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New decision-making body should bring chiefs and PCCs together, report says


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New arrangements could make process of national decision-making stronger, according to analyst.

Rick Muir from the Police Foundation

Rick Muir from the Police Foundation


The two main police governing bodies should be merged to fix a “muddled and confusing” decision making process at centre of policing in England and Wales, a policing expert has said.

A stark report warning policing is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" as neighbourhood presences are stripped back and vast numbers of crimes go unsolved, was released by the Home Affairs Select Committee this week.

It lambasted a lack of leadership in the service, largely pinning the blame on the Home Office.

It also called for the establishment of a new National Policing Council, a policy-making body chaired by the Home Secretary — and a National Policing Assembly, comprising all police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and chief constables. 

These would come into being after a thorough Home Office review of policing reallocates responsibilities and capabilities at a local, regional and national level.

Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation think tank, told Police Oracle that the change is crucial, because of the lack of a “strong strategic centre” and the local focus taken by PCCs and chief constables.

Larger policing areas such as forensics, cyber-crime, modern slavery and procurement should be overseen at a national level, he said.

He added: “We have 43 PCCs and chiefs constables – so you need all 86 to agree on a point before anything happens.

“The Home Office dictates what happens and the money to make it happen, but there is a need for a central decision-making hub to decide on regional matters.”

Mr Muir said this could be done by combining the National Police Chiefs' Council with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and changing their voting systems to a majority-based system from their current unanimous ones.

“At the moment there is confusion over who makes the decisions and it is muddled. There needs to be clarity”, he said.

When Theresa May was Home Secretary, her stance to this approach was quite the opposite whereby she believed policing decisions would be better if made locally and that ACPO was “too powerful”.

“[But] the world has moved on since 2010 and the government needs to think again”, he added.

Speaking on other issues raised in the report, he said police do not have the capability to tackle cybercrime at the moment given a lack of funding and a fall in detectives as well as the City of London, who leads the portfolio, not having the power to hold forces to account.

On funding, he said: “The only way to find more money for the police service will be to increase taxes other wise public services would have seen a decade of financial depletion.

“There is only so much chief constables can do.

“I am pessimistic of the short-term budget, we will not see a big increase. But in the longer term I am more optimistic the public will make a stand. The next government will have to invest more on policing because we have a rise in crime.

“It is quite easy to cut police when crime was falling, now it is rising.”

The Home Office has said it is working with forces to see what priorities they need.

In response to the report's release NPCC chairman Sara Thornton said: "We want to see more involvement and leadership from ministers and officials in the development of strategy and transformation in partnership with chief constables and police and crime commissioners."

She added that the Home Office can't decide what should be delivered at national or local levels on its own, but that the department should set a "broad framework".

View On Police Oracle

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