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.