforcement alone cannot win the war.

We all recognise that there needs to be much more focus on preventing and preparing for the threat of organised crime, making the environment as hostile as possible to these criminals. We should be applying as much crime prevention to top level offences as we do to lower level crimes.

Education, early intervention and social support can help to divert people away from criminal careers. Changes in technology, manufacturing and legislation have substantially reduced some forms of crime such as carbon credit card fraud, VAT fraud and vehicle theft and could do the same for serious organised crime. Looking to the future, effective border control and ensuring that all new computers, tablets and smart phones come with built-in protection from cyber attack could make a real difference. The NCA’s emphasis on tackling corrupt public officials, lawyers and accountants who act as enablers is another positive step in this direction.

Finally, I really do urge those looking on from the sidelines to give the NCA time and space to do what it is there to do. The public, media and politicians of whatever colour must realise that the criminals we are looking to defeat are sophisticated and will do all they can to insulate themselves from investigation, disruption and attack; it can take years of painstaking and complex investigations to build cases against them.

The best result for the UK may not be high-profile arrests and convictions of a few very bad people but rather the long term stifling of opportunity and the prevention of crime, which is much harder to measure and doesn’t make headlines but arguably has a much greater impact.

Mick Creedon is the National Policing Lead for the National Crime Agency Working Group, and is Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary.

Andy Marsh - Firearms licence-holders are no cash cows, 1 November 2013

Firearms licence-holders are no cash cows – National Policing Lead for Firearms and Explosive Licensing, Chief Constable Andy Marsh responds to Backbencher blog.

The cost of a firearms licence has not changed since 2001 and at the time of writing, the taxpayer is subsiding shooters to a sum in the region of more than £17 million per year so the minority may legally operate firearms.

Shooters are charged £50 to be granted a five-year firearms licence. Following research in more than 20 different police forces, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has estimated the cost of processing such an application to be in the region of £200.

This creates a deficit between the cost of processing the application and the fee paid which is currently being picked up by the tax payer, rather than those who benefit from the licence. As such ACPO submitted a proposal to the Home Office to increase fees in licensing.

After protracted period of negotiation an increase from £50 to £92 was proposed. There was universal agreement amongst all consulted that this amounted to less than the actual cost of the licensing process, by anyone's estimation.

The proposal sought full cost recovery, in line with the Treasury's own guidance, within three to five years.

Any changes to the fees system would of course have to be implemented by the Home Office who were supportive of the proposal in principle which was clearly made in the interests of the taxpayer and with increased efficiencies to policing in mind.

ACPO does not seek to lobby Government and that does not form part of its remit. However, with the deficit in licence fee costs being picked up by the taxpayer, it is certainly a matter of public interest that we highlighted the issue and passed it to central government to decide.

As the national policing lead for this area, my three priorities for firearms and explosive licensing are:

  • to improve public safety by preventing foreseeable or avoidable harm through proportionate and necessary measures
  • to improve the efficiency of firearms licensing, making it a rigorous and appropriately thorough yet cost effective process, which is nationally consistent
  • to provide an excellent service to the public, inclusive of both certificate and none certificate holders.

The proposal of an increase in fees was far from an opportunity to generate income and was certainly not seen as a 'cash cow' to swell police coffers. Instead it was designed to support the delivery of these priorities and bridge the gap between the charge for licences and the actual cost of granting them.

There are approximately 780,000 firearms and explosives licences in force in the United Kingdom. Allowing for holders, who are licensed to have both firearms and shotguns, this equates to approximately 680,000 individuals with a licence lasting for five years.

Again, allowing for new applications and general licence-holder turnover, which accounts for just over four per cent of licence holders per annum, the police service will, on average, deal with approximately 140,000 applications and renewals each year.

In 2009-2010, the estimated total cost of firearms licensing was approximately £23.6 million with the fees paid equating to £6.4 million for the same period. This left a net cost to the tax payer of approximately £17.2 million. In simple terms this means the cost to licence holders of to about 27 per cent of the actual costs.

In my role I work and consult with shooting organisations such as the British Shooting Sports Council, and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, as well as organisations such as the Gun Control Network - a relationship which is integral to the fair introduction and implementation of changes and improvements to police processes surrounding firearms.

It would be easy for the uninitiated to compare this particular licence with the likes of television licences, passports or rod licences for fishing. But these all involve significantly less administrative work and do not require public safety visits. By way of example, the cost of a shotgun licence over five years, as previously mentioned, is currently £50. The cost of a rod licence for migratory fish over the same period amounts to £360.

The current period of austerity is creating the need for forces to make efficiencies which are in some cases leading to backlogs in processing applications and maintaining up to date records regarding details of weapons held by an individual.

This presents a potential risk to public safety as well as impeding their ability to provide a fair and efficient firearms licensing service.

It’s for these reasons the proposal was made.

Andy Marsh is the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary and National Policing Lead for Firearms and Explosive Licensing.

Simon Chesterman – Police use of Taser and training, 12 July 2013

The police use of Taser is often in the media and unfortunately some of the reporting and commentary is inaccurate and misleads the public.

Reports of this nature are damaging because they needlessly undermine confidence in police and do not acknowledge or understand the reason for Taser use.

The aim of Taser is to offer police a less lethal option to resolve situations, which include threats of violence from an individual towards the public, or themselves and the police.

Taser is more appropriate and less injurious to use when resolving certain situations, and without it, the other options open to officers include the use of a firearm, a baton or police dog.

In the majority of cases involving Taser, the mere threat of its use has been enough to deter assailants and ensure a peaceful resolution of the incident.

When Taser, or any other force is used on an individual, a police officer will always have to justify their actions as being necessary and proportionate under the Law.

All use of Taser is reported to the Home Office in great detail, including those where young people are involved.

Some commentators have also suggested a lack of investigation into complaints about Taser could be a breach of human rights legislation. This claim is a fundamental misunderstanding of the process.

Every complaint received by police in relation to their use of Taser is automatically referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission for investigation.

One issue that has come under scrutiny has been the training given to officers who use Taser.

The training has been developed by an experienced group of Taser instructors and practitioners and is subject to regular updates and review.

It is among the best training in the world and is robustly scrutinised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Less Lethal Weapons Working Group, the Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) and the Science Advisory Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Options (SACMILL).

As well as reviewing the training, any police officer who applies to become Taser trained must undergo a thorough selection process and not every officer who applies will be successful.

In order to pass the training, officers must have an established history and training in the use of force, decision making, officer safety training and first aid.

Taser training then builds on this existing training and experience.

Taser training in the UK continues to be reviewed and updated. It is one of longest and most comprehensive Taser training packages in the world.

Typically in other countries it is achieved in one day, whereas the UK’s package is three times longer and demands officers already have the skills I mentioned above.

The initial training module is 18 hours, spread across three days, however the total training an officer would receive to become a competent Taser user would be significantly more when you consider all of the prior training they receive.

Some simplistic comparisons have also been made between Taser training and firearms training. These comparisons fail to account for the significant difference between the two.

The standards within Taser training are as thorough and robust as firearms training, but the length of the course for firearms is naturally longer because of the complexities and varying tactics used.

However, a proportionally similar amount of time is spent on training in both disciplines when you take into account the differing nature of both disciplines.

Training is also not the best way to judge someone’s ability because ultimately it is not about how much training an officer has done, but rather the standard they must achieve and maintain. What is important is the assessment and standards which officers must meet before being given a Taser or firearm, and they are set at a very high level.

The comparison between Taser training and handgun training also must recognise the significant differences between the two.

Taser is laser sighted and simple to load and reload. It is also used at limited, close ranges.

This compares with a handgun which uses a conventional sighting system and is used over a greater variety of ranges, positions and integrates with a far more complex variety of tactical options.

As a result of these differences it takes more time to train and assess an officer’s ability with a handgun.

Due to the more complex nature of handgun training, these skills require regular practice and assessment in order for officers to retain a high level of competence.

As the skills required to use a Taser are far simpler by comparison with a handgun, the re-examination and training of officers is naturally different.

The training concludes with a robust assessment process that will eliminate officers who do not meet the required standard.

Once officers pass this training, they are then assessed every year and if they do not meet the requirements they will no longer be allowed to use it.

In addition, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the College of Policing will continue to set high standards for Taser training and ensure its future use by officers continues to protect the public and be necessary and proportionate.

We believe it’s important for the public to have the facts around Taser to help with that discussion, which is why we have drawn up a list of the most frequently asked questions for the public and media to use.

Simon Chesterman is Deputy Chief Constable of West Mercia Police and the national policing lead for armed police.

Julian Blazeby - Police use of automatic number plate recognition, 18 June 2013

The use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems in policing has proved highly successful in tracking criminals, preventing and detecting crime, targeting uninsured and licensed road users and bringing people to justice.

They assist police in investigating crimes, including theft, burglary, drug offences, violence, sexual assaults and murder.

But people are often interested to know exactly what ANPR is, what happens to the data collected by police and who has access to it.

Put simply, ANPR uses cameras, which can be mobile, portable or placed at fixed locations, to capture details of vehicle registration marks or from number plates, along with the time and location of the vehicle. This information can then be instantly checked against a range of databases of vehicles which are of interest to police. These include the Police National Computer, and those supplied by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

There are usually two images stored, on a computer in the force where the vehicle was sighted. One of a number plate itself, and then a second which is a wider overview of the vehicle. Each police force then shares its data with a national computer system which can be used to identify patterns of behaviour by known criminals as they cross county boundaries or travel across the country.

All of the information is stored on computers locally and nationally for a maximum of two years.

If a vehicle matches one stored in any of these databases, an alert can be triggered, which police refer to as a ‘hit’. This hit ensures officers are immediately alerted to vehicles that are stolen, unregistered, unlicensed, uninsured or are believed or known to be involved in crime.
A hit can instantly tell an officer if a vehicle associated with a known criminal was in the area at the time of a particular crime.

The system can also be used in real time so police can intercept and stop a vehicle and make arrests if necessary. This technique has been used to successfully detect and prosecute many cases of major crime.

When a hit happens, each one is marked high, medium or low priority, and each category has a particular police response to assist with prioritisation. High priority relates to events where life is at risk and can include child abduction, murder and terrorism.

Medium is used for major or serious investigations and low priority is used for crimes that are a priority within a locality, where the vehicle or occupants need to be traced.

There are many benefits to using ANPR but the police recognise it has to be used in a proportionate and responsible manner with effective safeguards in place to ensure against inaccuracy and misuse. My aim is to inform the public and reassure them that ANPR is governed by a set of standards and principles with safeguards in place to deal with the information gathered, which are outlined in the Human Rights Act, Data Protection Act and are subject to guidance from the Information Commissioner.

The ANPR community was actively involved through consultation in the creation of the new surveillance camera code of practice and fully recognises the importance of such guidance.

We want to make sure there are no consequences for law abiding members of the public and a report, called Police use of ANPR, outlines a number of recommendations and a set of ‘Golden Principles’ which were devised with support from organisations outside the police service.
Among the golden principles is our belief that ANPR data should be used responsibly for the public good, to the benefit of both prosecution and defence cases. Access to such information should be restricted with clearly defined rules on who can gain access to it.

This area is always under review by the police and we want to reassure law abiding members of the public they have nothing to fear from ANPR. It is a powerful crime fighting tool which will continue to protect the public, while targeting criminals and bringing them to justice.

Julian Blazeby is Assistant Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police , and ACPO lead for ANPR.

Pat Geenty - Improving the police response to missing people, 24 May 2013

We knew that we needed to change the way we dealt with the missing people because the blanket approach we were using wasn’t working. It was not identifying those who were most at risk and prioritising police resources accordingly. It was also not providing a good service to those who repeatedly went missing for short periods and were easily found because it didn’t enable officers to investigate the reasons behind their repeated absences.

We wanted to be sure that any new approach was based on what did work. So, we:

  • listened to reviews of the police management of missing people by the National Policing Improvement Agency, the Home Office and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary as well as the views of police officers, charities, local safeguarding boards, local authorities and other partners
  • drew on the experiences of Sussex police where a new risk based approach to missing people had been used successfully since 2010
  • piloted and evaluated with the College of Policing the new approach in three police forces over three months
  • presented the new approach to all Chief Constables for their approval at ACPO Chief Constables' Council
  • with the help of the College of Policing trained those working with missing people and provided guidance to forces on the processes they should have in place before implementing the new approach.

Following this process, I am confident that the new approach, which forces can begin to use from April 2013, will mean both missing and absent people will get a better service from the police.

Under the previous system, officers would be deployed to every report of a missing person. In 2010/11, 60 per cent of missing children reports came from children’s homes. Reviews expressed concern that the initial police response was disproportionate because, in many instances, the children’s home knew where the person was, had not taken steps to return them and did not anticipate the person would come to any harm.

Through the new approach, call handlers who receive the initial missing person report will undertake a risk assessment to determine whether the person is:

  • Absent - not at a place where they are expected or required to be
  • Missing - not at the place they are expected to be but the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests they may be subject of a crime or at risk of harm to themselves or others.

The categorisations will trigger a police response appropriate to the needs of the missing or absent person. Police resources will be directed immediately to missing people who are at risk of harm to investigate. If a call handler assesses someone as absent, they will explain the categorisation to the caller and agree a time to speak again to check if the absent person has returned. They will tell the caller to contact them again if the circumstances change so that they can re-assess the situation and change the categorisation if appropriate.

Specialist missing persons coordinators, or an equivalent role, within forces will analyse all absences and identify if someone is being regularly reported as absent or if their absence appears to be part of a wider pattern in a particular area or children’s home. They will then start asking questions - where are they going? Who are their friends? Is there a reason they don’t want to be at home? - to try and uncover if there is something behind the absences. The missing persons coordinator can then work with parents or carers and other partners such as children’s homes, schools and social services to take action to address any issues.

Under the old system, police would not have investigated those repeatedly reported missing. They would have simply been found and returned to their home by a response officer. Response officers don’t receive specialist training to recognise that someone regularly not being where they are expected to be is a sign of vulnerability and identify that they could be at risk of abuse, exploitation or getting involved in criminal activity.

We will continue to engage with partners to get their feedback as the new approach beds in as well as commissioning independent research to measure whether we are achieving our aims bringing those most at risk home safe and identifying the vulnerable and acting to protect them.

Pat Geenty is the national policing lead for missing people and Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police.

Adrian Lee - Police commitment to tackling alcohol harm, 15 May 2013

When I took the national policing lead for alcohol and licensing in September 2012, I was clear that the police service’s focus should not just be on licensing but on preventing and tackling the harm that alcohol can cause in society.

I recognise that alcohol can be beneficial for our wellbeing and community cohesion: sharing a drink with family, friends and neighbours in a pub, over dinner or at a summer BBQ is a social activity that has long been a part of British life.

However, alcohol also causes damage that we cannot ignore. Nearly 50 per cent of all violent crime is alcohol related. Drink related anti-social behaviour is the most common form that people experience. Offenders are thought to be under the influence of alcohol in nearly half of all incidents of domestic abuse and alcohol plays a part in 25-33 per cent of known child abuse cases. Excessive drinking clearly increases your likelihood of committing a crime or becoming a victim.

On April 30, I held a conference to share best practice and solutions to policing issues posed by alcohol.

Sue Robinson from Durham Constabulary presented work in the North East to measure the impact of alcohol on policing, which showed that officers see alcohol as a root cause for many of the problems that they have to deal with on a daily basis. 86 per cent of the officers surveyed had been injured when dealing with someone who was drunk.Sue called for all forces to undertake similar research to find the true cost of alcohol on policing.

Bruce Ray from Carlsberg stated that it is both right and smart for the long term sustainability of industry to support solutions to alcohol harm. Bruce told the conference that the industry has committed to a five point plan, which includes looking at education, labelling, product formulation, local partnerships and drink awareness campaigns.

Alex Brewis, a peer mentor at Durham prison, told us his story of offending fuelled by alcohol addictions and how support from the HM Prison Durham Rolling Alcohol Programme helped him beat his addiction and move away from crime.His message to the conference was that offenders that have problems with alcohol need support and education from the criminal justice system to make changes.

We heard about Birmingham’s multi-agency alcohol strategy from Jacquie Kennedy from Birmingham City Council. The presentation demonstrated the value of partnership working, targeting hazardous drinkers and working with their families to provide support and help break the cycle of offending.

Superintendent Claire Bells from West Midlands Police updated the group on the experiences of several forces who have trialled data sharing with Accident and Emergency departments. Data from A&E departments will assist the police in targeting their resources, identifying crime hotspots, using licensing powers effectively and monitoring CCTV. Claire shared valuable lessons learnt from her force to assist other forces in developing effective data sharing agreements with the NHS.

DCI John Cushion from the Metropolitan Police informed the group about his approach to tackling rising alcohol related violence in the borough of Newham.John set up a crime reduction hub and used a combination of crime prevention design advice, licensing enforcement and business crime reduction to reduce alcohol harm in the community.

Inspector Dean O’Connor told us how Dorset Police have reduced the high level of alcohol related violence and sexual assault in Bournemouth town centre.The force has delivered training based on local events to students, bar staff and licensing boards.The aim of the training is to get each group to question whether they could have done something to prevent the crime.

All the force representatives went away with a range of ideas that could reduce harm caused by alcohol and promote responsible drinking. I will continue to drive forward this agenda supporting forces and working with our partners in government, local authorities, health and the alcohol industry to robustly tackle alcohol harm and prevent crime.

Adrian Lee is ACPO lead for the alcohol licensing and harm reduction working group, and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police.

Andy Trotter - Secret Justice, 30 April 2013

An awful lot has been written about secret arrests and secret justice over the last few weeks. Should the police name people who have been arrested, even though they have not been charged with any criminal offence and may never be? By not naming them, are police, under cover of the Leveson Inquiry, placing free speech and democracy at risk?

I pose these questions because the situation right now must be pretty confusing to anyone unsighted on what this debate is really about. It is worth reminding ourselves of some of the facts.

The Leveson Report challenged police practice on four counts: ‘off the record’ briefings, recording contact with the media, appropriately reporting any personal relationship between a police officer and a journalist, and (although not a specific recommendation) providing information concerning arrests to the media. Not surprisingly, the police service is reviewing recommended practice to take account of these conclusions. The aim is a framework which supports public confidence in professional, transparent and open relationships between police and the media. If we get it right, that framework should support, not restrict, the free flow of appropriate information about policing which is vital to our accountability. Anyone who doubts our sincerity about this point would do well to read the evidence of numerous police chiefs who lined up to emphasise the value of professional and open police media relationships to Lord Leveson.

But it is the naming of those arrested which has provoked so much comment, not all of it well informed. The current situation is that most forces will already neither confirm nor deny the name of a person whom journalists put to them has been arrested. However, some forces will confirm details if journalists have gathered them from other sources. That general lack of consistency is a source of confusion to police, press and public alike.

A common occurrence has been for a journalist to be given the name of a person from a source.That source could be a witness, friend, family member or even a corrupt public official. The journalist then telephones the force press office and says the name of the person concerned will be published tomorrow.

What sometimes follows is a bizarre parlour game where the journalist sometimes says things like: ‘will you be angry if I publish this name?’ or ‘am I completely wrong on this?’. Depending on the relationship between journalist and press officer, he or she may receive some guidance, or alternatively, may become quite frustrated when none is provided.

So the current situation is less than satisfactory, with no one certain as to what can be expected, and a pervasive sense that these arrangements may not be transparent or fair. This is damaging to public confidence in both police and media.

What we are proposing is that forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland adopt a common practice of neither confirming nor denying a name which is put to them. There will be exceptions when it will be in the public interest to publish a name, whether to prevent or detect crime or for some other serious concern. The police will always put public safety interests first. It could include when someone has been arrested for kidnap and we are searching for the victim. It could also be in the public interest to publish the name of someone who could be responsible for many other crimes, in order to encourage other victims to come forward. In such cases the decision to publish the name would be subject to the agreement of a review officer.

As is current practice, the details of people charged would be confirmed and the approach of not naming would only apply to the period between arrest and charge.

These proposals have nothing to do with what the media can publish. That is a matter for editors. I am only concerned with what the police do and we must be above reproach. The leaking of details of people to the media, either for payment or not, by corrupt officers has led the police to disrepute. The public, the media, and those arrested should all expect police to behave with the highest standards.

It is, of course, within the gift of the person arrested and their legal representatives to inform whoever they choose about their arrest. Those are clear rights within our legal system which the police uphold. It is also within the gift of the media to publish names of those arrested if they are confident of their facts. That is a matter for them.

The Law Commission takes a different view and recommends that we confirm names that are put to us. When I spoke to a symposium organised by the Law Commission on this matter, I was surprised to find myself almost a lone voice concerned about the many people that we arrest who are not subsequently charged. Their names could forever be linked to heinous offences of which they are entirely innocent. It is unlikely that any newspaper will give the same prominence to news of no further action to be taken as they would to news of an arrest.

Senior judges and the Information Commissioner have since added their voices to the debate, as have many within the media. Charting a course through the radically different viewpoints is no easy task for the police. But in the absence of any statutory guidance to determine a way forward, it is up to the police, through the new College of Policing and ultimately all Chief Constables, to deal with it.

This is not secret justice or secret arrests, but an effort to set clear standards which meet a test of fairness where everyone knows what to expect.

Andy Trotter is Chief Constable of British Transport Police and leads on media issues for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

This article appeared originally in the Press Gazette on April 29, 2013.

*(May 2013) The College of Policing have now published Guidance on Relationships with the Media, which is available here.

Garry Shewan - Stalking. Know the law, use the law, 18 April, 2013

The police service is acutely aware that the experience of being stalked can destroy the lives of victims. Tragically, in some cases, it may end in violence or murder.

Over the past year the National Stalking Helpline has spoken to over 2,200 victims of stalking and the latest Crime Survey of England and Wales shows that 4 per cent of women and 3 per cent of men reported having experienced stalking.

What’s the impact?

Many of these people have been stalked for a long period of time. On average we know a victim experiences 70-100 incidents before contacting the police.

Many of these people’s lives have changed dramatically. Some have lost jobs or moved house and or feel unable to go out socially as a result of being stalked. Many are also experiencing anxiety, insomnia or depression as a consequence.

