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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