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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