Groups like the Everyday Sexism Project, which has been encouraging victims of stalking and harassment to share their stories via social media, cites startling examples of victims as young as 14 being routinely harassed on their way to and from school.

How can we help?

As the national policing lead for stalking and harassment, I’m acutely aware that if we are to continue improving the response to this crime the first thing we need is victims to come forward to the police. They have to have the confidence to do so and they need to know that the police will take their reports seriously.

Reporting to the police at the earliest opportunity will help to save lives.

Only 50 per cent of people who contact the Stalking Helpline have been to the police before; many do not think it is an option.

So I’m pleased today on National Stalking Awareness Day (April 18) to be chairing a conference in London to help raise awareness of stalking as a crime.

New Legislation

Currently the law is slightly different in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but what is important is that stalking behaviour is against the law across the UK. Everyone affected by stalking should know that there is help available and that they are not alone.

Therefore the Know the Law Use the Law campaign being rolled out by stalking awareness groups and police forces is aimed at encouraging those who are being stalked to seek help and to know that stalking is a crime.

New stalking legislation came into effect last year. The new amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 create two new stalking offences, section 2A - stalking and section 4A - stalking that causes serious distress or fear of violence. Section 4A has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

ACPO has worked hard to raise the profile and understanding of stalking and harassment and extensive effort has gone into improving training, guidance and our overall response. We want officers to risk assess at the earliest opportunity to understand the victim’s needs, involve trained Public Protection Investigation specialists in the investigation and safeguarding, and use the law to protect victims. The service absolutely recognises the seriousness of stalking and ensuring best levels of service and consistency in the policing response across 43 force areas remains an ongoing challenge.

Where are we now?

  • More than 20,000 officers have so far completed specialist training developed by the College of Policing. This work will continue
  • We’ve also linked in with the Independent Police Complaints Commission and their Continuing Professional Development events to ensure any lessons on stalking case reviews are learned. Steps are also being made to look at how forces can be held to account on stalking issues
  • We’re also at the early stages of conducting research with forces on how the new legislation is being used. This includes looking at arrests under section 2A/4A and successful prosecutions. ACPO has asked the Home Office to carry out a formal review
  • We’re also looking at proposals to develop new National Crime Recording Standards for stalking.

As you can see there’s much work underway to improve our response and understanding of stalking.

And along with an improved policing response there’s a need for a wider change in cultural attitudes to stalking.

Historically such offences have been the butt of jokes. Having met and listened to the victims of these sustained and insidious crimes, I can assure you that stalking is no laughing matter.

Society needs to challenge those who think it’s acceptable to harass and stalk.

And we need to ensure that those people who are being stalked use their instincts. If they are intimidated, feel threatened or scared for their safety then they should report it to the police.

Not sure if you are being stalked? Check the 11 questions police will ask when you make a report.

For more advice about stalking please visit the Network for Surviving Stalking website or call the helpline on 0808 802 0300.

Garry Shewan is Assistant Chief Constable at Greater Manchester Police, and ACPO lead on stalking and harassment.

International Women's Day - Women in Policing, 8 March 2013

In 1914, the Women’s Police Volunteers organisation was formed in London. The then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police agreed that the women could patrol London on a voluntary basis. The number of female volunteers grew and in 1916 the Police Act made it possible for women to be appointed as constables. During the Second World War the number of female police officers multiplied and the number of women in policing has continued to grow ever since. The Sex Discrimination Act was passed in 1975 and ended the segregation of women officers who moved from a specialist body into the general police service in January 1976.

In 2012, there were over 36,000 female police officers and 45,000 staff in England and Wales. Seven of these women are leading police forces and many more are chief officers. To celebrate International Women’s Day, some of our female ACPO officers tell us about their careers in policing.

ACPO Women’s Forum lead, and Assistant Chief Constable in Bedfordshire, Katherine Govier

When and why did you join the police?

I joined in October 1982. It was something I had always wanted to do and I was motivated by some very clear personal values which, in simple terms, were to ‘deal with criminals and make the lives of the vulnerable better’. These values have stayed with me throughout my career. I often refer to them when talking to others about my motivations but also to reaffirm that what I am doing will contribute to those aims.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have enjoyed the variety that my career has brought me. I have been privileged to have carried out many different roles and to have worked with many talented individuals. I am currently deriving great satisfaction from my role on the Strategic Command Course, helping aspiring chief officers to develop and be ready to take on demanding leadership roles in the future.

What do you find most challenging?

In recent years the biggest challenges we have faced have been financial: trying to balance budgets whilst at the same time maintaining and improving performance. We ask a lot of our people and I am constantly amazed by the extra effort that our staff put in, over and above what they are required to do, to keep our communities safe. Over the last two years my own force has been constantly re-structuring to meet these challenges and sadly that has meant some staff have lost their jobs. I think for many of us the operational challenges are easier to deal with than the human ones.

What is your experience of being a woman in policing?

When I joined it didn’t cross my mind that I might be treated differently and I have always had the mind-set that with hard work, I could achieve what I wanted. At times it has been hard, for example, continuing to work full time whilst having young children in the 1990s was a challenge because the organisation wasn’t used to women continuing to work.

I hope that I have been a good role model to other women and shown that you can achieve a balance in your working and private life. What I have learnt is that being the first to do something is very hard, but it is very important to have the energy to still reach back and help others along the path.

Do you think things have changed in terms of gender equality during your time in the police?

Things have changed hugely and for the better. I think it is also important to acknowledge that the genders will always have different needs, that we are different and don’t necessarily need everything to be the same. For example, the treatment of women who are pregnant. When I was a superintendent and eight months pregnant, I ran a firearms operation in the middle of the night from the back of the van! At the time I felt unable to ask for help and didn’t want to be viewed as different. I felt I needed to pull my weight. All I can say now is how silly was I? There is now an understanding that many men are carers and need the facilities of part-time working and flexible hours too.

In terms of operational equality, I would always encourage women to seek to achieve their dreams; it is only by being part of something that you can actually start to change it. Being a role model can feel lonely at times but it is immensely satisfying when what you do encourages others.

What more do you think the service needs to do attract and keep women in the service across all ranks?

We need to get to a stage where being a woman in the service doesn’t make you feel different. Things have changed a lot in my service. For example, about fifteen years ago I was very active in the Superintendents’ Association but for many years there was only one other woman in the country who was equally active. We would meet up at National Conference, two out of about two hundred delegates! That was quite lonely but the picture is so different now with the first female President Elect of the Association.

Women need to continue to be role models and bust a few myths, such as demonstrating that you can have a balance in your life and be in the police service. Women need to tell hopeful stories about themselves and their careers, build supportive networks and never believe that they can’t do something. It really is a fantastic career!

ACPO lead on migration and associated issues, and Assistant Chief Constable in Sussex and Surrey, Olivia Pinkney

When and why did you join the police?

I joined the police in 1991, straight from university. In truth, I joined 'for a bit' until a got a proper job (as my grandfather commented at the time). However, I quickly found a strong sense of vocation that has never left me.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The extraordinary variety of opportunities to really improve policing services for our communities, and to develop staff to be the very best they can be in delivering that service.

What do you find most challenging?

The professional aversion to risk which still exists in certain areas- we are brought up on evidence and aspiring to certainty, which means we can find it hard to take some bold steps or simply try something out and give it a go!

What is your experience of being a woman in policing?

It has been largely a very positive one. I have been fortunate to have managers who have encouraged me to be the very best I can.

Do you think things have changed in terms of gender equality during your time in the police?

Yes, but not enough. Any organisation that is lacking in diversity of all types will never benefit from the wider considerations and perspectives available, so, inevitably that remains a limiting factor for the service which we must all strive to address. Austerity is not an excuse!

What more do you think the service needs to do attract and keep woman in the service across all ranks?

We do pretty well at attracting women into the service at the moment but some specialisms are still sparsely populated with women and progression remains bumpy. We need good talent management programmes, good flexible working and buckets of active role models and mentors, mentors, mentors.

ACPO Women’s Forum runs a mentoring scheme to support women officers and staff progress to ACPO rank. Our mentors are women who have made it to ACPO rank or Assistant Chief Officer roles. They are ideally placed to guide others through the challenges ahead, helping them to gain recognition and improve their networking. Further details on the mentoring scheme can be found on the Hertfordshire Constabulary website .

A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 22 February 2013

At the recent Home Affairs Committee’s session on the College of Policing (February 12), it was evident that there are high expectations all round for the College. Rightly so, it represents a fantastic opportunity for policing. But there is still a degree of confusion around who does what in the new national landscape.

This is hardly surprising – the landscape has seen lots of change in very little time. Over the past three months, Police and Crime Commissioners have been elected, and they are already getting organised at the national level. This is something we as chiefs saw as critical, but adds another new body to the equation in the form of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC). The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has left the scene and, the College has just been born. More widely, numerous functions including IT, forensic and procurement have returned to the Home Office, and the National Crime Agency (NCA) continues to take shape. While we still await legislation to be enacted for two of these bodies, we need to move on quickly to ensure that the opportunities to develop a professional college for all colleagues are not lost, and that the real value it will bring to the landscape is made explicit as soon as possible.

Looking back to initial statements made around the genesis of the professional policing body, the current plan is significantly different and significantly better. These advances being achieved through debate and engagement with the Government to ensure it had the best chance of success. The appointment of a highly experienced leader from the service and a highly qualified Chair, together with a Board of Directors that spans the policing family and beyond, provides clear evidence of commitment to an inclusive structure that will represent the totality of policing. The decision by the Home Secretary to keep the Home Office at arms length from the board is to be supported, as is the aspiration that in time it should seek to become the “Royal College of Policing”.

In their most recent session, the Home Affairs Committee enquired into the relationship between the College and ACPO. This is an area where there is a strong willingness to work together and emerging clarity over who does what - a result of continuing close engagement.

The transfer of all non-operational business area work into the new governance structure has already taken place, and the first meeting of the professional committee which brings together business area leads takes place in the near future. While the band of Chief Officer volunteers who lead will continue to draw on expertise from across the service in an identical way, the work will progress under Alex’s Chairmanship instead of that of ACPO Cabinet.

ACPO Chief Constables' Council will now meet more regularly to ensure that all operational policing matters that fall outside the College’s scope are swiftly dealt with, ensuring citizens are protected through collective action against national threats, and that papers from the College requiring sign off to deliver a consistent approach across our devolved policing model are presented to Chiefs in a timely fashion. Operational matters requiring the voice of service leaders will continue to be handled through ACPO press office ensuring proper transparency on matters in the public domain, whilst policy issues and college business will be dealt with under the college banner.

Policing is a profession and needs to be recognised as such. But membership of a profession carries with it responsibilities and standards and codes of behaviour which will – and should - be top of the College agenda. The Home Secretary’s statement to the House on Tuesday mentioned a Code of Ethics, something I strongly support and, in keeping with the Patten Report, introduced myself into the PSNI. It was delivered to the whole organisation through a 2-day training programme which allowed every officer and member of staff to understand and discuss its importance before, in an act of symbolic but real significance, signing for their own personal copy. This may be the way to go here.

So much to be done but I believe the College has the potential to become a worldwide centre of excellence that complements the worldwide reputation of the British policing model.

A word from ACPO president, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 January 2013

We are not far into 2013 but already some themes for the year ahead are emerging. One such is the role and place of police leadership.

It seems timely to offer some reflections on this for a number of reasons. First, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever, who sadly passed away last week. Paul and I began as Constables in the Met in the same year and our paths crossed many times thereafter. Our views in our respective leadership roles did not always coincide, but far more united us than divided us. As do so many in our profession, we shared a passion for policing and serving the public. His untimely loss is a great sadness to the service.

Policing needs leaders at all ranks and roles but there is a particular media focus on the top echelons of the service right now. For one thing, several forces are appointing new chiefs under their Police and Crime Commissioners, while the Home Affairs Select Committee is holding an inquiry into leadership and standards. Meanwhile in the weekend’s papers we learned of Home Office plans to consult on Tom Winsor’s proposals to open up Chief Constable appointments to those with experience of ‘common law jurisdictions’ - understood in the main to be Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.

It is quite difficult to have an informed debate about these issues without sounding defensive or insular, both of which are not and have never been characteristics of British policing. Essentially, Britain has exported its own much-admired model of policing by consent across the world - by the same principle of course we should be willing to learn from international comparisons ourselves. There are always new ideas in policing and we should embrace them wherever they come from.

In my own experience I have gained hugely from involvement in the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a group which brings together representatives of US big city law enforcement and on whose board I sit. I’ve learnt much from the experience and know full well that there are some exceptional leaders in US policing in particular.

Latterly PERF’s work on policing in a downturn has provided insights for British chiefs - many US forces have had to make swingeing cuts and faced the challenge of doing that without halting innovation and development in the fight against crime. Conversely, British chiefs have been in regular demand on the other side of the Atlantic to share experiences on issues such as public order policing, developing police ethics and fighting gangs.

So while we need to wait to see the Home Secretary’s proposals in full and give them a considered response, we have to knock back the implication that British police leaders are reactionary, complacent or worse. And without being defensive, we also want to assert our self-confidence. Crime is down, public confidence remains broadly stable, in spite of some highly-public challenges to policing, from which we will learn. The debate around standards and leadership goes on and is hugely important because it goes to the heart of confidence in our service. But equally, in communities up and down the country the police service is getting on with the job in challenging times, and very largely, it is delivering. In many respects, those daily debates our officers and staff are engaged in, around how we tackle crime and keep people safe, are far more urgent.

The Prime Minister recently remarked that the Chief Constables he sees are ‘extremely capable and competent people’ and we’re confident that the next generation of talent coming through the service is stronger than ever. This year sees the launch of the new College of Policing - an outstanding opportunity to recognise and further develop our professionalism, at every level, underpinned by a solid academic evidence base. That is a tremendously exciting prospect.

We need to continually respond constructively to challenges on our leadership and standards but we also need to keep our focus on the service we deliver. I am also absolutely convinced that it is the daily efforts of our people on the frontline - well led and supported, showing outstanding leadership themselves - in their daily interactions with people, which underpin and lie at the heart of our relationship with the public.

Martin Hewitt - Adult Sex Offences, 17 December 2012

After taking over as ACPO lead for adult sexual offences about seven months ago, I have been assessing, learning and thinking about how best to take this work forward in the coming years. All of that thinking has been brought into a sharp focus by the events in relation to Jimmy Savile and all that has emerged as a result of that investigation. While the revelations are shocking and disappointing, the level of public interest, government concern, and victim confidence that they have generated do present us with an opportunity to move forward in the way that we deal with these most serious crimes. And they relate not just to child sexual offences but victims who are now adults.

The central theme of my reflections on how the service, with partners, attempts to tackle adult sexual offences is that we need to take more practical action to prevent offences. In almost any other area of crime, prevention is the central element of our approach. In relation to adult sexual offences, and particularly rape, we have, for understandable reasons placed great emphasis on the investigation process and our joint victim care with partners. This is incredibly important work and I will be driving hard for us to continue to improve the service we provide, especially with colleagues in Health and the Crown Prosecution Service. But it is not enough.

If we accept that perhaps that only 30 per cent of victims ever formally report a rape or serious sexual offence, then the vast majority of victims never receive this service. Where we can help them is by working to control as many factors as possible in an attempt to prevent offences in the first place. None of this thinking is particularly innovative or clever - it is more about applying the crime prevention principles and practice that we are familiar with in other areas to this type of crime.

So what does it all mean? Initially, we are working within the Metropolitan Police Service to produce a prevention plan that drives some achievable actions to deliver in four key areas:

  • Managing offenders
  • Managing dangerous places
  • Delivering effective investigations and criminal justice outcomes
  • Reducing vulnerabilities (of victims)

I will be very keen to learn from good practice around the country in all of the four key areas of activity. To summarise where I think we are, we need to understand as much as possible about the actual level and patterns of offending, and that will mean more than just reported crime.

We then need to manage the offending groups. Some of that will be about education and awareness, and some will be about proactive targeting in the way that we would for a gun supplier or drug importer.

We need to understand where the dangerous places are - public, private, virtual - and exert control where we can. We then need to conduct effective prosecutions. It is a very brave action to report a rape and we must do everything to ensure that the system supports those that come forward.

Finally, we want to do everything we can to protect people and reduce vulnerabilities which we know offenders look to exploit. Getting this message right is difficult: we acknowledge that police failings in the past have damaged confidence, and that some campaigns run by the police on rape prevention have been criticised because of their focus on potential victims, rather than offenders. But we are very clear that alongside the other aspects of our approach, protecting people is a critical part of the police’s duty. There are practical steps that people can take to reduce their vulnerability. Education about this does not in any way remove the sole culpability for crime from those who commit it.

Many forces across the country are actively engaged in these public awareness campaigns to help us with prevention and many also actively working with partners over the festive season to raise awareness of what is sexual abuse. This work will continue into 2013 and beyond. Police campaigns are linked to the Home Office prevention advice at which offers advice for victims, busts myths about rape and helps identify abusive behaviour.

So we need to move forward and ensure the lessons from the past drive us in the right direction. That direction is targeting offenders and ensuring that victims are never left feeling they are to blame.

Martin Hewitt is ACPO lead on adult sex offences and Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service.

David Whatton - Violence against women and girls, 4 December 2012

In my 28 years in the police service I cannot remember a time when the media spotlight has been so intensely focused on the issue of violence against women and girls.

In past times these appalling crimes were more likely to be committed out of sight and go under-reported. Now they are being discussed more openly than ever.
The police have seen a significant increase in victims coming forward, particularly in cases where the abuse concerned took place many years ago.

Quite rightly the public is concerned about what the police and Government are doing to help such abuse ever happening again.
Within ACPO, there is a child sexual exploitation action plan for police forces across the country. It sets out key considerations which will guide police officers and staff working with partners such as local authorities and children’s services, to tackle this abhorrent crime.

One of its key priorities is to improve the way in which data around this crime is collected by local forces.This will prevent the national picture and our understanding of this crime being hidden by the way data is stored at local levels.
The plan also seeks to enhance victim protection and the pursuit of offenders.
It will help raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and ensure tackling it is at the heart of local policing.

Since the summer riots in 2011 the public have been made much more aware of the dangers that gangs pose to our communities. While the focus at that time was criminal damage and violence, the work of the Children’s Commissioner for England on child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups has helped draw attention to another criminal side to some gangs.
Police are determined to tackle this head on and build support for victims which is accessible, relevant innovative and sustainable.

Victims may feel isolated, or in some cases not even see themselves as victims, but we are working hard to improve identification and support anyone who comes forward. Police are also working with the Home Office to look at the facilities that are in place across the country to safeguard victims of abuse.

With the Crown Prosecution Service we have produced a‘charging checklist’ for cases of domestic abuse, this ensures we can give the best evidence to allow the CPS to charge and take forward effective prosecutions which will give the support victims deserve. One-in-four women and one-in-six men experience domestic abuse in their lifetimes and this is a further step forward in protecting vulnerable people.

It should not be forgotten that continued focus on domestic abuse is a vital contribution to public safety in other areas.
This kind of criminality is closely linked to risk factors for other types of crime so by continually improving the police response to it we are often tackling dangerous people and preventing other offences.

There is also a lot the public can do such as supporting the White Ribbon campaign, which started last weekend (25th November) and will see men and boys wearing ribbons as a visible pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
In the next month we will also see campaigns linked closely to rape and serious sexual abuse, including the Home Office teen rape prevention campaign.
The 11 December will see a parliamentary event on the Ugly Mugs campaign, which allows sex workers to report crimes through a third party, and 17 December is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

In my last blog as the lead for adult sex offences I talked about a report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which looked at rape investigations and prosecution.
I am pleased to say work continues across forces to improve the service to victims of rape and the way we manage the risk posed by offenders.
These campaigns all help emphasise the importance of partner agencies working together to deliver services, which is vital to preventing and dealing with these crimes.

With these crimes prominent on the news agenda and in the minds of the public, we need to see this as an opportunity to strengthen our services for protecting the public and bringing perpetrators to justice. One of the best ways to do this is to demonstrate to the public that we will listen to them and take positive action when they come to us for help.

David Whatton is Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary , ACPO lead for Violence and Public Protection

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 15 November 2012

This week will finally see the most fundamental change to police accountability and governance for many years come into place. Chief constables are committed to forging constructive relationships with incoming PCCs. They may not agree on everything, but nor should they! For PCCs to properly hold their force to account, a degree of tension is both necessary and healthy. My sense is that the vast majority of disagreements will be settled through sensible conversations, to move forward in a way which benefits our communities.

So, when newly elected PCCs sit down at their desks – which must be after taking their oath of impartiality, what then? What might a Commissioner’s in-tray look like on a Monday morning?

Initially, there is a huge job to do, even for those Commissioners with current knowledge of policing, to understand our business. Chief Constables and their teams will be working hard to help them grip the complexity of modern policing as soon as possible, to make sure any disparity between aspirations and what is deliverable can be worked out where necessary, and to help Commissioners hit the ground running in a role which is extremely wide in scope and complexity.

Indeed, listening to and reflecting the views of their communities may in itself prove a considerable practical challenge. The demographics of force areas vary widely, from urban to rural, ethnic make-up and social class. Crime issues and community needs will vary too in line with this. An individual charged with representing equally the multiple needs of their communities will have some difficult decisions to make when it comes to strategy and setting priorities.

There will also be an amount of ‘housekeeping’ involved as new PCCs get to know their staff, appoint a chief executive and chief financial officer, a deputy, and work out exactly how their offices will operate moving forward. Will they take on additional staff to handle administration or media? How will PCCs create their own staffing arrangements without leaving their force under-resourced? And there will be existing business inherited from police authorities including new and ongoing complaints from the public, which will also require attention.

High on the to-do list will be producing both a police and crime plan and a budget. New PCCs have 10 weeks to do this and outgoing police authorities will already have begun preparing for the task. Of course depending on who is elected, the new Commissioner may or may not want to build on those foundations. The first weeks in office will see a full diary as PCCs work to engage not only with their Chief Constable, but partners across the community. PCCs will need to live up to the wider crime and justice remit of their role, working with third sector bodies, local authorities and district councils, bringing people together and moving into 2013 considering funding requests.

Two years into the comprehensive spending review, savings have already been made by cutting ‘excess fat’ in policing – through efficiency gains, service reductions and one-off savings where possible. With two years left to go, there is still uncertainty as to the amount of funding forces will receive in future. The Chancellor’s Autumn budget statement has been delayed until 5th December and details of the police funding settlement and damping rules for 2012 are expected around 21st December. PCCs may well be on the receiving end of further cuts. As Commissioners will be required to present budget and crime and police plans to their Police and Crime Panels (PCPs) by the beginning of February, assessing all this within just over a month will be no mean feat. PCCs may find that current force models for aspects of policing may not be sustainable moving forward – this will of course impact greatly upon any strategic plans they may have.

Elected with the purpose of strengthening a local voice in policing, PCCs will also need to consider the national responsibilities for policing the role also entails. Protecting communities from crime efficiently and effectively requires local policing connected all the way up to regional and national levels. Less visible issues such as cyber, organised and international crime, public order and firearms may not feature in local priorities but are crucial nonetheless. Equally important will be the need to ensure an individual force’s contribution to the national policing effort is not overlooked. All benefit from the logic and efficiency of agreeing evidence-based operational policing approaches once at the national level, rather than 44 times across each force. And there will unavoidably be times when officers on the beat may be sent to another part of the country to support policing in times of national need.

Crucially, a PCC will also have the weighty responsibility of appointing a Chief Constable where a Chief is temporary or about to retire. As it has been reported, a number of new PCCs will face this very issue as soon as they take up their post. It’s vital that a robust and transparent recruitment process is developed, so that the most talented within the service step up to take these critical jobs. Deciding how to make these appointments is in the hands of the PCCs, but they will be wise to think carefully and take advice as a matter of priority.

All in all, a pretty full workload, all carried out under the watchful eye of the media, PCP, and the communities that have elected them. Over the next few weeks we will start to learn much more about PCCs as this momentous reform beds in.

Simon Cole- Policing and Dementia, 8 November 2012

Today the Prime Minister receives a report on the progress of various organisations in improving in dementia care. The Centre for Mental Health has found that at least 15 per cent of police work touches on mental health, including dementia. As the ACPO lead on mental health, I am representing the police on the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia and take great interest in this report.

The report states that the Health and Care system plays a vital role in supporting people with dementia but that ‘it cannot tackle the challenge alone'. I think this can be said of all of the organisations involved in the challenge but it is particularly true of the police.

The most common point of contact that the police have with people with dementia is when they are experiencing a crisis. Police are increasingly being called to deal with people with dementia who are distressed or asked to respond when a person with dementia has gone missing. The police are the service of last resort and we will do all that we can to keep people safe and respond sensitively in that moment of crisis. However, medical staff are extensively trained to deal with patients in distress and the police cannot replicate that level of training.

With this in mind, the key to providing an effective police response to people with dementia is working in strategic partnerships with the health service and other agencies. We can train police officers to recognise the signs and symptoms of dementia but they then need to be able to refer the dementia sufferer to the correct service.

So, if the police are called to a situation where someone is confused and behaving aggressively, they should be able to take them to a place of safety where they can receive the treatment they need rather than to a police cell. When someone with dementia goes missing, the police can work to find them and return them home - but it is valuable for them to be able to refer them to an agency who can check that they are getting the support that they need, which may prevent them from going missing again.

People with dementia may also come into contact with police when they have been a victim, witness or perpetrator of a crime. The police service trains staff on how to interview people with dementia, but there is then a need to share information with other agencies so that relevant support can be offered.

Police forces around the country are already embracing collaborative initiatives with the public, private and third sectors to ensure an appropriate police response to people with dementia.

Leicestershire Police has worked in partnership with Leicestershire County Council, Age UK and local community groups to develop ‘keep safe places’ in libraries, stores, Age UK shops and businesses where people can go if they are feeling upset, confused or worried while out in town centres. Staff can offer basic support, including a place to sit down and contact friends or relatives if necessary - or the emergency services if required.

Thames Valley Police have linked up with the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network to pilot a Neighbourhood Return scheme. Forty-one per cent of people with dementia get lost at some point and this increases the chance of early admittance into care homes. The pilot is recruiting volunteers who will receive a message when a person with dementia goes missing and will go out and look for them.

For me, one of the key benefits of being a part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia is the opportunity for us to build those working relationships with other organisations. These relationships will enable us to divert dementia sufferers to appropriate services before they reach a moment of crisis. Or when they do, ensure that police contact is a catalyst for further assessment of their needs and, if necessary, treatment or support to prevent them reaching crisis point again.

Simon Cole is Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police , ACPO lead for mental health and disability.

Dave Thompson - Police work to tackle gun crime on our streets, 30 October 2012

The horrific shootings of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes have shocked us all and have thrown gun crime and gangs into the spotlight. The appalling act brought the issue of gun crime into our living rooms as we watched the awful events unfold in Manchester on the 18th September. Unfortunately the heartache felt by the community in Manchester has also been felt by other communities across the country who have also experienced gun crime.

Police have had much success in tackling gun crime, but we are never complacent and the events in Manchester are further proof that we need to tackle the problem with the same vigour that we have always done.

At times like this it is easy for people to become concerned and so it is important the public are aware of the facts around gun crime.

The UK has some of the toughest firearms laws in the world and as a result of that, and excellent policing, a relatively small number of firearms are available and in the hands of criminals.

Residents across the UK also benefit from one of the most unique and impressive agencies in the world for examining gun crime. National Ballistic Intelligence Service (NABIS) allows us to examine ballistic material and firearms recovered by police across the country.

The work at NABIS helps us track the weapons in use and it also means we can link offences.
For the first time in UK policing, NABIS gives us a national database of firearms, rounds of ammunition, shell cases and projectiles that have been recovered.
Specialists at NABIS are at the fore front of firearms forensic technology and as a result can provide information to link firearms incidents.
This information can then be quickly handed over to senior investigating officers who can use it to further their own investigation very quickly and establish if the gun has been used elsewhere.

Another part of tackling gun crime is stopping weapons entering the country in the first place. To do this, NABIS works with other law enforcement intelligence agencies to find the supply route and cut it off at the source.

This kind of specialist work is constantly going on in the background and is a major contributor to combating gang crime.
Behind every weapon is someone who is prepared to pull the trigger. It is another strand to gun crime which we pursue vigorously and employ highly trained officers to combat gangs.

We don’t just look at trying to tackle gangs, we also work to prevent people from ever entering them in the first place. It is a fascinating piece of work which requires huge skill to stem the attraction of young men and women to get involved with gangs.

A programme called Ending Gang and Youth Violence works tirelessly across the country to achieve this aim and already we have seen gun crime and serious youth violence falling.
In a Home Office report published only last year on this exact topic we saw the families of gang members make up around one per cent of the population, yet cost the economy more than £8 billion a year, and violence and abuse is being transmitted from one generation to the next.
To tackle this we are joining forces with the Government and other agencies.

For the first time in UK policing, work was also being carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers to map gangs and gang violence in selected forces across the country which will provide a national picture of the issue.

The horrific events that unfolded in Manchester is the result of a much wider picture which police officers use to tackle the problem from all avenues and make the UK’s streets safer.

Dave Thompson is Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, ACPO lead for criminal use of firearms.

Sara Thornton - Authorised Professional Practice, 22 October 2012

Good policing relies upon information and intelligence. It is what supports and underpins the many thousands of decisions which police officers and staff take every day during the course of exercising their powers or discharging their duties. Information and intelligence about people and locations is important, but so too is the detail of criminal offences or police procedures, or just knowledge about which approach is most effective in cutting crime.

We want the policing that we deliver to the public to be the very best it can be, which is why the information we give our officers and staff has to be up-to-date and authoritative, as well as delivered in a way which makes it practically useful. Of course policing must be dynamic and willing to embrace risk - no one can stop to consult a textbook in the middle of a developing situation. But equally knowledge and guidance has to be made available, as an invaluable tool to assist good decision-making.

This is where Authorised Professional Practice, or APP for short, comes in. The aim is create a concise, searchable, and authoritative body of knowledge to support police officers and staff. Over the last 10 years we have developed many policies and procedure guidance documents which were all aimed at making us better at doing the job. The extent of the guidance reflects the increasing complexity of the job we ask police officers and staff to do, and also our desire to improve policing standards in response to critical incidents, inspections or recommendations of the past. However we have developed over 650 individual products – and they are a mix of national standards, operational guidance and reference material -covering everything from homicide investigation to policing cricket matches.

The net effect has been more guidance than anyone can realistically read, let alone draw on in real life situations. My first task in 2011 when taking on a review of all this was to define the issues where national policing guidance was really needed - those activities which are core to policing such as investigation, intelligence and custody. In addition, we have looked at those high risk issues where police officers and staff have to work across force boundaries and with other agencies - where close working or 'interoperability' is crucial. So again, we have consolidated guidance in areas such as armed policing, civil contingencies and public order. The benefit of such an approach can be seen in situations where officers from around the country have been mobilised to respond to planned events such as the Olympics, or unplanned ones such as the riots in 2011.

Before APP, the variety of reference documents - on even an activity such as investigation - consisted of up to 50 manuals which officers might wade through. So there is a clear benefit to bringing information together in one place, ensuring it is up to date and accessible to officers and staff across the country. As we continue to professionalise the service I think that we will all be consulting APP more and more to ensure that we base our actions on the latest guidance, rather than what we can remember of what we were taught on a training course a few years ago. APP is designed to be made simply available to officers and staff via police force intranets. All chief constables have endorsed it and we are urging police forces to add a simple click through button on their force home page.

APP will continue to develop with new content being added and the platform being developed and improved. The electronic format allows us to keep the content up to date as policing knowledge and practice develops. APP will also underpin training and it will be within the responsibilities of the new College of Policing which comes into being in December 2012. The work we have done in ACPO and the NPIA over the last 18 months will shape the professional delivery of policing over years to come.

Sara Thornton is Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and the ACPO lead for Authorised Professional Practice.

A full demonstartion can be viewed here:

Alex Marshall - Drones, 9 October 2012

The only droning I'm very familiar with is the sound of my own voice. As the ACPO lead on air support I am often asked about the potential for introducing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones into policing.

For the purpose of this blog I'm referring to the sort of advanced technology used by the military and others as an aerial alternative to aeroplanes or helicopters. That is materially very different from the kinds of lightweight aerial technology with a camera which are available in every high street gadget shop. These small devices have limited capabilities and can only be used legally in the UK within line of sight.

Last week I was asked about drones in the run up to the launch of National Police Air Service (NPAS) on October 1 2012.

I gave my usual answer, which (for the record) is always as follows:

"The use of UAVs (over 20 kg) is not allowed in the UK under Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations. The introduction of UAVs would not only need to be legal but seen as acceptable by citizens in the UK. This public debate has not happened and initial views are polarised between 'why aren't we doing this now' and 'we must never allow this'. I can see the advantages in terms of cost and capability but I can see the risks of safety and public support. I cannot foresee the introduction of UAVs / drones into UK policing for many years. My focus is on the successful introduction of NPAS to ensure we protect the public, cut crime and catch criminals."

UAVs which are under 20kg and used only within line of sight are allowed with permission of the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA provides permit based on compliance with conditions that ensure public safety. We are aware of one such UAV currently in use within the police service in the UK, owned by Staffordshire police. It is used in searches for missing persons in hazardous environments or to support planned operations.

Whenever UAVs / drones are mentioned, it tends to result in newspaper headlines and leads to a number of UAV suppliers contacting me with offers to demonstrate and sell their latest products. This burst of understandable commercial interest is always matched by a similar number of contacts expressing understandable objections to drones on civil liberties grounds. These post-publicity contacts demonstrate the wide distance between those who hold views on this subject. We are in no position to purchase UAVs for the reasons given above.

There is no likelihood of this type of technology arriving in UK policing for many years. But should civil authorities open a debate on the use of UAVs, then I will be happy to engage in it with an open mind. For the time being I have a single focus in my ACPO aviation role – the successful roll out of a highly effective national police air service.

Alex Marshall is Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary and ACPO lead for the National Police Air Service.

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 25 September 2012

This week has been an exceptionally sad one for the police service, with the tragic death of two officers from Greater Manchester police. Both unarmed and responding to a routine call, Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were killed in the line of duty, simply going about their daily job – responding to one of the 9m calls for help that the police in this country receive each year.

The catastrophic events of this week serve as a reminder of just how real the dangers that the men and women of the police face day in, and day out, in order to protect the public from harm. The officers who died paid the ultimate price for their dedication and bravery. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, their family, friends and colleagues at Greater Manchester Police.

My colleague Chief Constable Peter Fahy has said that these officers exemplify the very best of British policing. They were delivering that neighbourhood service which is so important in our style of policing in this country. The British model has always relied on the close link between the public and the police, from neighbourhoods upwards. It is this relationship that breeds trust, confidence, and legitimacy. Minimum interference with the citizen and minimum use of force form a vital part of this bedrock. Quite simply, we police with the public's consent. That we are a routinely unarmed service is part of our identity and helps support the closeness and connection with the public.

Looking to colleagues in America, and across the world, it is strikingly obvious that bringing firearms into the policing equation does not solve the problem of violent crime, or protect officers from being injured or killed. When such catastrophic events happen it is so easy and understandable to look for ready solutions. That process, of openness to scrutiny and learning from events, is critical. Transparency is equally important to legitimacy in British policing. But the police service collectively does not want to routinely carry guns – we agree our relationship with the public we serve is too precious to jeopardise.

Recent days have been difficult ones for British policing. At such times we are sometimes asked about police morale, but what can never be questioned is the unswerving commitment that our officers have to serving our communities. This is the business of policing, and we go about it every day. Things do go wrong, mistakes are made, and when this happens, we are held to account.

The men and women of the service will continue, as ever, carrying out the job that they have sworn to do – protecting the public with dedication and courage, putting their lives on the line as they do so. For this, I remain immensely proud.

This article appeared originally in the Guardian on Thursday September 20, 2012.

Andy Marsh - changes to firearms licensing, 18 September 2012

When Dorset man Peter Wilson won gold in the men’s double trap, the nation’s eyes were glued to the shooting at the London 2012 Olympics.

As he secured Britain’s fourth gold medal, the first in a shooting event since the Sydney 2000 games, many will have felt a spark of enthusiasm and pride, as I did. Perhaps they’ll even feel inspired to try out one ot the 15 Olympic shooting disciplines themselves.

So it’s a good time to speak about police and Home Office plans to update firearms licensing, bringing processes that have seen little change swifly into the 21st century.
It is not hard to look around and spot young and old fiddling with a variety of technological devices, checking emails, using social network sites, exchanging text messages and so on.

People routinely do their family grocery shopping or banking online, along with tax returns and applying for driving licences and passports. Yet to apply for a firearm of shotgun certificate we are still completing paper applications and waiting for the postman to deliver rather than an instant click and send.

This summer the police service has launched its national eCommerce initiative. The idea is to provide a professional and efficient online service which can be utilised across any transactional processes between public and the police service. You could consider it an “Amazon” for policing services to the public.

Over time, the initiative aims to provide a range of service, such as online payments, driver awareness course booking, management of lost and found property and a host of other public contact work. But I am very pleased to say that those seeking a firearms licence will be the very first to gain benefits from eCommerce, with the initative going live in some counties in the summer of 2013. It will be possible to simply log on to a website and apply for renewals and grants; you will be able to complete variations, track your applications, see the date and time of your home visits, pay online and more.

Crucially, this radical change in the processing of firearms licensing will allow police forces to become more efficient without any impact on public safety. The website will be easy to use but for anyone who prefers paper forms, that service will remain in place.

I do stress that we will always put safety and security first and we are already taking new measures to achieve this. With the British Medical Association we have now agreed and implemented a process where we can inform and consult with local GPs when considering applications for firearm and shotgun certificates. What does this mean for certificate holders and applicants?

Well, currently on application a declaration is signed giving consent for the firearms licensing department to consult with your GP. We certainly do not want to know every detail of your medical history but it does mean that your doctor will be notified that you are a firearm or shotgun certificate holder. This means your doctor can notify the police if they have any concerns about retaining a certificate. With this information, local firearms departments will then be able to consider whether they wish to ask for more detail from a GP in order to make a decision.

This is an excellent measure to improve public safety which is our first priority. We have listened to and heard concerns of representative bodies in respect of this communication with doctors and several alterations have been made to adjust the process to take them into account. However public safety will always come first for policing and an early review of this measure has shown in occasional but important cases, information has come to light which may help to prevent an avoidable tragedy.

So this is an exciting and positive time of change for firearms licensing. With a modern and secure system in place, perhaps someone inspired by watching the sport at the London 2012 Games will go on to repeat Peter Wilson’s success at the Rio Olympics in 2016?

Andy Marsh, Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary and ACPO lead on firearms and explosives licensing

Simon Cole - disability hate crime, 10 September 2012

As the Paralympics came to a conclusion Lord Coe said: "We will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way."

The challenge to all of us now is to make sure that is the case. I am sure that, like me, you have not failed to be impressed with the efforts of the Paralympians. Their athleticism and commitment really does challenge the perceptions of disability that all too often can become cheap abuse, bullying and worse. To see stadiums packed to the gunnels, to watch the 100 metres final, to see the awesome wheelchair rugby is a slap in the face for those who stigmatise and demean. It has been life affirming and inspiring from the moment that the flame arrived to Coldplay's last note.

Rises in cases of disability hate crime have caused a debate on stigmatisation, and speculation as to the reasons for the increase. But from an ACPO point of view there is little doubt that the overall levels of reported incidents still do not reflect the true extent of actual incidents. The same conclusion has been drawn by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

A number of police officers, including myself, gave evidence to the EHRC inquiry into disability hate crime. Forces have sought to respond to the publication of the EHRC Hidden In Plain Sight report by finding ways to ensure reporting of disability hate crime increases, and that support is provided to victims and witnesses. Of course that is likely to be one of the reasons that our awareness of disability hate crime is increasing; as forces engage with members of disabled communities and better understand their concerns and experiences, then reporting will increase. As a consequence what will also increase is effective action to solve problems, and to target offenders.

That action will best happen in a partnership framework. The EHRC heard evidence from many others beyond policing. Certainly I gave evidence with local partners from both the County and District Council, outlining a shared approach to providing access and opportunity. I know that my colleagues from British Transport Police are working within their partnerships to see how experiences on transport links can be enhanced.

Such work will be supported by the emerging national hate crime guidance. This will capture what works, outline effective ways of working and ensure that disability hate crime is treated professionally.

None of this can take place without listening to the views of service users. In the coming weeks I shall be meeting again with members of disabled communities to see what they think of the work to date.

There has been much talk of an Olympic legacy. I am hopeful that part of the Paralympic legacy will be a reduction in stigmatisation, an acceptance of difference, and further improvements in the policing of disability hate crime.

Simon Cole, Chief Constable of Leicestershire and ACPO lead on mental health and disability

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 14 August 2012

Sunday saw the spectacular finale to what has been a phenomenal event for Britain. The country has, without question, come together in an inspiring display of civic pride. There have been some stunning displays of sporting prowess over the past fortnight, and Britain’s performance has been truly outstanding. The athletes will be proud, and deserve all the plaudits they receive. I instead want to take this opportunity to express my thanks and admiration for the police officers and staff, Armed and other Emergency services, the volunteers and security staff who have stepped up to the world stage and made this an event for the world to envy.

Indeed, the quiet dignity and good humour with which British officers have conducted themselves in recent weeks has been an object lesson in policing by consent. The tweeted image of a group of officers striking Usain Bolt’s distinctive pose (which I’m told spread to over 120,000 people in a matter of hours) serves to remind us that this was a sporting event with a security overlay, and not a security event that happened to have some sport. That is important. Despite some initial concerns surrounding the security arrangements the event has gone extremely well. That speaks volumes for the careful planning that the service and its partners have put into this event over the past four years. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison led from the front with a passion and energy that I cannot praise highly enough.

Officers from across the country cancelled leave, left their home towns and families (often at quite short notice) to band together to help make the past two weeks a success. It is the, globally recognised, approachable demeanour and can-do attitude of the British Police Officer that makes this police service great. Policing is a difficult job and the magnitude of this event cannot be played down, it was not only the individuals both in and out of uniform who went out to guard the venues but also those who stayed on the streets of their communities; all should be proud of what they have achieved.

Now the Olympics successfully behind us, the focus turns to the Paralympic Games, which begin on 29 August and run until 9 September. Although smaller in size, there has already been phenomenal demand for tickets (I myself have failed to get any) and we are likely to see another major event. I am confident that the professionalism demonstrated by the police service and our partners will once again be in evidence in making the Paralympics a success.

The Queen’s Police Medal bears the inscription to “protect my people” - a simple statement; but a vital mission. A mission that officers carry out every day. I am therefore pleased to note that the Prime Minister plans to recognise the pursuit of that mission through a commemorative coin for those who took part. It will act as a reminder for a story that officers will be telling for a generation. I was there and, to borrow Lord Coe’s words, we did it right.

Ian Learmonth - The riots one year on, 7 Aug 2012

Much has changed in the past year. Over 3,000 people have been before the courts charged with offences related to the disorder that gripped the country in August 2011. The response from the public in terms of providing information on offenders and also in supporting their police service has been tremendous. The physical damage wrought by those criminals who decided to wreck their own communities has been repaired in most places.

The police service has been reviewing our response to those events, learning the lessons, and changing how we approach public disorder. We have developed more effective community intelligence systems, including utilising social media, to better pick up tensions and allow us to be proactive in dealing with those. National mobilisation plans have been developed, tested, and exercised to ensure that we can effectively and rapidly respond to major challenges of the type England experienced last August. On top of ensuring we can always get officers to potential trouble spots quickly and in sufficient numbers, we have reviewed the tactics and equipment that public order officers use to ensure we are in the best possible position to ensure public safety.

We want the public to be clear on what they can expect from us in the range of public order situations that the police service face. We always have – and always will – facilitate peaceful protest. Where someone decides that they want to use violence or the threat of violence against people or property, then we will tackle it robustly in a way that is firm but also fair and proportionate to the circumstances, with the aim of securing convictions for those that break the law.

To that end we have developed a National Public Order Framework which aims to describe the role of the police in dealing with disorder, and gives clear guidance to practitioners on how to respond in different situations. It makes absolutely clear what response the public will get from the police when incidents occur. Public consultation will begin on that document later this year, and it has already begun with stakeholders.

The public should be reassured that we are in a better position than ever to respond to public order threats, and our ultimate guide always remains the ideas that Sir Robert Peel set out almost two hundred years ago: the basic mission of the police service is prevent both crime and disorder, and our aim must be the absence of both.

If faced with the same circumstances what would be different? We would certainly be able to detect the rising community tension earlier and better respond. We could get officers to where they are needed much faster, and they will be better trained, equipped, and prepared.

Ian Learmonth is the Chief Constable of Kent Police and ACPO lead for the public order and public safety working group.

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 20 July 2012

It has been said on many occasions that the London 2012 Games will be the biggest peacetime policing operation ever staged in this country. The events of the past week have borne out what a significant security challenge that presents.

Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison is doing an exceptional job in leading for the service in securing this internationally important event, and the speed with which contingencies have been enacted is a clear demonstration of the flexibility, resilience and dedication of our police officers.

They are getting on with the job with their usual professionalism and the can do attitude typical of British policing. There will be time for further reviews about what has happened in due course – what we now need to do is get on, working with partners, with delivering the Games. My sense is that the police service recognises this and is fully focussed on getting policing resources to where they need to be.

What the past week has highlighted is the continuing demand for the police service to work together across the 44 territorial forces to deliver on the national agenda. That is why, as we draw ever closer to the arrival of elected Policing and Crime Commissioners, I will continue to emphasise the critical importance of the Strategic Policing Requirement – the document which sets out the need to ‘have regard to’ national policing issues. I have spoken now at a number of events for potential PCC candidates and it is very clear, and understandably so, that among them there are very differing levels of knowledge and experience of how the police service works collectively at the national level.

Where I think there remains work to be done is in clearly specifying what policing resources are available at national level to tackle threats. When a moment of national demand comes along, the police service needs to be able to say very clearly what numbers and resources are at its disposal. Put very starkly, in COBR, the Government’s crisis committee, it cannot be that I tell the Prime Minister to ‘hang on a minute’ while I call every chief constable in the country and ask them to do a quick headcount. That means I need to know that forces are committed to a national resource that is fixed, over and above their local commitments, so that in incidents with a national dimension like the fuel strike or 2011 riots, we can have absolute confidence in our capacity and capability to deal with a given situation.

As the PCC will hold the budgetary responsibility, they will have an important role in this debate. But we do need to nail down the detail so that responsibilities in the national context are clear. There is still a considerable amount of work left to do, but right now our focus has to be on delivering, as they say, the greatest show on earth.

So in the meantime may I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Olympic Games. I have every confidence that the police officers and staff who have worked day and night in helping plan this event will keep it safe and secure.

Alex Marshall - PCCs, 10 July 2012

Just over a month has passed since the ACPO Leading Change in Policing Conference and I’ve now had the chance to reflect a little on some of the outcomes and themes that resulted. One thing is for certain: in policing, there’s a lot going on. I had the pleasure of chairing the second day of our conference which was entirely dedicated to exploring the role of a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the challenges (both political and operational) that will face them on the road ahead.

Although at the time of the conference the vast majority of candidates had yet to declare their intentions, we still managed to muster up a crowd of those who are interested in throwing their hats in the ring. I hope they found it as useful as we all did. The opportunity to discuss the important issues, in what is a shifting landscape, with those we may be working alongside in future was immensely valuable. There were plenty of questions on both sides. It was useful for chiefs to hear where prospective candidates thought the role was headed and what their remit would be in practice. I also imagine it was useful for candidates to hear about the latest operational thinking coming out of the service in an open and intellectually stimulating environment.

We began the day by looking at the ‘rules of engagement’ between a chief constable and a declared (and undeclared) candidate, led by a charismatic Police Area Returning Officer (David Cook). These are the individuals who are going to have to make sure everyone plays by the rules in the run up to a PCC election - no easy task. Particularly given that, despite our in depth discussion, that there was little agreement on what those ‘rules’ will actually be in practice. I know a few colleagues made light of that fact that we may be guilty of breaching section 100 1 just by discussing the elections. It’s a tricky area to say the least.

It is obviously in the police service’s interest to have as much public engagement in policing as possible, for that is how we secure our legitimacy and is how we remain accountable. However, when it comes to the ballot box the police have to (rightly) stay well clear. There is still a little way to go in clarifying how this will work as it’s new territory for everyone, but it’s fundamentally important we get it right.

Catherine Crawford (now formerly) of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), was helpful in extrapolating the lessons of London’s experience of direct accountability. But she was keen to explain that the parallels only went so far, a point that the Commissioner himself made pretty clear.

PCCs will have an incredible amount of information to take in and a crammed in-tray when they take office. ACO Nigel Brook noted the urgency of decisions required around the Police precept and budgets as part of the Police and Crime Plan. They have to be finalised by February, (the bulk of which will have been done by late autumn) therefore if a PCC is sworn in and wants to rip up the budget plan everyone will have their work cut out to lay down a new one.

The breakout sessions centred around the new world under PCCs and DCC Rob Beckley took a thought provoking look at what ‘commissioning’ services actually means. As a service we have often not focused on things in policing that are not intrinsically to do with "bobbies on the beat" or crime fighting. The business and organisational skills that a PCC may bring could make a contribution here.

Our ‘question time’ debates took both an internal and external perspective on what PCCs can offer. There is clearly still little agreement on what and who makes the best candidates, and perhaps nor should there be. Policing isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ profession and PCCs may reflect the public we police. We heard from two professional politicians (a councillor and ex-minister) and a former policeman as prospective candidates. All took very different views on what they would bring to the role.

What I, and I hope others, took away from the event was the importance of dialogue at both local and national level. These forums are more than just talking shops, they provide a vital space to share knowledge and build understanding as we prepare for such a historic and seismic change. As we heard at ACPO Conference, we still need the nuts and bolts attached to the Strategic Policing Requirement, and it will be for us collectively to remind PCCs that we have national obligations to meet on behalf of the public, that go beyond the local issues they may focus their campaigns on.

Alex Marshall is the Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, and head of the Futures Business Area.


1. Representation of the People Act 1983

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 26 June 2012

The calendar has been full this month; we have had our own conference (a successful and informative event that started a debate with PCCs), and many other events hosted by interested parties in both the public and private sector. Each one with a different focus, each one with its own burning questions.

The ensuing discussions and debates have certainly served to remind us all of how busy the timetable is – and how much work there is left to do. To take one example: the House of Lords is currently dissecting, line by line, the legislation around the National Crime Agency. My colleagues Jon Murphy and Mick Creedon are working closely with Keith Bristow on how we collectively focus on the most dangerous criminals in the country, through co-operation and proper tasking across all agencies and forces. This change alone will be a step change to our policing model.

But it is by no means the only change. I have taken many questions over recent weeks on how the shifting pieces in the policing jigsaw all fit together. The challenge lies in the complexity of the policing mission and how it will be delivered with the proposed new structures.

Recent developments around HMCIC have shifted the balance again as, in keeping with many inspectorates, it moves away from a leadership model based on a sworn officer to a body that will have a very different, more regulatory, feel. It is entirely the Home Secretary’s prerogative to choose who inspects the police, but we do need clarity on who advises the Government on operational matters following this decision. Whoever speaks on behalf of the service must be seen as legitimate, capable of speaking for the 44 Chief Officers and have the confidence to represent them in the routine, as they get on with running their forces.

It is for this reason that I feel we are reaching a point for some clear and unambiguous conversations around who does what in the new landscape. ACPO remains at the centre of this debate. Although the Government is cutting funding in December, I am confident that as the essential ‘glue’ in the system, that by bringing together chief officers, holds, and legitimises the National Policing agenda, we will continue to operate beyond the horizon for some time.

There are of course many other players on the new national stage. The Director General of the NCA is a chief constable (at the moment), has a direct line relationship with the Home Secretary; and will be on hand to provide advice. But if that is to be the arrangement we need to understand how it plays out across the wider service. The Police Professional Body (PPB) will also exist. But rooted in the totality of the police family membership, it will simply be unable to fully represent the views of the leadership of the service, and on some occasions the two may be in conflict. Where we do appear to have clarity is around the role of ACPO Chief Constables’ Council, which will remain firmly within ACPO.

So work continues apace! I do believe that the policy making aspects of ACPO’s Business Areas fit properly into the new Professional Body. However, I think there is a growing realisation that a substantial percentage of the work undertaken by Business Areas is operational and as such must remain outside that structure, firmly in the grip of ACPO. We must ensure that as much clarity as possible is achieved here and Business Area leads must be able to operate on a day to day basis through both ACPO and the PPB when appropriate.

Government will continue to need to know the views of all 44 forces collectively, since 44 forces is the model we currently have. I am pleased to note that there is now a corresponding transitional body in the form of the Association for Police and Crime Commissioners to represent PCCs collectively – they too will need a joint voice on national issues and we fully support this move.

So there is still a huge complexity of work requiring a settled home in the new landscape and it is the job of myself and others to find it. The ACPO press office took calls, to take a single day last week, on the policing approach to anti-social behaviour, drug driving and plastic bullets. That’s just in a few short hours. The answers to the questions arising from those calls could all be found through the vast resource of operational knowledge that can be drawn from across the service, at all ranks and grades, through the ACPO business areas and portfolios. Would a standards and accreditation body, be able to provide operational commentary in the same fashion, grounded in real-time expertise? I am not convinced. The Royal College of Physicians doesn’t speak for Radiologists, Radiologists don’t speak for Nurses and so on and so forth. If a Royal College for Policing is to speak for the whole service then it needs the buy in of everyone.

We must be positive in driving this forward - the recognition and respect that a Royal College could confer on policing is an enormous opportunity and the fact that it will be service owned is hugely significant. A body that can draw together the knowledge of chief officers, the operational leadership of the Superintending ranks and the knowhow of Federated officers would be hugely valuable.

I am therefore keen to up the pace on progress with the Professional Body. The NPIA will cease to be as of December, but the IT successor body ‘Newco’ isn’t expected to be in place until the following summer. The Association’s central funding runs out at that time too, that is no secret. We can’t leave an empty space, it’s not right for the service, it wouldn’t do for the Government and we wouldn’t be doing right by the citizen.

So we must fit into a coherent picture and that means bringing together ACPO, the Superintendents’ Association, the Police Federation, all the relevant police staff associations, the PCCs (as soon as they’ve sat down) and government stakeholders. We must bolt down the detail as soon as possible. It was once said the challenge is in the moment; the time is always now.

Nigel Brook - Budget cuts, 22 June 2012

In its July 2011 report 'Adapting to Austerity', Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said: "The police service… is facing its biggest financial challenge in a generation." One year on, HMIC’s second report updating on the state of police budgets is expected to be published in the near future and will offer a perspective on how the service is adapting to that challenge. A timely one too, as since taking over as Head of the ACPO Finance and Resources Business Area, I too have been taking stock of where the service is in delivering the budget cuts brought about by the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) covering April 2011 to March 2015.

As usual in the financial work there are complexities. The October 2010 CSR imposed a 20 per cent cut of central government grants to police forces in real terms. ‘Real terms’ means after allowing for the effects of inflation. To put it in everyday parlance, if your pay were cut 10 per cent and all prices rose 5 per cent during the year, by the end of the year your spending power would be 15 per cent worse (15 per cent worse in real terms). The police budgets have been cut by around 14 per cent which, together with the impact of inflation means that overall, police budgets are 20 per cent less in real terms. A cut of this scale provides a very significant challenge to police forces who want to maintain and even improve their services to the public. As 81 per cent of police spending is, on average, spent on staff then the budget cuts fall very heavily on staff numbers.

The impact of the 20 per cent budget cut is compounded by being front-loaded as opposed to being evenly spread over the four year period. The cut is made 6 per cent in 2011-12, 13 per cent by 2012-13, 17 per cent by 2013-14 and 20 per cent by 2014-15. So, as you can see, the biggest cut is in the first and second years. The advantage of this is that forces take significant initial steps to save money and a degree of stability then arrives later in the CSR period, but the disadvantage is that as police officers cannot be made redundant (only retire), then savings from declining officer numbers occur gradually throughout the period and a very severe cut is needed to police staff numbers to achieve the saving imposed.

The HMIC ‘Adapting to Austerity’ report assessed that staff numbers would need to fall by 34,100 in total including 16,200 police officers, 16,100 police staff and 1,800 PCSOs. As there are so many fewer police staff than officers to begin with this means a much greater percentage cut to police staffing.

Forces have tried very hard to protect what are being called front-line services, such as Neighbourhood Policing or Response Policing Teams but also those less visible to the public such as Counter Terrorist officers or detectives, at the expense of what is being called 'the back office': administrative and support services. This does not mean that overall front-line staffing is increasing, it is not. But as it is falling less quickly than back office staffing, the proportion (or percentage) of the total staff made up by the front-line is increasing.

Latest information suggests that forces are delivering more savings than they needed to balance the 2011-12 budget, which will allow them to fund the costs of change (for example, redundancy costs) and to ease the pressure on later years. They also have plans to deliver the savings in 2012-13 which is the financial year that started in April and the majority have pretty good plans on how to deliver the savings in the last two years of the CSR. Of course looking forward, spending cuts continuing into the next Parliament are now being talked about and the Government will need to think very carefully about any further cuts in future spending reviews given the demands on policing if the recession continues to bite.

Of note is the fact that most forces are also delivering reduced levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, together with higher public confidence figures. That is a record for the police service to be proud of, and it will be interesting to see how it is reflected in HMIC next snapshot report.

Assistant Chief Officer Nigel Brook is Director of Finance at West Yorkshire Police and Deputy Head of the Finance and Resources Business Area.

A word from ACPO President, Sir Hugh Orde - 10 May 2012

There is no denying that officers from across the country have shown the strength of their feeling today about the future of the police service. This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging periods for policing since its creation in 1829. Many police officers are worried, but I also sense that they remain determined to deliver the very best service to the public that they can.

The financial challenges facing forces are immense; the service has not shied away from that fact. Over time, we have delivered falling crime but all the while, the demands on policing have increased exponentially. Forces have had to make difficult decisions to produce the required savings, including major reductions to number of staff. The two-part Winsor report on pay and conditions has made some radical proposals but much of this is still subject to negotiation.

Chief officers sympathise with the demands placed on the officers and staff in our charge. We recognise the financial uncertainty created by the current economic situation and changes to job security and pensions. We firmly believe that proposals for change have to be viewed for their cumulative impact and recognise the unique demands policing makes of police officers and staff.

The challenges are not purely financial or local to force areas. There are national threats that the service must continue to confront in a joined up and co-ordinated way. My recent attendance at COBR, representing police chiefs in discussion about a potential fuel strike, again demonstrated with absolute clarity the requirement for a national contact point. As the National Policing Improvement Agency winds down and preparations for a new Police Professional Body continue, the Government announced in this Queen’s Speech the pending formation of a National Crime Agency. Combining the powers of the police, SOCA and the HMRC with the ability to task and coordinate at a national level will introduce a unique and untested dynamic to British policing.

The increased role of the private sector in our day to day business may also play a part in freeing up officers to deploy to the frontline and visible policing roles that the public value so much. We are seeing forces take many different paths towards this goal, but the great unknown is Police and Crime Commissioners and the new form of accountability they bring. My sense is there are still a great many changes on the horizon.

But whatever the future brings what we do have is a flexible and dedicated workforce that serves the public in often the most dangerous circumstances and with an enormous spirit of self-sacrifice and fortitude. The service demonstrates that commitment daily and will continue to do so.

Simon Cole - Local policing and partnerships, 4 May 2012

With the retirement of Chief Constable Richard Crompton I was delighted to be selected to inherit his Local Policing and Partnership Business Area. In Leicestershire Neighbourhood policing is at the core of how we set out to combat crime and anti social behaviour (ASB), with a longstanding legacy of dedicated neighbourhood teams.

This is a commitment demonstrated across the national stage, a huge part of police business is reflected through the extensive and detailed portfolios that work under the business area umbrella.

That said I know that all chiefs are having to focus their minds on how to sustain Neighbourhood policing in the face of significant austerity. The neighbourhood policing portfolio, led by Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Donald, is working hard to ensure public involvement in policing into the future despite these difficult times. That means looking at ideas from both at home and abroad.

Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are inevitably, and understandably, going to have a local focus. They are going to want to know how we work and particularly what works effectively, as Neighbourhood policing is at the heart of what we do we will have to make sure we communicate this effectively.

The removal of the ring fence for Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) funding will need careful thought. There is no doubt that PCSOs have been central to crime reduction through focused problem solving and trust building. They have also provided the continuity that was so often missing prior to their existence; abstraction levels remain low, and intelligence is readily forthcoming from local people. It will be the job of ACC Jerry Kirkby (ACPO lead on PCSOs) to ensure that that bond of trust continues and that engagement with communities is always at the forefront of what we do.

Key to building that link with local communities has been combating Anti Social Behaviour. Finding new ways of confronting it was the key driver behind eight forces (selected to reflect different policing environments) taking part in the joint ACPO/Home Office pilot study to identify best practice leading to improved service. There is also an HMIC inspection report to come, following on from 2010's report.

These pilots were in part thanks to the hard work of ACC Simon Edens (ACPO lead on ASB) and Commander Ian Dyson, who brought in national contact management through the 101 phone number for non-emergencies. Ian and his team have now turned their attention to developing the National Standard for Incident Recording into a more risk assessed model. This will again improve the service members of the public receive.

PCCs will also want to look at the Community Safety Partnership (CSPs) landscape in their area. In Leicestershire all partners are now case managing ASB on a shared IT system, elsewhere multi agency hubs assessing victims and offenders are part of day to day work. These are real crime fighting initiatives, working with complex issues and people to achieve positive results.

A long time ago Robert Peel said that the police were the 'only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence' – and we encourage the citizen to play their part. DCC Rob Beckley, ACPO lead on volunteering, (who is currently delivering national volunteering road shows). Peter Davies, Chief Executive of CEOP, have been working closely with the Security Industry to make sure volunteers and security staff are fully trained. This has transformed the professionalism of steward and security staff, who play a vital part in keeping our communities safe.

Maximising the impact of engagement with local policing is crucial to our work. That engagement may be through contact on patrol, through local meetings or through new media. DCC Gordon Scobbie (from ACPO Scotland) leads on digital media as a means of engagement; that may be twitter from your local officer or PCSO, it may be Facebook sites for major events, or shared photos of those who are most wanted, or it could be an E-meeting allowing real interaction on local issues, and what police and partners will do as a consequence of public concerns.

All of these different work streams come together in the Business Area. All of them help to reduce the risk of harm, to secure public spaces for the law abiding and to fight crime. I am very much looking forward to working with some really committed colleagues to push this work forward in the coming months and years.

Simon Cole is the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police and head of the Local Policing and Partnerships Business Area.

Nigel Brook - Police Finance and Resources, 12 April 2012

On May 15 I take up the position of Head of ACPO's Finance and Resources Business Area. As a member of Police Staff, and not a serving Police Officer (or Chief Constable for that matter), I feel very honoured.

The general public do not come across members of police staff perhaps as often as they may a warranted officer. Some may not know what a member of police staff is, or how it differs from a police officer.

Police staff jobs cover all sorts of ground and can include anything from Detention Officers guarding prisoners, to Scenes of Crime Officers (SOCOs) seeking evidence and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) providing visible neighbourhood policing.

But like any business policing also needs people to help with day-to-day running and administration, thus it needs those with skills not necessarily apposite to a frontline police officer. Such as experienced communications staff dealing with the complexities of media relations, stakeholder relations and corporate communications, or information technology experts to manage the technology and communications systems upon which modern policing relies. Then of course there are those who populate the finance and administration departments, my particular area. The service manages complex and substantial budgets and solid financial support is critical to ensuring public money is spent efficiently and wisely.

Police staff typically make up around a third of the personnel of a police force, and in some places as many as half. While a varied group doing quite different jobs, we all share in the service ethos in trying our level best to help the public. Thus it is important, and I’m privileged, to represent police staff at the table of ACPO Cabinet.

Police staff are drawn from a huge range of professional backgrounds, my own being accountancy. I started working for Greater Manchester Police as Finance Director before moving to West Yorkshire Police as Assistant Chief Officer responsible for managing a variety of services including finance, procurement, estates, transport, logistics and IT; for a force the size of West Yorkshire it is quite a task.

Those in senior police staff roles, such as my own, are eligible to join the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) along with Chief Constables, DCCs and ACCs. ACPO organises its work in groupings known as Business Areas. My own relevant area is therefore Finance & Resources. Those in other financing roles across the country’s forces come together to address common issues, help each other, respond to government consultations and so on. Usually ACPO members elect a Chief Constable to head and represent the Business Area in meetings with the Home Office and other government departments.

After acting as deputy to the last three heads I threw my hat in the ring for the election to replace Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell who is standing down in May. I was delighted to be elected as the first police staff member to hold this position, and the second staff member to join cabinet – the Information Management Business Area has beaten us to it in electing a police staff member already (Ailsa Beaton, director of information for the Met).

I hope that my success will demonstrate that the vibrant mix of officers and staff within policing is represented at all levels of the service.

Assistant Chief Officer Nigel Brook is Director of Finance at West Yorkshire Police and Deputy Head of the Finance and Resources Business Area.

Peter Fahy - Winsor Part Two, 30 March 2012

The second part of Tom Winsor’s review of police pay and conditions has landed on desks in the last couple of weeks. The media concentrated on fitness testing, direct entry and cuts to the pay of new recruits. In fact, there is a lot more substance to the report (at 780 pages) but also some noticeable omissions.

Chief Constables do not believe that police officers are overpaid. But we do believe that the current way of developing and rewarding our staff does not always allow us to get the best out of them. Some police officers are not rewarded enough for the difficult and dangerous jobs they do, while there are also a minority of underperformers who are a frustration to the hard-working, committed and passionate majority.

These changes have to help forces make best use of their budgets and therefore have to be about long term reform not crude pay cuts. We have to watch the cumulative impact on individual members of staff who are seeing the cost of living rise. Just as important, however, is to recognise that policing is becoming ever more specialised and complex and there are changing expectations of our staff. One of my biggest concerns in my own force, Greater Manchester Police, is that we have lots of staff who want to be promoted and take on more responsibility, but not the opportunities for them.

So any changes have to help forces save money. But even more important, they need to allow us to use the skills and talents of our staff to meet the needs of the public. This means we need the flexibility to reward expertise and contribution made by those who consistently deliver high quality.

On some specifics; fitness tests, while important, are not new as we already use them for officer safety training. If extended to the whole workforce it will be important that they are role and age related.

The proposal for a compulsory redundancy scheme will be emotive for officers who do not have the right to strike. Some will say that when soldiers can be made redundant, why should police officers be exempt? This is hard to argue against but this issue is important to officers feeling they are valued by the public. We still await details of a voluntary redundancy scheme agreed by the Home Office and there is likely to be considerable interest in this offer dependent on the terms.

There are proposals to correlate more of an officer’s pay to level of performance and expertise. This cannot be about crude indicators such as the number of arrests but should be built around the key roles of neighbourhood policing, investigation and response policing. It needs a balance between knowledge and the ability to translate that knowledge into practise for the benefit of the public.

Chief Constables’ support accelerated promotion for talented staff to Inspector and will participate fully in the consultation on Winsor's other proposals for direct entry.

Of course the report and publicity focused largely on police officers but much of policing is carried out by unsworn colleagues in police staff. In some forces there is a fifty-fifty split between police officers and police staff: PCSOs, Crime Scene Investigator and those in a wide range of other roles. The report essentially says that in future their pay and conditions should be determined locally but with greater harmonisation between conditions for officers and police staff.

I cannot see any of these changes happening quickly. Staff do not need reminding that we are already under a two year pay and increment freeze and pay will only increase by about one per cent after that. Next month many officers will see an increase in their pension contributions. That means there is little scope to bring in further changes when staff are already taking such a substantial hit. There is also no spare cash about to smooth the impact of any changes.

I have made it clear that we need to look not only at the size of the cuts but also how society and the world of work is changing around us. We do need some radical changes to get through this. It is not about cutting wages or asking staff to work harder for less. Other organisations have got through major changes in their industries by encouraging their staff to work in different ways taking on higher levels of skills and specialisms whilst operating with less supervision. This allows these staff to have more responsibility and professional discretion and a more rewarding role. I am not sure that Winsor fully delivers this but it lays down a foundation.

Ensuring the service draws upon a diverse base of people with the right skills will always be paramount. The Special Constabulary goes some way in supporting that and a form of direct entry may expand it further.

We are unique in this country in that we believe it is not the job of the State to control its people, but the duty of citizens to work together to ensure the laws of a democratically elected parliament are observed for the common good. That is why we have an independent police service, of the people, for the people. Some of this is done by full time paid individuals and some by unpaid volunteers. But all, as servants of the Crown, swear an oath to the monarch, not to any particular government or politician, and that tradition will continue.

Peter Fahy is the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, and head of the ACPO workforce development business area.

Gareth Pritchard - Policing dangerous dogs, 27 March 2012

Last week saw a serious attack that hospitalised five police officers and has left several of them with serious injuries. During a police raid five Metropolitan police officers were savaged by a dog. I wish them all a speedy recovery, and my heart goes out to their families. The attack comes at a time where dangerous dog law has been at the forefront of the news agenda.

Last month BBC’s Newsnight ran a special report on dangerous dog legislation (22/02/12) and its implications for dog owners, police forces and the public at large. The programme highlighted the difficulties for police officers trying to deal with dangerous dogs. This latest unfortunate incident serves to remind us of an ongoing problem.

The law concerning dangerous dogs is encapsulated in separate pieces of legislation from 1871 to the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 and 1997. It is sufficiently complex to have required the training of specific Dog Legislation Officers (DLOs) to ensure its proper implementation. Even then, many believe it provides insufficient protection for the public, while the experience of the police suggests it disappoints victims when they realise the limitations to what the police can achieve.

Concerns centre around the fact that if an individual, whether postal worker, nurse, midwife or ordinary member of the public, is attacked by a dog in someone’s home, there is no scope for criminal recourse. Unfortunately such attacks are not an irregular occurrence: as many as 6,000 post office workers are injured each year by dogs and around 70 per cent of those take place on private property (

Individuals who are lawfully on private property have a right to be protected from harm. Yet under the law, if it takes place on private property, police officers do not have the same powers to investigate an attack by a dog that results in serious injury as say they would in an assault or domestic abuse case.

The Metropolitan Police Service has reported a rise in the number of dangerous dogs seized and has set up a Status Dog Unit to specifically address the issue. Criminals are using status dogs as a tool for intimidation and protection. The RSPCA published a review in August 2010 which found that the cost of irresponsible dog ownership to the taxpayer was an estimated £76.8 million a year. The current framework can lead to slow progression of court cases at significant costs to many police forces. Kennelling not only impacts on police budgets, but can have a negative effect on the welfare of the dogs concerned. Many of the dogs end up in the kennels for long periods of time and some may not have been looked after appropriately prior to being seized.

There is increasing demand to change the status quo. Scotland and Northern Ireland have taken steps to address the issue – there is now a growing pressure to do the same in England and Wales. Animal charities and agencies (such as the RSPCA) have been liaising with government to find possible improvements to current legislation. I have been working closely with a variety of interested parties to inform and advise on the current operational implications of dangerous dog legislation. It is not for the police to call for new laws but we do want to share our operational perspective so as to make sure any proposed changes are right for the wider public and practical for officers across England and Wales.

Most dog owners are of course responsible people and would respond positively to a preventative notice from a police officer. Dog control notices were supported by 68 per cent of respondents to a DEFRA consultation. It is irresponsible dog owners that we seek to challenge; the emphasis must always be to ensure that the onus is on the dog owner to be responsible for their animals.

Momentum behind the issue may be growing. Any coming change must improve public safety, be effective for enforcers and provide a set of preventative tools to allow early resolution. This in turn should lead to a quick and cost effective process in the criminal justice system and, equally important, better animal welfare.

Gareth Pritchard is Assistant Chief Constable at North Wales Police, and ACPO lead on dangerous dogs.

David Whatton - Investigating rape, 8 March 2012

Today I attended a reception at Downing St hosted by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and ministers from a range of government departments to celebrate International Women’s Day.

One of the key things emphasised by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was that women’s issues are just as important for men and it matters to everyone that we all tackle issues of violence against women.

The majority of people present were from voluntary sector organisations and survivors and families who have had to face the realities of these heinous crimes. These groups are carrying out outstanding work across the whole of this area.

Last week saw the release of the HMIC Thematic Inspection, Forging the links: Rape investigation and prosecution, which is followed this week by the launch of the government’s Teenage Rape Prevention Campaign. Both are very welcome; one to build on the progress that has already been made in rape investigations and the second to ensure we look to challenge some of the misconceptions around rape, whilst seeking to offer guidance and support to victims of sexual offences.

Forging the links, in contrast to previous inspections which have predominately focused on victims of sexual assault, looks at the management of suspects and in particular linked offences and serial offending. It welcomes the ‘comprehensive and recent work on the treatment of victims by the agencies of the criminal justice system’ and looks to build on this in areas where improvements can be made, such as the way intelligence is gathered and how it can be used to construct cases against suspects.

The report concentrates on the structures in place to identify and manage the use of intelligence; so vital when protecting the public. The emphasis is on how intelligence is used to identify offending behaviour, spot patterns and linked offences and on making sure systematic processes are in place to successfully bring to justice those offenders that commit serial offences.

Fundamental to understanding the risk and threat to the public within a force area is having a clear intelligence picture in the form of a current problem profile. This needs clear definitions around terminology such as ‘repeat’ and ‘serial’ offending which are not just about ‘stranger’ attacks. ACPO will need to work closely with other key partners including, NPIA, CPS and the Home Office to ensure these and other issues identified by the report are addressed. There is much emphasis and discussion at the moment around no-crime rates and the inconsistencies that exist across forces. The reality is that little will be gained in trying to compare figures unless we have some consistency in the way crimes are initially recorded.

I believe real gains can be made by forces introducing specialised teams, particularly those that involve co-location of police and CPS, which bring with them the consistency and professionalism that is so important when dealing with rape. Of course in this period of austerity, resources are at a premium but I really do believe that this is one area where a dedicated resource, linked to close partnership working with the CPS and support agencies, will achieve not only a professional response to the victim but address many of the shortfalls identified in the recent inspection.

A piece of work underway at the moment is looking at the costs and benefits of such teams and will, I hope, assist forces in making a decision on whether to introduce a team or not. Evaluating the financial cost of a dedicated team against the risk of a sub-optimal investigation will be difficult to achieve but I hope it will offer corroboration that forces need to look hard at the issues. Having first-hand experience of introducing a dedicated team and seeing the almost immediate benefits it brings, is one reason why I am so confident in promoting their existence.

In addition to professionally investigating rape, we need to act to try and prevent offences from happening in the first place and that is why I am so pleased to see the launch of the government’s campaign. Highlighting rape within the media and in particular amongst teenagers is key in trying to prevent a vulnerable part of the community from becoming victims. Asking them to consider what they think constitutes a rape and providing the support necessary to challenge unfounded perceptions, will be key. The campaign will also add support to other marketing initiatives, for instance the award winning 'Where is your line' campaign from the Havens and the school based campaign recently launched in Avon and Somerset.

In summary there are some real positives to be found in many aspects of how we now investigate and prosecute offences of rape. We work much more closely with our partners and as the recent inspection highlights, ‘…the reactions of practitioners are far more attuned to the needs of victims...’. We need to constantly challenge ourselves to do better, to identify those areas which we haven’t got right, and not only offer victims the support they need but prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.

David Whatton is the Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, and ACPO lead for rape and serious sexual offending.

Dave Thompson - Renewed focus upon gangs is welcomed by the police, 8 Feb 2012

Today (8 February) sees the Metropolitan Police launch their new approach to Gangs in London. There is no question that the capital faces the largest challenge when it comes to gangs and the refocus by the Commissioner and Mayor will provide a new impetus.

The need for further action was brought into sharp focus by the disorder in the summer. In London one in five of those arrested had links with gangs and gang members were arrested in many incidents linked to disorder elsewhere in the country. That was not, of course, the whole story of the summer, but the renewed focus upon gangs is welcomed by the police. In the autumn ACPO worked to jointly host an International Conference on Gangs with the Home Office and supported the development of the government’s Ending Gang and Youth Violence Cross governmental report.

The renewed focus does take place in an environment where there is much success taking place in police forces. In 2006 I was the Police Commander in Moss Side in Manchester. The high levels of shootings had left a lasting scar on the area and gun crime involving young people was tragically too common. Today the major work by Greater Manchester Police and its partners through XCalibre has driven down gun crime and is vital in allowing the area to flourish. The same can be seen by the outstanding work through Matrix in Merseyside which has delivered international acclaim for its reduction in gun crime. In my own force, the West Midlands, there has been some brilliant work to make substantial inroads into gangs with partners and, despite spending reductions, we are investing more into tackling gangs. The same great work can be seen in many other towns and cities across the country and, on gun crime, forces work together through the world class National Ballistics Intelligence Service, (NABIS).

In many ways the challenges set out in the cross governmental approach are not about the police stepping up, though we always aspire to do even better. Much of the report concerns how other partners can meet the steps policing has taken. The new funding streams now available for tackling gangs are being allocated and led by local authorities, recognising the shift we need to make. Enforcement will not solve this problem, but it is a vital ingredient. Safeguarding young people is critical.

Over the next few months there are some further steps needed to build upon the government’s report. I see these as:

Mapping gangs:
We are working now to set a consistent methodology to help forces identify gangs, using a common definition, and assess the threat posed by their own gangs using a common framework.

Building a stronger understanding of local problems:
Police data is not the whole picture. Schools, children’s services, youth offending teams, probation and particularly the community all feed into the local picture. We have looked carefully at work conducted in other countries such as the US and built on the experiences of other cities. This way we can implement a stronger local assessment model using a wider range of data.

Building effective local models of delivery:
The government has established an Ending Gang and Youth Violence Team with a wide network of advisors to help areas assess how well their partnerships are addressing gangs. This is a genuine attempt to support, not inspect, and provides a genuine opportunity for government and local agencies to work together. We need to make sure the reviews are put in place quickly to help the first thirty areas we are going to work with.

Making sure communities are part of the solution:
Gangs come from and affect a diverse range of communities. Black communities in particular have suffered a disproportionate number of deaths and serious injuries amongst young people through gun and knife crime. Over the years I have seen local communities stand up and face this horror and begin to work with the police to turn things around, they serve as powerful examples.

Media coverage has played up links with “gangsta” culture and Black Britain to an extent over the summer - and as such some communities felt worried a step up in police action would disproportionately affect them. Worries some minority communities have about stop and search also feed these concerns.

I do not believe many of the popular characterisations accurately reflect the reality of gangs. A better evidenced understanding of their actual nature will address this. We all need to ensure communities feel part of the partnership working with the police to solve this problem.

In some cases we will have to win their trust and support, but when the community are alongside an area’s agencies it is an unbeatable combination. There are challenges ahead but the Metropolitan Police, and indeed the police service across the country, are ready to step up to it.

Dave Thompson is Deputy Chief Constable at West Midlands Police and ACPO lead for gangs.

Simon Byrne outlines the benefits of ANPR technology, 7 February 2012

Of all the many ways in which technology is handing the police service new ways to combat and investigate crime, Automatic Number Plate Recognition ANPR is perhaps the least well understood. Sometimes confused with CCTV, the volume of information ANPR cameras on our roads is capable of generating makes it a powerful tool. But one of the big challenges with ANPR is to broaden understanding of how it works and how it can best be used.

As ACPO lead for ANPR, I am actively working within a group set up by the IPCC, which also includes input of wider interest groups such as Liberty and No CCTV, to raise public confidence in the system and to meet concerns such as how we collate and store data or intrude on private individuals. Many stem from lack of understanding about how ANPR can keep people safe.

We use ANPR in three key ways, to identify and disrupt criminals, gather intelligence and investigate crime. Usually, ANPR consists of a camera linked to a number plate reading device. A photograph is taken of a number plate, the photo is passed to the reading device and the number plate instantly compared against criminal database records, along with the date, time and location of the vehicle.

ANPR is not, as many people think, primarily used for speed enforcement or traffic offences. While the system is used to enforce the congestion charge in London, ANPR main value is against a wide range of serious offences. The prevention and detection of crimes such as burglary, drug offences, sexual assaults and murder can all be very significantly aided by ANPR.

ANPR differs significantly from CCTV. Data is very easy to capture and quick to search and can rapidly identify locations of potential interest. An important difference includes the ability for ANPR to be used so that offenders can be stopped in real-time.

ANPR’s immense potential has in some respects led the system to become ‘a victim of its own success’ as Independent Police Complaints Commissioner Nicholas Long said following the investigation into the tragic murder of Ashleigh Hall. While the IPCC concluded it was impossible to say whether police could have prevented Ashleigh’s death, ANPR cameras picked up her murderer’s movements on several occasions before his arrest.

A great advantage in an era of transparency and value for money is the fact that the camera response is non discriminatory. The key to ANPR is intelligence-led policing. To make information usable there has to be sufficient intelligence to link a vehicle to a crime.

Without unlimited resources, it would be impossible for a force to use ANPR to its full potential and monitor or respond to every ‘hit’ of a suspicious vehicle. But this makes it vital that the right priorities are applied so that the police do respond to the most important. It’s also a powerful example of where differing local approaches could reduce policing effectiveness. Through ACPO I am working with chief officers to support national standards on ANPR and broaden understanding, so its immense value to public protection can be maximised.

Simon Byrne is Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police Service and ACPO lead for ANPR.

Simon Cole - Responding to mental ill-health and disability, 17 January 2012

Taking over an ACPO Portfolio always seems to bring with it a very steep learning curve. As ACPO’s new lead for mental health and disability I do find myself engaged in trying to approach that challenge.

There are some very real issues to confront. Notably the Equality and Human Rights Commission report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’, which has really focused the service on how it is supporting those experiencing disability harassment. The report outlines ten critical incidents and then highlights a series of areas where improvements could be made.

I am now chairing ACPO’s EHRC Coordinating Group, which is pulling together the service’s response to the report. It is quite clear that the service is very much on a journey, with the requirement to record disability hate crime having been implemented in April 2008 but very different rates of reporting. Different forces have taken different approaches, but those who seem to be making the most progress have engaged with disabled members of local communities (very much in the spirit of “nothing about us without us”), they have had clear expectations set by their leadership and they are continually working to increase the amount of reporting and access to our services.

Training is also key. Many forces have delivered their own bespoke packages; certainly my own has done more than one set of training following on from the learning from the Pilkington case. The National Policing and Improvement Agency is now ensuring that disability hate crime features in their core leadership packages, that information about the EHRC is available on the POLKA system and that there is a link between the EHRC report and other ongoing pieces of work around violence and situational vulnerability.

The EHRC is not the only piece of work that is ongoing within the portfolio. I recently met with the mental health practitioners representing each of the ACPO regions at a mental health forum hosted here in Leicester. It is clear that great strides are being made around dealing with Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and places of safety, with some forces reporting 80 per cent-plus of mental health detainees going straight to places of safety. The guidance talks about police cells only being used in “exceptional” circumstances and only where risks are “unmanageable” to health staff. It also suggests that all transport around mental health should be made by ambulances. Making sure that this is the reality of local delivery is now a key aim for the portfolio.

At the same time, work to introduce NHS-led and commissioned services into the police custody environment grows apace. There are now some ten forces working within an early adopter scheme with another twenty places available this year. Details have been circulated to ACPO colleagues and at present it looks like this will be over-subscribed and some choices will have to be made. All of this is about putting the patient first and ensuring that access to proper mental health services is allowed to happen. ACPO guidance on dealing with individuals with mental ill health and learning disability is a really useful document that helps to shape what we should be doing on a day to day basis as a police service, and includes custody. It is well worth a look.

There are other pieces of work that have great significance. I was proud to sign the ‘Stand by Me’ police promise with MENCAP at a recent event here in Leicester. The promise is that the service will stand by people with a learning disability to end hate crime, and there are ten pledges which I would summarise about being accessible and supportive in a way that I am sure we will seek to be. For instance, the ninth pledge is that we hold regular beat meetings and ensure that they are open to people with disabilities. I know that the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, recently spoke at a debate in the Palace of Westminster where she encouraged police forces to sign up to the promise. At present over half have done so.

Many will recall the Bradley Report, a seminal report for the criminal justice world. Lord Bradley reviewed the dealings of the criminal justice system with those with mental health problems or learning disabilities and made a number of recommendations. That was in 2009. In 2012 those recommendations are being assessed and I have been invited to represent ACPO on the overarching strategic review body. This is important work and it will be interesting to see how consistently Bradley’s recommendations have been taken forward.

All of this fits within the Government’s ‘No Health without Mental Health’ cross-government mental health strategy. That will be further supported in the coming months with a cross-government hate crime strategy.

I was privileged to share the stage at the recent ACPO Autumn Conference with Mike Smith, Chair of the EHRC Inquiry. While Mike acknowledged that the police service has made positive strides to improving service to disabled communities, he set out a fundamental challenge to us all. His challenge was that people with disabilities simply did not believe that public authorities would respond to their call for improved service. Their disbelief was based on 20 years of raising the same issues and feeling that there had not been a significant response. I have been lucky to inherit a portfolio that has already started to shape that response; I know the service will respond to the challenge and improve what we are doing.

Simon Cole is ACPO lead for mental health and disability, and is Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary.

Ian Dyson - The new police 101 non emergency number, 11 January 2012

If you have ever wanted to call the police about something important, but known it was not an emergency, then the 101 number could be your answer.

To help the police handle your call in a better more efficient way, 101 is now the single non-emergency number across England and Wales.

The scheme has been tried and tested by a number of police forces since 2006 as a new number to accompany the emergency 999. In February 2010 the Home Office asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to look into adopting 101 as a single national non-emergency number, in place of lots of different public numbers across police forces. There was broad support for the initiative and the rest, as they say, is history.

Having just two phone numbers can improve the public experience and make the service more efficient. 101 can be used to raise local policing issues, get advice or report crime that has already taken place. It can help screen out inappropriate calls to the emergency 999 number and help the police respond to genuine emergencies at greater speed.

In short, 999 is for when a crime is happening, when someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or where someone is injured, being threatened or in danger. For all other matters, 101 is the single number to call.

Calls to 101 from landlines and mobile networks cost 15 pence per call, no matter what time of day or how long a call lasts. It’s available 24/7 and a call, no matter where it’s from, will be transferred directly to the control room of the local police force. In that way the information goes directly to where it needs to go. It doesn’t mean a non-emergency call will receive a lower priority than if it came through on the 999 number. We should aim to act on the information we receive quickly.

The point of first contact with the public is a vital area for the police as it has such an impact on the way we are perceived as a service. We need the public to help us cut crime – and that means they need to feel any public enquiry, emergency or not, is dealt with appropriately, efficiently and politely. It’s about providing a professional quality of service, being able to identify risk and vulnerability and effectively prioritising and responding to calls. Huge effort has been put into this area across the police service in recent years and call handlers are trained to a high standard. 101 should help us take those standards of service even higher.

To find out more about 101 log on to the website.

So when should you call 101?

Do call 101:

  • if your car has been stolen
  • if your property has been damaged
  • where you suspect drug use or dealing
  • if you want to report a minor traffic collision
  • if you want to give the police information about crime in your area
  • you can call 101 if you simply want to talk to your local police officer.

Call 999 when it’s an emergency:

  • a crime is in progress
  • someone suspected of a crime is nearby
  • when there is danger to life
  • when violence is being used or threatened.

Instead of calling the police, try calling your local council about the following:

  • reporting graffiti
  • abandoned vehicles
  • dumping and fly tipping
  • vandalism.

Commander Ian Dyson of the City of London Police is the ACPO lead for Contact Management.

Andy Adams - Custody Matters, 28 November 2011

Sir Robert Peel's test for the police service was the absence of crime and disorder and in pursuit of this goal; all too often it becomes necessary to detain individuals in police custody. For many, their knowledge of that environment is shaped by crime dramas and television documentaries, but even so a significant number experience police detention first hand. In 2008/09 almost 1.5 million people, or roughly the combined population of Birmingham and Cardiff, entered custody. 1

It is a critical area of police work: through detention, officers are often given the necessary time to investigate a case so that a fair charging decision can be reached. Safe and secure police custody is an important element in the criminal justice process and this was seen in the recent summer disorder where custody sergeants, officers and staff played their role in dealing with significant numbers of offenders quickly and efficiently.

But it is not just the volume of those detained which makes the custody environment complex. A significant proportion of detainees - up to 30 per cent - will need to see a medical practitioner and approximately 1 in 5 detainees is a juvenile. Furthermore, police custody is also designated a place of safety which means that those people sectioned under the Mental Health Act can be taken there when no other place for them is available, even when no crime has been committed.

The experience for the majority of detainees is safe and secure. While many of our police buildings date back to the Victorian era, significant improvements have been made to custody environments in recent years. Safety and security is at their heart and the facilities are tightly controlled with CCTV, clear lines of sight and cell infrastructure designed to protect not just officers but also detainees.

Despite these safeguards, inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and the knowledge and experience of custody suite officers, the custody environment is not entirely without risk. Of the 1.5 million people detained in 2008/09, 15 died in custody or following detention. As with any death following police contact, each and every death in custody is investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

There are always lessons to be learned and the custody environment is open and can be inspected relatively easily due to the high level of oversight. This does not mean we are complacent and where an individual officer or culture of an organisation has been found to have compromised the safety of detainees disciplinary action can be taken against them within the service or, depending on the nature of the incident, in a court of law.

Chief officers are absolutely committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and security in custody suites. This is not simply because the safety of detainees is ultimately the chief constable’s responsibility, or due to the regular inspections by HMIC or various legislative provisions such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) or Corporate Manslaughter Act. The death of any individual while they are in the care of the police service can have a significant impact on public confidence in the service and we rely on that confidence to maintain law and order.

Custody sergeants, officers and staff are not just critical to frontline policing, but they are also on the frontline of the criminal justice system. The vast majority perform a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, job with professionalism and concern for those in their care, even when faced with some of the most challenging individuals and circumstances in policing.

Andy Adams is Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police and ACPO lead for custody and movement of prisoners.


1. Hannan, M., et al. (2011). Deaths in or following police custody: an examination of the cases 1988/99 – 2008/09. (IPCC Research Series Paper: 17) .

Rob Beckley - 'Big Society' and volunteering, 17 November 2011

‘The police are the public and the public are the police’ – Sir Robert Peel’s most often quoted principle is as relevant today as it was in the nineteenth century and reminds us of the police’s need to reflect the communities they serve.

This has been brought to the fore with the Government’s ‘Big Society’ agenda, which is open to interpretation and means many things to many people. As the national lead for ‘Citizenship in Policing’, I know the ‘Big Society’ is happening all around us and has been for some time. Advances with neighbourhood policing in recent years has proven that there is no disconnect between the police and public - in fact quite the opposite is true.

We currently have more than three million Neighbourhood Watch members across the country. These members support their communities by running community projects, securing funding, working with their local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) or simply looking out for neighbours’ homes and being the eyes and ears of the community. I am also delighted to see that Police Support Volunteer numbers have reached 9,000 and that we have more than 18,000 special constables. During recent public disorder, the Special Constabulary contribution was powerfully demonstrated when they put themselves in harm’s way, helping police forces to maintain resilience and restore order. These officers contributed over 110,000 hours which equates to £1.7 million.

Likewise, police support volunteer roles continue to support the police across the country and help us in delivering a better service to the public. Supported by our roads policing teams, Community Speed Watch volunteers have given the community the opportunity to get actively involved in road safety by using speed detection devices.

More recently I have seen an increase in citizen patrol schemes. Although there have been concerns about schemes under which communities patrol their own neighbourhoods encouraging vigilantism and risk to the public, it is not a new concept. Faith based citizen patrols such as Street Pastors and Street Angels have been around for years and have made a significant difference in preventing crime, helping people and keeping them safe. If residents wish to help make their communities better, safer places to live, my view is the police should support them and enable them to make this happen.

Reduced budgets and austerity measures have forced the service to look at efficiencies, but also created opportunities. In Avon and Somerset we currently work with the Woman’s Royal Voluntary Service to use their trained volunteers to provide telephone support to vulnerable elderly people who call the police for non police related matters. We currently field in the region of 10,000 calls a year from this group and this partnership will enable us to add capacity using appropriately experienced and trained volunteers.

But this is just the start. How can we use other third sector groups such as the one million RSPB members to tackle rural crime? Or how can we use the British Red Cross for spontaneous crisis support?

Another innovative concept is Facewatch, a web based crime reporting system empowering the business community. The system allows businesses to provide an evidential package and upload CCTV images within minutes of a crime occurring. Images can then be shared between businesses with the ability to reduce crime. In areas already using the system it has significantly accelerated the process of crime recording and officer time and resource.

But empowering communities and getting citizens more involved with policing does bring with it a number of challenges. I believe the police service is still very risk averse and I regularly hear the same reasons why something can’t happen instead of what we need to do to make it happen. Health and Safety, costs, vetting - it’s all too risky! All valid concerns, but they should not be the default position.

Looking ahead I am supportive of innovation and building on what has already been achieved. I would like to see more specialist Special Constabulary roles in departments like mounted, roads policing and CID to name a few. I am also encouraging forces across the country to embrace appropriate volunteering opportunities. I truly believe that greater involvement of communities within the policing mission will improve the service through these challenging times and ensure that we continue to deliver policing with the public and not merely for them.

Rob Beckley is Deputy Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, and is ACPO lead for Citizenship in Policing.

Simon Byrne - Policing prostitution and sexual exploitation, 2 November 2011

Five years on from the tragic deaths of five female sex workers in Ipswich we have seen great progress in the way in which prostitution and associated issues are dealt with across the country. Significantly, in Suffolk, more than 200 sex workers have been helped out of sex work since the ‘Ipswich murders’, with them being provided with appropriate support to deal with the underlying symptoms of their issues, including drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and homelessness.

This said there is still much more to be done. As the current ACPO lead for Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation my role is to ensure that the policing of this area nationally is directed in the most appropriate way and that the law by which the police work to is fit for purpose.

On-street prostitution has not stopped; individuals, both women and men, continue to be at risk on a daily basis, vulnerable to threat and harm, in order to fund their addictions. Off-street prostitution also continues; often hidden away behind closed doors, but equally at risk to exploitation by criminals and criminal gangs.

Last week’s publication by the Home Office of its Review of Effective Practice in Responding to Prostitution is welcomed by ACPO. The document highlights ways in which policing mixed with multi agency and community support can provide the innovative ways to respond to the issues of prostitution. This same direction is given in the new ACPO strategy and supporting operational guidance for dealing with prostitution & sexual exploitation, published this week. It is my belief that the policing of prostitution will at best only achieve short-term results unless there is effective partnership at the local and strategic level, in order to support victimised individuals and communities with appropriate legislation and enforcement resources.

The strategy therefore promotes a policing approach that keeps in balance the three essential elements of individual and community needs, and the investigation and prosecution of those who exploit and abuse. These three facets must operate simultaneously and be sustainable. I absolutely recognise the responsibility that the police have to enforce the law that is set by the government of the time however, with much of the current prostitution related law being complex and on occasion contradictory, it is vital that the police understand the need for alternative approaches to dealing with the issue.

With the above in mind I would very much welcome a debate about alternative policy approaches that could be taken in this area, which would better equip the service to protect its communities and its individuals. There is a great amount of academic research available, much of which supports the view that an alternative approach is needed. An example would be the decriminalisation and regulation of brothels in Australia and New Zealand, not an answer to all of the related issues but certainly a solution to some. More of those involved in sex work in Australia and New Zealand can now access health services with ease, whilst maintaining more personal security in an emotive area for policing.

There is no perfect solution to dealing with prostitution and sexual exploitation, my ethos is to use evidence based approaches that consider risk, threat and harm to all. An approach like this would help to bridge the gap between tackling neighbourhood nuisance and the exploitation of sex workers by organised criminals and gangs.

ACPO supports the 'International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers', which is held annually on December 17. The day is to remember the men and women who have been lost through violence. The police service is committed to ensuring those in the community who are vulnerable, including sex workers, are protected from harm. We will continue to make every effort to bring to justice those offenders who commit violent crimes against the vulnerable.

Simon Byrne is the Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and is ACPO lead for prostitution and sexual exploitation.

Tim Hollis: Policing Drugs in Austerity - Adjusting to the challenge,12 October 2011

One of the challenges of policing drugs is the wealth of anecdote as opposed to evidence about what works. The UK Drugs Policy Commission, whose report Drug Enforcement in an Age of Austerity is published today, is an independent body committed to evidence-based assessment. It’s an approach I wholeheartedly support.

The fact that the current austerity measures in the face of significant budget reductions are starting to have an impact on police operational capacity when it comes to drug enforcement is itself no surprise, although it is, perhaps, too early to draw firm conclusions on the longer term impact.

Only recently the National Treatment Agency announced significant reductions in the number of people addicted to heroin and crack cocaine. I welcome that reduction but I cannot claim that this is a result simply of better enforcement. The challenge presented by illicit drugs is more complex than that.

It’s vital to remember that enforcement is but one element of the Government’s overall drugs strategy. Education, prevention and treatment play an equally important role in tackling a long established and systemic social problem. Unambiguously, the police role is to be central to the enforcement element and I welcome the opportunity to debate how we can make the police service’s contribution, alongside other agencies, as effective as it can be.

So what are the key issues emerging from the UKDPC review? Well, it is important to remember that they drew directly on practical experience: surveying police officers and staff currently engaged in drugs enforcement. These are people absolutely committed to reducing the harms caused to local communities by drugs and, predictably, they are disappointed when our capacity to tackle the problem is reduced. Some of that sentiment is reflected in the findings. It is, however, inevitable that reduced budgets impact upon capacity somewhere along the line, and hard to argue that drugs enforcement should be made an exception.

Addressing the harms caused by serious and organised crime quite correctly remains a high priority for Government and the Home Office has only recently published its crime strategy for addressing the problem. Enforcement at national level plays a central role in setting the context within which local policing takes place. Having announced the creation of the National Crime Agency a year ago, the new head of the NCA has just been appointed. That provides the opportunity for ACPO, on behalf of the 43 police forces, to start a dialogue with the NCA as to priorities and intentions when it comes to drugs enforcement and how they intend to utilise resources and cooperate with forces.

We will not, however, lose sight of the need for forces to retain the ability to tackle local problems. As a Chief Constable, I know all too well how devastating to a local community low level drugs dealers and such things as crack houses can be. Of course we realise that if we take out one local dealer another will step up to take their place but if you’re a single Mum on an inner city estate trying to raise a family and hold down a job in a flat next door to a crack house then you don’t care about that. You want the local Neighbourhood Policing team to get stuck in, to raid the flat and move the dealers away. Retaining the capacity to tackle such problems is critical to retaining public confidence and Chief Constables will do everything they can to protect operational policing.

Finally, the UKDPC Review highlighted the importance of good partnership working when it comes to achieving long term solutions. I do worry about the cumulative impact of budget reductions across the Criminal Justice Agencies, particularly the Probation Service who have a key role to play in reducing re-offending. There is good evidence that Integrated Offender Management is delivering results but this initiative is under pressure. Similarly, local authorities are wrestling with greater budget cuts than those affecting policing, but joint-working is at the heart of so many successful local drugs initiatives.

I remain confident that Forces will continue to protect local communities as best they can at a time when we are confronted by challenges of an historic scale. The UKDPC provides evidence that the Service is already responding positively to the challenge.

Tim Hollis is Chief Constable of Humberside Police and Chair of the ACPO Drugs Committee

Olivia Pinkney: Policing the exploitation of labour, 26 September 2011

Labour exploitation is seen as an increasing issue across Europe as well as in the UK. Unfortunately, the victims are some of the most vulnerable of our society and particularly susceptible.

Intelligence on exploitation is notoriously difficult to gather, as victims may be afraid or not in a position to speak out. Often what little they are given is better than what they had before they were recruited, so they do not consider themselves victims.

The victims of trafficking are conditioned and threatened, and therefore unable or unwilling to escape to inform the authorities. But if a victim comes forward, the police will start an investigation. The Association of Chief Police Officers works closely with the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) on all types of human trafficking operations. UKHTC provides tactical advice, co-ordinates intelligence, and engages with overseas law enforcement. Britain shares all intelligence relating to trafficking with Europol, as do all European countries.

There is a reliance on victims coming forward and it is the responsibility of the police, partner agencies, support organisations and the community to work together to ensure their safety and gain their confidence and trust. There is always more we can do to raise awareness, as crime groups adapt and change. But a great number of improvements have been made to enable UK law enforcement to tackle exploitation and support the victims.

Two main aims of the Government’s Human Trafficking Strategy are tougher law enforcement to tackle the criminal gangs involved, and improved identification and care for victims.
Legislation has been introduced that has given further powers to charge criminals who exploit others, such as section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which includes slavery and servitude. Victims can therefore fit the internationally recognised definition of being a victim of trafficking and are eligible for recognition by the National Referral Mechanism, which Britain adopted two years ago.

Neighbourhood policing teams undertake vital work, building relationships within communities, including the homeless and local charities, to increase reporting. Modern slavery and trafficking in any form is intolerable. The police and their partner agencies are committed to tackling exploitation in whatever form it takes.

Olivia Pinkney is the Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex Police and Surrey Police, and is ACPO lead for migration and related matters.

A version of this article appeared in The Times on Saturday 24 September (subscription required).

Tim Hollis: Reflections on Disorder, 12 September 2011

The week of 6 August 2011 was an extraordinary one. The disorder that occurred was of a nature not previously witnessed and has prompted a wide range of views and opinions as to ‘what has gone wrong’ with our society. Whilst I was personally relieved that we saw no disorder in this Region we cannot be complacent as I know that colleagues in the Yorkshire & Humber forces worked hard with local communities to avoid any ‘copy cat’ disorder taking place. West Yorkshire Police in particular did extremely well to deal with the very specific challenges with which they were confronted that week.

For my part, I observed events from a national perspective. As well as being Chief Constable of Humberside I have national responsibilities in respect of policing and was thus in London overseeing the coordination of mutual aid between police forces and working alongside the President of ACPO Sir Hugh Orde who attended COBR to report to the Prime Minister on policing issues outside London, the acting Metropolitan Police Commissioners dealt with the latter.

The scale, the geographic spread and the nature of the disorder that we witnessed was unprecedented and I speak as one who has been involved in Public Order policing since 1977. The pressure on the Police Service was intense and we were ‘running hot’ for three days. On Wednesday 10 August a remarkable total of 390 Police Support Units were operational nationally, mostly within their own force areas but some 88 were on Mutual Aid which included 15 PSUs from Scottish forces who rallied to our assistance. Consequently, we had a little under 10,000 British Police officers deployed on public order duties – and the rest of the Service was still answering calls, responding to routine incidents and policing neighbourhoods and, let us remember, the vast majority of our communities remained unaffected by disorder.

But therein lies the rub. Whilst a small number of people tragically lost their lives and we heard heartbreaking stories from many more who lost their homes and livelihoods as a direct result of the disorder, no one can have been unaffected by the scenes we witnessed in the media and the press over those days of madness. As a member of the public said to me recently, ‘we witnesses anarchy and it’s a frightening sight. Nobody wants to go back there’. These emotions underpin the strength of the public reaction to the disorder, the renewed support for local police which many forces are now experiencing and the hard questions being asked as to ‘Why…?’.

Whilst there has been much analysis and speculation over recent weeks as to what lay behind the disorder, personally I believe that a range of issues came together in a moment of time and in a manner no one had anticipated. Certainly, for the police there was no advanced intelligence to suggest that problems in London would spread quite so rapidly not only to some of our inner cities which had experienced disorder 30 years ago but also to places as far removed as Gloucester and Nottingham which had not.

As the week progressed, the police first held the line and then regained the initiative without recourse to the baton rounds and water cannon which feature so regularly on the Continent. Personally, I was enormously impressed by how the Service responded after the initial challenge and I’m proud of the courage and dedication displayed by our officers and staff. Parliament was recalled and there is no doubt that, as the week progressed, we witnessed an unusual but very welcome degree of cooperation and support from our partners in the Criminal Justice system. We really did see rapid and robust justice with offenders being arrested, charged, put before the Courts and sentenced in days. This undoubtedly contributed to taking the momentum out of the disorder… but for the police and public it did raise the question as to why cases take so long to get to court in the normal course of events and why imprisonment is not used more effectively at an early stage for those who make the lives of the law-abiding a misery on a more routine basis.

As for the future, I return to a point I made at the beginning. We can all sense that things have changed but I think it too early to say what the long term effects of the shock and confusion of those few days of disorder will be. Certainly, there are many more questions to be asked about the elements already identified: a ‘me first’ consumer society; family break down; poor education; unemployment; gangs. For our part, I know that police are already looking hard at the lessons we have to learn and whether we need to adapt our style and tactics to reflect the new reality but let us remember that these were not anti-police riots and British Policing did not fail, it was indeed sorely tested but rose to the challenge.

There are, however, question for us all: for individuals when we look afresh at the question of our personal responsibilities to one another and the wider society; for family members in setting standards and taking responsibility for their conduct and behaviour; for communities in making an honest assessment of how we live together and make contributions with the wider good in mind. And inevitably, there are question for ‘the powers that be’ including the Government, local authorities and the police who exercise authority over communities and make choices on their behalf.

In my experience at such times simple solutions are often sought but rarely found. We must resist the temptation to point the finger merely at those being paraded before the courts and then seek to carry on as usual. Personally, I was both impressed and reassured by the manner in which local communities across the country reacted. The ‘broom army’ of local people volunteering to clean up was frequently larger than the small number of people who had caused the damage. Support for local police was remarkable as the pubic demonstrated their support for an effective but approachable presence in their communities. The Criminal Justice system looked anew at how it operates and the extent to which local communities had confidence in its ability to deal promptly and effectively with those who break the law.

I do not believe that the events herald further social breakdown albeit no one can afford to be complacent. Perhaps the disorder served as timely reminder that we do not live alone, rather we are all part of a wider community which is stronger when it has a sense of pride and identify and stands together. As for the disorder ‘nobody wants to go back there…’

Tim Hollis is the Chief Constable of Humberside Police.

Versions of this article have previously appeared in the Yorkshire Post (31 August) and Police Professional (1 September - subscription required).

Sir Hugh Orde: Tension between politicians and police is healthy

One of the foundations of British policing is the doctrine of constabulary independence, by which Robert Peel, characterising the police as autonomous professional agents of the law, deliberately insulated policing from political control. It is this conscious design that allows the police to rely on expertise, judgment and experience in taking professional decisions on operational policing. The public interest and standard of policing are protected from compromise.

This is the case for operational independence of the police. Now let me attempt to kill off a couple of ‘straw men’.

First, we must be clear that the essential counterpoint to operational independence is accountability to the public. It is effected in different ways, through the law, through the Home Secretary at a national level and through representatives at a local level. I am convinced there should be a healthy tension for these relationships to work.

Last week I attended Cobr meetings and the Prime Minister and Home Secretary were enormously supportive of the work of the police service throughout. The Home Secretary clearly understands the complexity of the world in which we live and I think she appreciates that we cannot get it right all the time. What I witnessed in Cobr was robust oversight but with senior officers making clear operational decisions.

This was the fundamental point I was seeking to address in media interviews last week.

I was not suggesting that politicians were themselves an irrelevance and would urge people to look beyond the headlines and sound bites to the fundamental point I was trying to make. The more robust policing tactics adopted last Tuesday were not a function of political interference; they were a function of the numbers being available to allow the chief constables to change their tactics – something the Home Secretary reinforced in her speech this week. I think politicians themselves would want the public to be clear on this point as they too seek to underline the importance of police service free of political interference.

Equally, the government has an absolute right to reform accountability at a local level, which it aims to do through replacing police authorities with locally elected police and crime commissioners. Our position is that the police service should have clarity on how new arrangements are going to work, complete with effective checks and balances that sustain the insulation from political interference in operations which Peel intended.

The second straw man is the idea that, infused with a strong sense of professional independence, British policing believes it is immune to learning lessons from outside policing or abroad. Neither is true. The Chiefs I represent are some of the most open minded individuals I know. US policing in particular has strong links with forces in the UK and in recent months our conversations have focussed particularly on sharing lessons of policing against declining budgets. That is why I have suggested to the Home Secretary that we host an international policing conference where we can bring all these ideas together.

The inference I am closed to ideas from other jurisdictions is flawed on every level. Firstly, I am a friend of Bill Bratton. We both served for exactly the same time in Northern Ireland and LA. Indeed he was one of the first people I invited to speak at a conference I organised in Northern Ireland in 2008. I also met Bill with other Chiefs in Scotland Yard at the invitation of Sir John Stevens to discuss issues of mutual interest when he was Commissioner and have spent time with him in LA.

I also sit on the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the US Chiefs' organisation for larger forces in America. In fact I am the only non-US member, which is a huge honour. I recently briefed the Vice President of the United States on the current challenges we face in UK policing with fellow PERF board members.

I have been privileged to speak more recently at conferences in Australia, New Zealand and Canada where I talked on issues of leading change and terrorism.

It is also worth noting, the other direction, Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police has been in demand in America to share lessons of GMP’s success in tackling gangs. Our leadership has much to offer the Government and that is why Chiefs were slightly surprised that the service was not asked for its view before seeking advice from overseas.

It is disappointing to see a mounting attack on British policing that has stood the test of time. We have much to be proud of in our model of policing and we are determined to preserve and sustain it. But let no one think we are not open to continual challenge, change and improvement. What we need now is a mature, reasoned and evidence-based debate that fairly recognises expertise and ensures we move policing forward.

We have a police service that has always been willing to acknowledge and learn from mistakes, a largely unarmed service based on principals of minimum force, minimum interference with citizens rights, yet when necessary prepared to stamp its authority on those who choose to break the law. A service that has reduced crime year on year by working with the communities it serves. It is reassuring to see that the public, who we ultimately serve to protect, understands the complexity of our world as evidenced by recent surveys. We police with consent, we must never forget that.

Sir Hugh Orde is President of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

A version of this article appeared in The Times (subscription required) on Thursday 18 August.

Sara Thornton: Providing the best leaders, 29 July 2011

Everyone who cares about an organisation would want it to have the very best leaders. I am responsible, as director of the Police National Assessment Centre , for the selection of both high flyers and chief officers, and personally think we have many great leaders in the police service who have delivered significant reductions in crime and significant increases in public confidence. However, I am open to any suggestion that would enhance the leadership of policing further.

There are few more important institutions in a democracy than the police, and we all want the service to have the right leadership, culture and values.

The controversy surrounding illegal activity by News International and its relationship with politicians and the Met has caused questions to be asked about police leadership and culture. The prime minister’s statement to the Commons last week, saying he wanted to see “how we can open up our police force and bring in fresh leadership”, is prompting debate in the service. It was the first time I had heard the government voice this concern, and I remain unclear whether the proposal has been carefully considered or whether it was an expedient response to events. But before it gets a head of steam, a few things must be said.

Firstly, most forces are shedding senior police posts and many are not recruiting new officers. In my own force I have removed a management layer to focus on the frontline.

We also need to be clear about the roles carried out by police leaders. My chief officer team in Thames Valley is seven strong – five police officers and two police staff. All the officers are graduates and four were on the high flyer scheme. The two members of police staff have both worked outside policing and bring their particular expertise in finance, HR and technology to the table.

I assume the proposal is that senior managers could be brought into police officer roles. I am not opposed in principle, but would insist on competence for the role, which involves authorising covert operations and the use of firearms and being available 24/7 to provide leadership with critical incidents such as murders or multiple fatal incidents.

It is not good enough for our public to have mere administrators as their chief police officers. In life or death situations, where would that leave accountability? Management functions could be carried out by a generalist, but there are also specific risk-based responsibilities that require expertise in policing.

We have a national high flyer scheme and there are some fantastic young officers on it. Nearly 500 have applied for the scheme this year and about 50 will be selected – competition is tough. These are individuals who would flourish in any organisation but have the substantial advantage of having exercised the powers of a constable at first hand.

Decision-making and discretion in the office of constable really are the bedrock of policing, because it is the level at which most public and policing interactions take place. In leaders, an understanding of these situations is critical. Accelerated promotion has generally served us well – we have nurtured the brightest and the best, but ensured that opportunity is open to all.

In 2009 I sat on the government inquiry into Fair Access to the Professions. What struck me was that the opportunity-hoarding by the middle classes so evident in the traditional professions was not true for the police service. In the police there was intragenerational social mobility. Most of my middle-ranking officers had degrees, but many had studied in their own time, having joined with few qualifications. Sir Robert Peel didn’t want gentlemen in his newly formed Metropolitan Police because he sought to make it a meritocracy – in 1829, a gentleman would have bought a senior role.

However, the leadership is still overwhelmingly white and male. One advantage of bringing in people from outside is that you can change the mix far more quickly. We have pursued numerous initiatives and while progress is being made with women it is far too slow in respect of ethnic minorities, partly because it takes at least 20 years to become a chief officer. Lateral entry holds some attraction for this reason alone, but “battle-hardened colonels” will hardly change the mix.

Traditionally, all officers start at the bottom and work their way up. However, policing has never been more challenging and it is right to consider new ways of providing the best leaders. But we must ensure the debate is informed by a good understanding of current arrangements – strengths as well as weaknesses. It is far from clear that the benefits of such changes outweigh the potential cost.

Sara Thornton is Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and vice-president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Phil Gormley: Recovery of vehicles - the truth, 28 June 2011

Every motorist will have seen crashed vehicles at the side of the road waiting to be removed. If we’re lucky we pass them or overtake them with ease. If we’re not so lucky we might get stuck behind them in a traffic jam for hours, waiting for the vehicle to be removed and the debris to be cleared.

It falls to the police to ensure the removal of these vehicles from the road where they are causing an obstruction or danger. Not a core police task, you might think, but in helping to prevent further accidents, it is one which can be an important part of the police mission to protect life.

So far so straightforward, but in recent days two sets of allegations, both of which are false have emerged concerning the police role in relation to traffic collisions.

The first of these concerns is an allegation made by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) that we sell the details of people involved in traffic collisions to ambulance chasing compensation lawyers. This is simply untrue, we do not.

The second allegation suggests the service is involved in a ‘cynical racket’ together with the insurance industry and vehicle recovery operators. This again is utterly false.

So what is the truth?

I believe this is a simple confusion of the issue of referral fees paid to claims management companies, which Jack Straw MP has termed the insurance industry’s ‘dirty secret’ and the practical task of clearing roads after a collision. It’s unsurprising that police forces are not always able to carry out this task themselves and therefore require the help of recovery companies.

When it’s possible for a driver to arrange their own recovery within a set period of time, the police will allow the driver to make those arrangements. But in most cases, drivers are unable to arrange their own recovery.

When this is the case police can rely on a long established recovery and storage scheme for vehicles that are broken down, abandoned or involved in collisions on the roads. This scheme operates under law and is operated to ensure the safety of other road users and that the free-flow of traffic is maintained to minimise disruption. Vehicles are recovered to prevent them being subject to arson, theft or damage and to prevent them being used by others in criminal activities.

Details provided by the police to vehicle recovery agents under these schemes are provided purely to manage the vehicles recovered so that they may be either released efficiently back to the owners or the insurance companies involved. The recovery operators work under the Data Protection Act, just like the Police do. They are not permitted to pass on the details of individuals involved in traffic collisions for any other purpose.

Clearing the roads does come with a cost though. Costs that we believe – and the Government agrees – shouldn’t fall to the public purse. Particularly at a time when police forces are fighting to save money and preserve their service to the public.

The fees charged are prescribed by law and are set to reflect both the size of the vehicle to be recovered and the difficulty of its removal.

In most cases, although there are exceptions, this charge is £150 for a car. The police retain a proportion of the agreed statutory charge in order to cover the administration and maintenance of the schemes and to offset some of the expenses incurred in holding vehicles involved in the commission of crime or with evidential value.

This has become known as a management ‘fee’ but is, more accurately, retention of money which already belongs to the force concerned. There is no such thing as a ‘Referral Fee’ in this context, as the money is the property of the force and is paid into a fund, from which recovery services are paid for.

The member of the public pays no more than the statutory charge and is not disadvantaged in any way by the arrangements relating to how the money is dealt with, once paid.

If any individual or organisation has evidence of police officers offering the details of those involved in collisions for sale, they should report it to the relevant police force and those concerned will be rigorously investigated for both disciplinary and criminal offences. The service understands the importance of personal information and treats it with utmost integrity. Any behaviour to the contrary will not be tolerated.

We understand that there is a broad debate taking place about the culture within which legal claims and insurance firms operate, and that may be uncomfortable for some. But it is disappointing that some are so eager to misrepresent the police role and opportunistic when it comes to unfairly attacking the service.

Police officers want to focus on catching criminals, keeping people safe on the roads and serving the public. Thankfully, the number of road traffic collisions has reduced sharply in recent years. Removing damaged or abandoned vehicles from the road is simply a task that needs to be done to help ensure that reduction continues.

Phil Gormley is Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary and ACPO Head of Roads Policing.

John Feavyour: Police complaints and improving public service, 23 June 2011

The job of a police officer is unique in society, with officers routinely placing themselves in dangerous and stressful situations to keep the public safe. It’s also a role to which certain powers are entrusted, of arrest and control of the public, given to a police officer by sworn oath and warrant. As the holder of an office, rather than an employee, each police officer has personal liability for their action or inaction.

With these proud responsibilities comes a requirement for high standards in professional and personal lives. So it’s critical that when a member of the public considers that the conduct of a police officer or staff members has been unsatisfactory of improper, that they are taken seriously within a complaints system that is rigorous and commands the confidence of both the public and those working in the service.

Last year, police forces recorded 58,399 complaints by members of the public.1 It’s important to understand what lies behind that figure. Police officers and staff have thousands of interactions with the public each day – over the course of one year 40% of adults will have some form of encounter with the police service.2 Looked at in those terms, the figures seem low, particularly when the Financial Services Authority reports there were nearly 10,000 complaints a day about financial institutions in the last six months of 2010. Tempting though comparisons may be, however, they’re not in fact very helpful. A key difference in policing is that we don’t really want the numbers of complaints to fall. The value of that information is that is helps us improve our service to the public, so we want people to give their views.

Something of concern is that almost half of complaints made about police officers and staff in the last year related to incivility, being rude or lateness. That suggests the Home Secretary is right to say that most of the time people want a simple apology – not necessarily a lengthy form to fill in. We need supervisors to take responsibility in these cases by dealing with them swiftly and sensibly.

At the higher end of the scale, if alleged conduct is so serious that dismissal from the force would be justified, then it is investigated as ‘gross misconduct’, and a disciplinary panel can dismiss without notice if the case is proven. The Times recently questioned why many misconduct hearings are held behind closed doors but in fact, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which has oversight of the whole police complaints system, has the power to direct a hearing be in public where it is in the public interest.

Looking at other professions, as a general rule the only discipline hearings conducted in public for teachers, doctors, nurses or lawyers are those which involve serious breaches of codes of conduct and therefore involve their professional bodies, the General Teaching Council, General Medical Council, Nurses and Midwives Council or Law Society. Even then either party can apply to have a hearing in private, while the majority of hearings are conducted by the direct employer and are always held in private.

To return to my first point, with the responsibilities entrusted to it, the role of a police officer is different, so the IPCC has a role to play in exercising its judgement proportionately. There is a subtle difference between something being in the public interest, and something else being of interest to the public. It’s also worth noting that in all police misconduct proceedings the complainant or interested person has the absolute right to attend.

Measuring consistency in the way complaints are dealt with across forces is problematic, especially while the Home Office and police leadership are pushing for common sense solutions at a local level. The bottom line is that when circumstances and priorities in each force are different, each and every case must be looked at individually. But the public can be reassured that we do not tolerate serious misconduct and that those who fail to adhere to our high standards will be dismissed.

My final point is that the police service needs to be careful to avoid a defensive mindset. Everyone in policing needs to be focussed on driving up our service to the public and to do that we need their input, of which complaints are an important part.

John Feavyour is ACPO lead for complaints and misconduct and Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police.


1. The Independent Police Complaints Commission Report: Police Complaint Statistics for England and Wales, 2009/2010.
2. Nicholas, S., Flatley, J., Hoare, J., Patterson, A., Southcott, C., Moley, S. and Jansson, K. (2008) Circumstances of crime, neighbourhood watch membership and perceptions of policing: findings from the 2006/07 British Crime Survey. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 06/08. London: Home Office.

Sir Norman Bettison: Prevent Review, 7 June 2011

Before July 2005, the focus of counter-terrorism strategy was terrorists crossing our borders to carry out their deeds. Of the 4 ‘P’s of Contest (the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy), Prepare, Protect and, following up on the national security leads to Pursue those who threatened harm on our shores were the ones that mattered. To be candid, any talk of Prevent was about trying to interdict between known intent and detonation – almost catching people in the act.

West Yorkshire Police was represented in the witness box at the 7/7 inquest. In reviewing the evidence beforehand, I was struck by how anachronistic our procedures and relationships with other agencies and communities were, and perhaps because of that, how limited our reach and ability to influence the upstream activity that comes long before an intent to do violent harm.

Immediately after 7/7 but, more particularly because of 21/7, the police and security agencies were propelled into Pursue. The Tiger Tiger nightclub attempt and other high profile terrorist plans occupied centre ground. Pursue activity has clarity, it has targets, it has professional tactics and techniques in which everyone understands their role and responsibility. It has outcomes – arrests, successful prosecutions and terrorists put out of commission and we can see all of that.

So what of Prevent? Any analysis of 7/7 reveals lost opportunities long before four men set off to London on the eve of the bombings. Hasib Hussain used to write in his exercise books at Matthew Murray School of the glory of Al-Qaeda. Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer were part of a group of young men who went on outward bound weekends in 2001 organised by radical extremists. Germaine Lindsay, the fourth bomber, was born into a Christian family and converted to Islam as a teenager adopting the most belligerent interpretations of the Qur’an. He was, on everyone’s view, an angry young man.

Where was the disruption to those promoting extremism and the support of those vulnerable to recruitment?

Contest was first issued in 2003. But what happened in the aftermath of the July 2005 bombings changed the focus and the emphasis for its future. 7/7 showed us that whilst hatred was fashioned and schooled overseas, its impact on young men living in Britain was devastating. There were and still are sufficient young men (and occasionally women) born and bred in Britain who have grievances, feel anger, societal detachment - and some suffer mental illness - which make them all susceptible to the call of hatred, violence and even martyrdom. The internet can provide a context; radicalisers and agents of Al-Qaeda can provide the wherewithal and coordination.

The idea of Prevent is pretty immature in policing terms but our commitment, strategy and actions stand up to comparison with other sectors. Our idea, since 2008, (less than 36 months in development) has been to mainstream prevention of violent extremism into day-to-day policing, through neighbourhood policing which we do throughout the country in the heart of every community. Better community engagement can create a conversation about risks and harms. Our Act Now and Operation Nicole tabletop exercises, for example, are scenarios involving violent extremism explored with community groups who play the part of different constituencies and perspectives.

Better intelligence collection and analysis and broadening information sharing with partners and communities through our counter terrorism local profiles have all been integral areas of work.

Equally important is encouraging partnership working to support vulnerable individuals and sites. A particular example is multi-agency case conferencing and interventions under the Channel programme, which has intervened with over 1,000 young people (often young men) often, but not exclusively, Muslim. Critically, the interventions have not been police- led. More often than not they have involved mentoring and counselling. Not one of the young people engaged through Channel has ever been arrested or detained in relation to a terrorism-related crime.

Of course critics might say that is proof we are targeting the wrong people. But what if Hasib Hussain had received mentoring, counselling or challenge in his formative years?

Pursue activity can highlight people on the periphery for Prevent intervention and equally we can ensure that there is a process of escalation, if necessary, from Prevent to Pursue. That is, after all, what the police do and I don’t hide from the fact that in policing terms our preventing and our pursuing might sometimes overlap. I reject, completely, that the two occupy the same territory.

Of course, the police service understands that integration is a fundamental aspect of preventing grievance and hatred in the first place. We understand that any Prevent strategy worth its salt must be capable of tackling all kinds of extremism and not just Islamist extremism. That has been central to our strategy all along. Right-wing hatred gives way to violent intent, as we have proved through the arrests by the north-east counter terrorism unit of right-wing extremists armed with weapons, homemade bombs and Ricin. These men might equally just as easily been challenged and counselled and stopped before our dawn arrests in recent months.

So where to from here?

The Prevent review has been completed and the revised strategy now published. The Department for Communities and Local Government, as well as the Home Office, has considered a vision for the future.

Last year, after two and a half years of working to embed Prevent on the ground, I was hunting for some evidence that it had had any effect. While the ultimate target, the fact of no explosions cannot be laid exclusively at the door of Prevent. I therefore commissioned some academic research from Martin Innes, of Cardiff University, who was the author of the seminal research into post 7/7 impact on relations between Muslim Communities and both the police and Government.

This new research highlights the fact that the policing approach to preventing violent extremism has become more sophisticated and has not caused widespread damage or harm to relationships between Muslim communities and the police. It also shows that communities are increasingly taking the lead in challenging violent extremism. What we need to do now, moving forward, is to refine the Prevent policing approach so that it reaches deeper into communities.

The threat of Islamist terrorism remains severe which means that an attack is highly likely and could occur, without warning, at any time. To do nothing in the face of vulnerability to the Al-Qaeda single narrative is irresponsible. That is why Prevent is necessary.

We should learn lessons from the implementation of the Prevent policing approach, but it has also left us with some excellent legacies which should not be ignored. The police service looks forward to building on the important work already achieved over the last three years.

Sir Norman Bettison is the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and ACPO lead on Prevent.

Janet Williams: Policing cyberspace, 9 May 2011

Policing cyberspace: Janet Williams, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and ACPO lead on E-Crime, on how UK police are tackling e-crime.

I see cyber crime as a classic example of what is known in the service as 'invisible' policing: one in the rapidly growing array of tasks which the service carries out away from public view. Though so critical to public safety cyber crime is recognised by the National Security Council as second only to international terrorism in terms of the risk it poses, I'm not sure how aware the public are of the work which goes on to counter it. We need to change the narrative a little to recognise that actually, while it is global in nature and active in a virtual space, which may seem remote, it is individual citizens who get harmed by cyber crime. The connection between what my officers are doing and what happens locally is felt directly by every person who has an account compromised, credit card cloned or identity stolen, and indirectly by everyone else who pays for the damage caused in higher prices and insurance premiums. It's estimated that cyber crime costs the UK £27billion a year. (1)

Over the past three years considerable funds and resources have been invested into setting up the Police Central E-Crime Unit (PCeU), housed within the Metropolitan Police but providing a national response. It requires a high level of technical expertise from the officers charged to do the job, plus hi-tech kit. That all adds up to a considerable outlay, but it's definitely a case of 'can we afford not to do it?’. For every £1 invested in the operational activity the Police Central eCrime Unit runs through a ‘Virtual Task Force’, we currently return £21 in savings. That provides a good business case for investment.

The task force approach is absolutely crucial to the way we tackle the problem. Made up of partners in industry, academia, and other law enforcement agencies, the Virtual Task Force harnesses intelligence that the business sector possesses and couples them with the investigative skills of my officers. The approach has been so successful that investigations which would previously have taken three years are now taking three months or less. We are able to see online criminality happening in real time and disrupt illegal transactions as they happen. To take two examples, Operation Poplin led to the arrest of 13 non-UK nationals who had planned an attack using a Trojan virus. The group had access to £18.5million through compromised accounts. Operation Pagode saw four individuals jailed a combined total of over 20 years, for their part in an online criminal forum trading credit cards and information. The financial losses linked to this forum added up to over £20million.

There are some challenges we need to look at. One example is the time it takes to gather evidence from foreign jurisdictions using the existing 'Commission Rogatoire' system. As the name suggests, the system dates to another day and age and hundreds of years of legal practice. But the criminality we face recognises no boundaries. Transactions leap from country to country in the blink of an eye, and those who exploit that potential deliberately make the trail as difficult to follow as they can. Excellent collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and the private sector has helped us but requesting evidence through the Commission Rogatoire takes time. It hasn't stopped us bringing prosecutions but certainly slows us down, and therefore that time which could be spent targeting other criminals is lost. That's a description of the problem: it will be for the Home Office to look at it and consider whether there is a case for updating legislation to keep pace.

Another challenge is developing forensic tools to help us extract the information we need from computers. People's whole lives these days are on their hard drives and the forensic capability to sift that information quickly to find what we need is really important. At the moment, the hi-tech officers we use on that task across the country are working almost exclusively in the child protection area. We are working closely with industry on this to develop and give those specialist officers faster tools for this job which will let them cover more ground. If we can do that, we can free up more time for them to cover cyber crime in the wider sense.

Looking to the future I see us taking the taskforce approach to other sectors like telecoms and energy, where we know it can be as successful as it has proved to be in financial services. We will get further ahead of this problem if people are willing to share intelligence with each other and with us. Another significant step forward will be to establish three regional hubs working with PCeU, which we aim to do later this year. These will be small units - probably around two very highly trained detectives, and a sergeant with some high level kit, linked into existing regional capability created to tackle organised criminality.

Finally, we do need people to realise that they can really make a difference and help themselves by ensuring they are adequately protected online. I'm sometimes asked whether I use the internet myself to shop or bank. The answer is yes to the former and no to the latter - but that's more because I haven't got round to it than anything else! There are lots of things that citizens can do to protect themselves - some of them pretty straightforward like not using the same password across every online account. We're working with Get Safe Online, a government service that provides free advice to both businesses and members of the public about how to use the internet safely.

This is an area of policing that we consider to be a priority and the progress we have made in the three years since PCeU was established shows that. We're working technically from the 'back office' but in my mind the service we provide is quite clearly frontline - protecting the public on a daily basis as they carry out routine transactions online. Again, it demonstrates how all the job of a uniformed police officer must marry up with the unseen work we do in order to keep the public safe from harm.



1. Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance and Detica report, The Cost of Cyber Crime

Mark Rowley: Surrey Police, bureaucracy and the frontline, 15 April 2011

Mark Rowley is Chief Constable of Surrey Police, and ACPO lead on futures.

The Telegraph has been a fierce advocate for police reform, an enthusiastic supporter of the coalition government's ambitious agenda. Police service leaders are currently taxed by financial imperatives, the potential recessionary rise in demand and the need to continually question and improve our service. An article last week by Michael Nicholson seemed to me, as a serving Chief Constable, to be nothing more than a counsel of despair. It prompted me to give some of my thoughts on the issues raised.

Surrey Police, which I have the privilege to lead, is the only force growing the number of police constables despite cuts, albeit not as great as many other forces who start from widely differing financial positions. From a baseline of 1,345 we have set out to grow our number of constables by 200. The force is not in debt, nor is it withdrawing local policing teams. We are pursuing four avenues of reform; cutting management by nearly half and empowering the frontline, cutting support services by over 40 per cent, collaborating with neighbours and sharing buildings.

This last point is contentious, but another fact may assist. Surrey County Council have led an audit of publicly owned buildings in Surrey - a county with a population of 1.1 million. The results are staggering –over 6,000 public buildings, because from central government to local agencies we have not been joined up. In Surrey, we are putting local policing teams in buildings alongside others - such as community centres and council offices. Shared rent makes them more viable, while we sell and more importantly, stop maintaining, ramshackle estate built between 1870 and 1970, that the public rarely visits. Unsurprisingly, consultation shows the public want patrolling officers and PCSOs above buildings!

Is it all working? Only a year in, the signs are encouraging. Crime is down and I can produce lots of other statistics – but I know the scepticism they provoke. The public’s view and our independent research tells us that when people call us for help regarding crime or anti-social behaviour, not only do a majority start with a positive view of Surrey’s policing, but four times as many end with their opinion improved rather than disappointed.

Much has been written on police bureaucracy. Rightly so, but often for the wrong reasons. Some bureaucracy is essential - the courts want reliable records with 'i’s dotted and 't’s crossed. But much is not and, more importantly, disables the discretion of frontline. On Google, quotes from every Home Secretary since Michael Howard express a determination to 'cut red tape'. But though the rhetoric has always been the same, successive governments have increased the burden over 25 years.

For example, the rules currently require even a push has to be recorded as an assault with no room for discretion - and then the imperative that detection rates should rise leads even a minor altercation between teenagers to result in a petty prosecution or caution. Those chiefs who refuse to play that game - I am one - are regularly criticised for poor detection rates. The reality is I encourage frontline officers to use their common sense - to find pragmatic solutions: the modern equivalent of a clip round the ear! The Home Office is well practiced at persuading successive ministers to hang on the seductive levers of targets and rules 'just in case', in the naive belief national stricture can prevent local errors. I hope Theresa May is more successful with the scissors than her predecessors.

Last week's article also expressed dismay that many frontline officers are not visible. That is because the 'frontline' includes officers doing surveillance against organised crime, forensics experts, detectives investigating everything from murder to burglary, officers investigating child abuse and domestic violence and trying to support vulnerable victims through the court system and staff who answer 999s calls. There was also confusion as to why fewer than a fifth of those uniformed officers were visible at any moment. But just as rolling news has a dozen presenters come and go over a week on the BBC or Sky, policing needs many officers to fill one seat. As officers work 40 hours per week, and a week is 168 hours, then to provide a 24/7/365 service inevitably takes more than four officers.

So I learn two things, the fact that policing has to do much unseen work to protect the public from 21st century threats still needs better explanation, and public sector reform remains a leadership challenge to wean people away from symbols such as buildings or comfort blankets such as bureaucracy. To deliver a high quality policing service in the face of these cuts to policing is a challenge that should not be underestimated. But far from taking heed of those counselling despair, in Surrey we are busy getting on with it.

A version of this article appeared in The Telegraph on 11 April 2011.

Chris Sims: Frontline Policing, 11 April 2011

Chris Sims is the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and is the ACPO lead on bureacracy.

The quest to define front line policing is not unlike the medieval cosmologists’ search to find the physical location of heaven and hell. With the perspective of time, we now understand that their failure to see heaven between the earth and the stars or to feel the heat of hell through the soles of their feet was because they were, literally, looking in the wrong dimension.

So it is with front line policing. Efforts to pin it down to a physical location or quantify groups of offices are no more than counting angels on pinheads. The familiar cry of ‘protect the frontline’ should not be about maintaining numbers of uniformed officers but about jealously guarding the things that matter to the public: reducing crime, resolving problems, engaging, serving and offering protection from the less visible, but equally serious, threats of organised crime and terrorism.

The police service recognises this challenge and is applying a ‘can-do’ attitude to making it happen. The body politic, however, frets that the public is not sophisticated enough to rise above the hackneyed demand for more officers on the beat.

So does the recent debate on defining the front line matter or should we treat it as more unintelligible data? Meeting the financial challenges facing the police service is tough. The task becomes impossible if, rather than having the freedom to transform police forces, Chief Constables are constrained by artificial ring-fencing of the front line – now officially defined by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary as 61% of the service.

My own force, West Midlands Police, faces one of the hardest challenges because of its relative reliance on Government grant rather than local tax. We have to close a gap of £125 million, that appears annually, by the end of the four-year Comprehensive Spending Review.

We fully support efforts to save money through changes to national procurement and by adopting a new approach to information technology. Like every force we are rigorously examining the legendary ‘back office’ and challenging how it operates. We are engaged with the private sector to consider the merits of outsourcing and are fighting bureaucracy at every turn. Reducing the number of police forces would provide significant savings but that is politically contentious and not what the Government wants.

None of these strategies should be neglected but the politically safe areas – the so called back offices - offer less scope than might be supposed and cannot alter or hide the twin challenge faced by police finances. Firstly, the cuts are heavily front-loaded meaning that tangible savings must be found in the first two years. Secondly, the policing budget is heavily skewed (perhaps unsustainably) towards staff costs which make up some 85% of the total spend. Given those factors, the harsh reality is that only a reduction in the number of employees, both police officers and police staff can meet the challenge.

Chief constables understand that policing cannot be immune from changes taking place across the public sector. In West Midlands we calculate that we must lose about 2,250 posts over the four years. In painful and difficult circumstances we have already lost about approx 1,000 of these, allowing vacancies to fall predominantly in corporate functions. We are absolutely clear that to protect the policing outcomes that are precious to us and to the people we serve; we will have to in fast time transform the whole organisation. We will need to challenge how we operate and the scope of what we do. An early, perhaps trivial, example is that this week West Midlands Police have announced that we will no longer accept reports of lost property, a largely ineffective but still longstanding police role which costs around £300,000 per year.

Despite the view presented by the inspectorate, that police are largely invisible, most of my officers work in uniform from local police stations. But this part of the police force cannot be immune from cuts of this depth and we have already gathered enough evidence to show that careful attention to process, structure and technology will allow us to deliver more with less.

Staff numbers do matter, of course, but I believe that it is not impossible to continue to aim at service improvement while making the reduction in numbers required. A smaller but reshaped uniform contingent can deliver the visibility and engagement the public wants.

Going forward, I have absolute confidence that we can serve and protect the people of the West Midlands. My greater concerns are about the impact of the cuts on the agencies we work closely with, e.g. in housing, health, social services and education, and, in the longer term, about the impact of the recruitment freeze.

Over the past months I have been presenting this picture to my staff and to the communities of the West Midlands. They may not like it, but they understand and trust the strength and resilience of West Midlands Police and the Police Authority to make the right choices.

Yet at a national level, despite the will of ministers, the debate remains less sophisticated. The ‘protect the front line’ mantra and the political obsession with police numbers remains potent – almost medieval. For the sake of the public this clamour must not be allowed to frustrate our efforts to transform policing.

A version of this article first appeared in The Times on 11 April 2011.

Graeme Gerrard: CCTV surveillance, 3 March 2011

Graeme Gerrard is Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary and ACPO lead on CCTV. Following work carried out by Cheshire Constabulary, here Graeme challenges some common misconceptions about the extent of CCTV usage in the UK.

4.2 million cameras? That’s what we’ve been told, but new research paints a different picture

There is no doubt that we have a lot of CCTV cameras in the UK. Indeed, if you pay much notice of the media, we have more cameras per head of population than any other country! This number is a matter of both interest and concern to the public - if we have more cameras, then it follows that we are being ‘watched’ more frequently - and if we are being watched more frequently, then we have the basis for describing the UK as a ‘Surveillance Society’.

Of course, the components of a ‘surveillance society’ include far more than just CCTV cameras: loyalty cards, communication records, automatic number plate recognition systems (ANPR), coded entry systems, keystroke monitoring of work stations and GPS monitoring of vehicle movements to name but a few. However, it is the image of a CCTV camera that is frequently used by the media to illustrate ‘surveillance society’ related stories – even if the surveillance is not image based.

To claim that we have more CCTV cameras than any other country assumes that we not only know how many cameras there are in the UK but also how many there are in every other country – a questionable assertion because, as I will explain, until now we didn’t even have a reliable estimate of camera numbers in this country.

The supposed Orwellian society that we live in makes an interesting story, so it’s unsurprising then that media continue to use what has actually been shown to be an outdated and discredited figure of 4.2 million without question.

Now, in an attempt to inject more rigorous figures into the debate, we introduce a more reliable number.

4.2 million...or less!

The most quoted figure for the number of cameras in the UK is that produced by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris in 2003. Their estimate of 4.2 million cameras is widely reported both in the UK and abroad. Indeed, so pervasive has the McCahill and Norris figure become that a search of Google identifies over 2400 references and many journalists, some leading academics and until recently, even senior politicians have used the 4.2 million estimate as if it were incontrovertible fact.

But what does the McCahill and Norris figure relate to? Many of those that use the figure have no idea how it was calculated or what type of cameras were counted. Does the figure include all cameras or just those that cover public space? Does it include cameras on private property that you have no access to? Does it include private domestic cameras? What about speed cameras?

Since the UK was one of the first countries to deploy cameras on the street, some commentators have assumed that the 4.2 million figure relates to public space cameras. It doesn’t, but little wonder then that we get headlines such as, “We are the most are spied upon nation in the world.’’

The reality is that the McCahill and Norris figure (4,285,000 to be precise) as based on counting the number of cameras along a road in a busy shopping district. They started by counted the number of publicly accessible premises and established the average number of cameras per location, then added the number of open-street CCTV cameras operated by the Borough Council together with an estimate of those operating in public institutions such as transport, hospitals and schools. This figure was then extrapolated across the whole of London (population 7.2 million residents). They estimated that there were at least 500,000 CCTV cameras in London, or one camera for every 14 residents. Extrapolating this figure across the UK (population of 60 million) gave them the 4.285 million – the number that is quoted by so many to this day.

Those of us who do not live in a highly urbanised area may question the accuracy of extrapolating the number of cameras found in a busy London street across the whole of the UK.

Constant contact

Another statement frequently quoted in conjunction with the 4.28 million figure is that ‘the average Briton is caught on security cameras some 300 times a day’. This figure was produced by Garry Armstrong and Clive Norris in 1999 and is based on the fictional journey of a fictional character as he travels around London on one day.

The character, Thomas Reams, had a busy day indeed. He travelled through his housing estate (which had a drugs problem), visited two schools, a hospital maternity wing, his workplace, a number of shops, several car parks, a railway crossing, Heathrow Airport, a football stadium and a red-light district. As well as using his car (during which his speed was monitored by speed cameras), he also used public transport.

While fictional journeys can be used to illustrate a point, I think it’s questionable whether this particular day is typical of those undertaken by the majority of the UK population! In fact, short of being a cab driver who moonlights as a hospital porter and a train driver, it’s difficult to see how anyone could clock up this many cameras in a day.

In fairness to Armstrong and Norris, they clearly made the point that this was a fictional construction. Indeed, Norris in his evidence before the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution Surveillance and Data Collection Inquiry accepted that the journey had been constructed so that it ‘intersected with known CCTV systems’ and that the overall figure was a ‘guestimate’.

Nonetheless, it is another statistic that has entered public consciousness and is regularly quoted – as if it were fact – by newspapers, the BBC and even the Surveillance Studies Network Report for the Information Commissioner on the Surveillance Society. If you check the 300 a day figure on Google, you get nearly 1300 references.

CCTV camera challenge

In the absence of an alternative estimate of the number of cameras in the UK, it is not surprising that the 4.2 million and 300-a-day figures are still being quoted. Developing a more accurate estimate is not easy, particularly as there is no requirement for the owner of a camera to give notification that they have installed one. The only way of establishing the number of cameras in any given area is to visit all the premises and ask the owners how many cameras they have. This is exactly what has happened in Cheshire, not because we wanted to know how many cameras there are but to map their location for policing purposes.

The mapping project involves visiting premises and recording details of the location of each camera, image quality, recording format, retention period and field of view. This information is then mapped onto a computer-based mapping system that is accessible by officers investigating crimes and incidents.

For example, in the case of a shop, are the cameras covering areas that the public can access or are they covering areas such as the storeroom or warehouse? Likewise, if a camera is externally located, is it watching over private space such as an enclosed yard or does it have a view of the street or space where you will find members of the public? A total of 9,766 cameras provided images, either extensively or fleetingly, of space to which the public (in most cases customers) have access.

These figures do not include those cameras operated by our Unitary Authorities that are located on the streets of our communities and monitor our town centres and other public areas. It is these cameras that generate significant debate and interest both here and abroad.

The Cheshire mapping project is ongoing and in reality is likely to be a never-ending task unless, of course, Parliament were to introduce a requirement for all users of CCTV cameras to give notification as to the number and location of their cameras.

Extrapolating from the data

To establish a total for the UK, we could adopt the methodology used by McCahill and Norris and extrapolate the Cheshire figure across the whole of the UK. However, we want to ensure that we reflect the differences in camera concentrations that occur between urban and rural areas, something that they failed to do.

National Statistics data indicates that 64 per cent of the UK population resides in urban areas with the rest living in rural areas. We identified which of our local authority wards were urban and rural and then selected the most extensively mapped wards at a ratio that reflects the urban/rural split in the UK population.

Camera concentrations in the urban areas of Cheshire range from 0.6 to 25.4 cameras per 100 population with a mean average of 3.6. Concentrations in rural areas range from 0.3 to 7.7 cameras per 100 population with a mean average of 0.9. An overall average, using a ratio of urban and rural areas that matches the national position, gives us 2.805 cameras per 100 population. On this basis, extrapolating the Cheshire findings across the UK population (60,776,238) gives us a figure of 1,704,238 cameras.

To this figure we need to add the public space CCTV cameras operated by local authorities. The CCTV User Group published figures in January 2009 following a survey of Local Authorities. They identified 29,703 public space cameras in England and Wales. If we extrapolate this figure to give us a UK-wide figure then we end up with 33,443 cameras. Interestingly, extrapolating Cheshire’s 504 public space cameras to give a UK figure gives us a figure of 30,631 cameras which is within 10 per cent of the CCTV User Group’s estimate.

Combining the premises CCTV with the public space CCTV gives us a figure of 1,737,681 cameras. In the original McCahill and Norris estimate, they added a sum of cameras to account for street CCTV cameras operated by the Borough Council together with an estimate of those operating in public institutions such as transport, hospitals and schools. Cheshire’s mapping project captured the public institutions, while the open street cameras were counted by the CCTV User Group. That leaves us with ‘transport’. Assessing these numbers is difficult as there are cameras on trains, railway stations and the London Underground, not to mention some in buses.

Here our figures become less precise and we have to rely on the estimates of others. Estimates in London indicate that 2000 cameras watch over London’s over-ground railway stations and a further 11,000 operate on the London Underground system. We know that London has a particularly high concentration of cameras covering its transport infrastructure and so extrapolating the London numbers across the UK would give an unrealistically high figure.

Myth buster

What of the 300-a-day figure? Well, we tested that as well. Instead of using a mythical character who undertook a journey to all the local CCTV hotspots, we used real people undertaking real journeys. Using the mapping information and their own observations, we listed all the ANPR, traffic light, and speed cameras that they passed, together with those business premises cameras that may have captured a fleeting glance of their vehicle as it passed by. We added the local authority cameras plus those in the various shops and leisure centres that they visited as they went about their normal activities. Finally, we added those cameras at their workplace. The figures ranged from 42 cameras to 101 with the mean average of 68. This is a far cry from the 300 a day that the media regularly use.

The mapping project in Cheshire has provided us with an opportunity to re-assess the number of cameras within the UK. What we have attempted to do is count the same type of surveillance cameras that McCahill and Norris counted but with a methodology that we felt would provide a more accurate estimate.

Only half the cameras

Eight years after the 4.2 million figure was first published, we now have research that indicates that the figure is less than half this.

If anyone asks us for a figure for the number of CCTV cameras in the UK, we will tell them that the best research we have to date says it is approximately 1.85 million. And the real figure for the number of times the average person is likely to be ‘caught’ on CCTV in a day is less than 70 – and most of these will be at your workplace or fleeting glimpses by cameras located in shops.

Are we still the most watched nation of earth? Since we have yet to see estimates from other countries it is impossible to say, but hopefully those that claim that we are will now have the opportunity to revise their figures.

Garry Shewan: Stalking and harassment, 10 February 2011

Garry Shewan is Assistant Chief Constable at Greater Manchester Police, and ACPO lead on stalking and harassment and restorative justice.

Panorama’s recently aired “Stop stalking me” (January 31st, 2011) was a good insight into what has historically been an overlooked and misunderstood issue – it really captured the essence of what it is like to be a victim of long term stalking.

The most important thing I can say is that those who feel vulnerable should be in no doubt that stalking and harassment is taken extremely seriously by the police service and its chief officers.

That point is vital because if we are to continue improving the response to this crime the first thing we need is victims to come forward to the police. They have to have the confidence to do so.

We are all too aware that the experience of being stalked can destroy the lives of victims, and tragically, in some cases, may end in violence or murder.

The police service is in many ways unique in the public sector – openly acknowledging mistakes is part of our culture. And it’s fair to say there have been cases where things have gone wrong, where it can rightly be said that victims have been let down. Such cases have raised the need for what could perhaps be described as a fundamental change in attitude to stalking across the service as a whole. We might not have achieved that just yet – but we’re getting there.

The problem is complex - caused in part by the lack of a legal definition of what constitutes stalking. Stalking is commonly made up of a variety of behaviours, which in themselves, aren’t criminal. A series of incidents that when taken in isolation can appear trivial, however, when put together, become far more sinister. In the past, a lack of understanding around the risks associated with stalking has led to some officers not recognising the cumulative effect of such behaviours, and crucially, the harm this causes to the victim.

It’s important that any victim of stalking should be sure that when they make a report to the police, they are receiving the same high standard of service – regardless of where they are in the country. The way the service has dealt with stalking has historically been fragmented, so it is critical - through ACPO - to encourage forces to adopt a standard approach all such cases.

We’ve achieved a lot in recent years. Effective guidance, encouraging forces to adopt a dedicated stalking and harassment policy, and a standard approach to training is integral to what we’ve been doing. The challenge, of course, is making sure all 43 forces use them!

So a massive part of this is actually about raising the profile of this really horrific crime, ensuring it’s taken seriously. It’s also about recognising the effect the behaviour of stalkers has on victims (the service has, in my opinion, led the criminal justice system in recognising the harm that stalking causes) and ensuring that officers have the right understanding of the issues so they can identify, and ultimately protect, victims.

We believe that working with the charity sector (and victims), is crucial to a better understanding of how we can improve the service we provide. With the support of ACPO, a National Stalking Helpline was launched in April last year, in collaboration with victim’s charities. We’ve also established one contact in each force whose job it is to work closely with the helpline, taking referrals where appropriate, and who has a key role in raising force-wide awareness of stalking issues.

It has to be said that the issue is undoubtedly one for the criminal justice system as whole, however. At a time when public sector budgets are under pressure, finding ways to share good practice and improve our response is absolutely essential.

Last year, the CPS produced guidelines on prosecuting stalking at the request of the police service, which highlighted the need for agencies to work together to ensure that the best evidence is gathered and presented to the court, as well as emphasising the importance of providing support to victims through access to support groups. The Association, alongside the Home Office also hosted a stalking and harassment conference in December, with the aim of sharing good practice, promoting guidance, and imparting victim experiences across all 43 forces and other criminal justice agencies.

While I’m truly encouraged by the good work that is being carried out across the CJS, there is always more can always be done. The challenge for the future will be to continue in our commitment to raise awareness of this awful crime, and ensure that all 43 forces are using the tools and guidance available to them.

Sir Hugh Orde: A new direction, 26 January 2011

When I was elected by police chiefs as President of the Association of Chief Police Officers a year and a half ago, I began by noting the opportunity to set a new direction for ACPO that ensures it continues to respond to the changing world of policing, supporting the police service and the men and women on the frontline whom Chief Officers command. My words were 'our standards and principles must be clear and the need for our existence unambiguous'.

In the particular world of policing, with 44 Chief Constables covering territory side by side across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, other operational agencies such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency hovering above, and some non operational bodies such as councils and other partners working alongside us, setting and meeting standards that deliver the best possible policing to protect the public is quite a challenge. There is a strong case - chief officers believe - to look at reconfiguring those structures to match evolving threats and risk to the public in the 21st century. But we should not forget that it is a structure which has led to a style of policing - locally focussed, operationally independent and accountable - that is recognised as world class.

It is also a style that requires a forum where, after debate, a corporate approach to the overarching standards that guide our profession is established. As police leaders it has to be our role in ACPO to maintain and develop those standards and ensure that they are clearly understood by all those who should know them.

All this is worth re-visiting after an extremely difficult couple of weeks for policing, in the face of media and parliamentary scrutiny surrounding both the status of ACPO and the use of undercover officers. It is worth reminding ourselves that the direction of travel, towards an Association firmly focussed on the role of professional body as I have outlined above, is one chief officers themselves choose and embrace. It is also strongly reflected in the Government's consultation document Policing in the 21st Century.

Over its history the Association has, time and again, been required to fill the gap where there has been a requirement for an effective, co-ordinated policing response. As a body composed of the police service's chief officers, it is uniquely placed to do so – providing a pragmatic solution where no national agency or alternative structure exists. We have, over the years, provided a de facto framework to house a number of tasks, carried out on behalf of the service through a pooled effort rather than individually in 44 separate organisations.

As an organisation that profoundly impacts upon public life, it is absolutely right that we should be subject to a clear accountability structure. Indeed, since becoming president, I have been vocal on my desire to move ACPO away from limited company status – a step we are wholly committed to, but which, it must be said, also requires impetus from Government to be achieved.

It is heartening then that we have a real opportunity to drive forward this agenda in 2011, a year that will undoubtedly hold great changes for both ACPO and the service as a whole. We have already secured inclusion for the Association under the Freedom of Information Act and await with great interest the publication of Peter Neyroud’s report on leadership and training, an important piece of work - currently with the Home Secretary - which I hope will be a catalyst to move on the debate and bring meaningful changes to the way we operate.

A word on undercover policing. The small community of officers tasked to carry out this exceptionally challenging job place themselves in real danger, day in, day out, dealing overwhelmingly with dangerous individuals in the higher echelons of criminality. It should also be stressed that those officers I have known in this area are remarkably brave people - dedicated professionals - who would not dream of working beyond their authorisation or in a way that might be of detriment to the service or their investigation.

It is through their work that critical intelligence is gathered, enabling us to detect and prevent serious crime, and ultimately, to keep the public safe from harm.

Questions of accountability have of course been raised as a result of the intense media interest surrounding undercover policing. However, I think we now have a proper approach with reviews into the individual conduct and the strategic issues that have emerged from the cases in the press. Policing in our tradition has always sought accountability, because it is from accountability that springs legitimacy and consent. I am confident that, as ever, the service will respond positively to scrutiny and that the lessons learnt will be of benefit to policing moving forward.