Speech: Damian Green Speech To The APCC


Speech given by Damian Green on 21 January 2014 to the APCC


Published on 22 January 2014


by The Rt Hon Damian Green MP

(WireNews+Co)

London, England

The Rt Hon Damian Green MP
The Rt Hon Damian Green MP

PCCs are vital in driving reform

It’s been a challenging first year in office for everyone. We asked a lot of you. We asked you to empower communities and hold the police to account – at a time when the economic climate meant we had to make some very difficult decisions about police budgets; and at a time when the reputation of the police has been challenged by the unacceptable actions of a small minority of officers.

But you rose to the occasion. Many of you are tackling these challenges head-on.

You worked hard on behalf of the local communities that elected you. In terms of public awareness and their understanding of your role, undoubtedly you have had a bigger impact in a single year than police authorities did in the decade before that.

Improving services through reform

And we asked you to join us in radically transforming the police– embracing new technology, exploring new ways of collaborative working and driving new ideas to improve policing and increase efficiency. And that is what I want to talk about mostly today – collaboration.

There have been some great success stories so far.

  • To use an example from my local force, Kent is using Predictive Policing, which combines historic data with predictive algorithms, to identify areas most likely to be affected by crime to help allocate resources and target officers according to demand. So far this seems to have worked well.

  • Northamptonshire and Cheshire, two forces separated by geography but united in collaboration, have created a joint shared service providing 24 hour HR advice, uniform ordering and admin functions. The two forces had already centralised these functions independently but recognised that joining together and sharing the investment cost would be more cost effective.

  • West Midlands Police used ‘Priority Based Budgeting’ to re-examine services and challenge ways of working identifying savings of £48.7 million in the process.

  • And as we have seen recently forces are making increasing use of Body Worn Video. We welcome the use of camera technology to protect the public and to support the police in discharging their duties. Body worn video is a powerful tool and can be used by the police to gather evidence to investigate crime. That evidence could also be used to investigate complaints and hold the police to account, but also evidence I have seen is that it affects behaviour. Officers have said to me that by saying this interview is being filmed then behaviours change. One example mentioned to me was of an individual who was upset at being stopped and his friend started filming the incident on his camera phone. The officer said good I am filming you as well. I hope to see more of this happening.

There are national initiatives also. The National Procurement Hub will enable forces to make purchases at the best prices. Its management information will allow you to judge value for money. The Hub is not yet fully rolled out, but we are ensuring you can access the latest full year information on procurement spend which has been collected for all forces. I would urge you very strongly to use these tools to the fullest extent.

PCC have played a vital role in driving this transformation – working with Chief Constables to ensure services are delivered more effectively and efficiently to the public.

Progress is encouraging. HMIC’s assessment is that the vast majority of police forces are rising to the challenge of reducing budgets while protecting service to the public.

But everybody in this room understands that 2014 is going to be difficult too.

Central government funding for policing will need to reduce by a fifth over the spending review period. And as the Chancellor indicated earlier this month, further spending cuts will be required after the election. We published our provisional grant report before Christmas and, in line with the usual process, we are consulting on it. We will publish our final report early next month.

Let’s be clear though. The sort of transformation we are talking about here is not about this year’s or next year’s budget settlement. It is not about trimming a little fat and hoping that another era of plenty comes along. It is about fundamentally re-thinking how policing is configured so it is efficient and effective for years to come.

We know this can be done. Because it is being done.

Collaboration, blue light integration and rehabilitation

Collaboration

I am pleased so many of you attended the ‘Innovation through Collaboration’ event at the Home Office last month, which gave you and chief constables an opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences of collaboration and to discuss bidding for the Police Innovation Fund.

There is clearly no one-size-fits all approach with collaboration. Equally there is no reason why some forces should be planning less than 10% of their savings from collaboration. That may well be an opportunity missed.

Collaboration is not just about saving money. It is about providing a more effective service. HMIC are reviewing the extent to which forces are meeting the Strategic Policing Requirement in relation to key national threats such as organised crime. On these and other crime threats forces need to collaborate with each other and with the wider public and private sectors.

Emergency services integration

By enhancing accountability you are driving greater effectiveness and efficiency. If it works for policing, it should work for other emergency services, like the fire service. In finding significant scope for reform, Sir Ken Knight’s independent report was clear that fire services could not, by themselves, achieve the required transformational change. The vast majority of fire and police boundaries are co-terminus and over half of police stations in England are within 1km of a fire station. The two services work closely together in more ways than one.

Emergency services collaborating will deliver efficiencies. In Hampshire, fire, police and the county council are joining up corporate services and expect to save around £4 million a year. In Merseyside a joint police and fire command and control centre is being built.

I know that many of you are exploring integration of police and fire.

I want to see more of this. The government will set out in its response to the Knight Review shortly, but I want to be clear now that we want to work with you to build on what is already happening and to drive this forward by removing barriers and unlocking opportunities.

And I would like collaboration to go further. Working closely with ambulance services will bring real benefits. In London, the Met and London Ambulance have created joint response units which are reducing average waiting times for the police from 36 minutes to just 5 minutes. That may not sound like a lot of time, but it has transformed their operations. In Surrey, there is a programme of collaboration between the police, fire and ambulance. Their collaboration will see the three services join forces to find ways of streamlining operations, sharing more premises and delivering joint safety campaigns. It would be good to see you driving similar joint working across the country.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is another area where reform is urgently needed. For too long there has been a lack of real action on finding sustainable ways to reduce reoffending rates.

It is not good enough that more than 148,000 criminals convicted or cautioned over the last year had at least 15 previous convictions or cautions.

It is not good enough that over half a million offenders had at least one previous conviction or caution.

And it is not good enough that the group of offenders most likely to reoffend – those sentenced to short sentences – are currently ignored by the system and receive no statutory rehabilitation.

That’s nearly 85,000 further crimes committed by a group who walk out of prison with £46 in their pocket, and get little or no support to get their lives back on track and turn away from crime.

That’s why we’re launched the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This will provide more effective rehabilitation at better value to the taxpayer in a way that is sustainable. We want to draw on all the skills and services that can be offered by practitioners across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Opening up the market to a range of new suppliers will see innovative ways of working whilst giving the Department the financial flexibility to extend supervision and support to every former offender.

I know that many of you have concerns about the changes, particularly the implications for the existing key local partnerships and accountability.

To achieve their objective of reducing reoffending, providers will need to work closely with local partners – including yourselves.

I want you to have a strong role in the reforms. I welcome the fact that many of you have actively engaged with the Programme to ensure your priorities are understood. We have listened to the concern, raised by many of you, that for the evaluation of bids to fully reflect key local priorities, it needs to include the views of those who have with the expertise and awareness at a local level.

While there can be no formal role for PCCs or any other stakeholder in the evaluation process, the Programme has developed a proposal to establish a forum through which key local stakeholders with the expertise and awareness of local issues can provide advice to the local competition teams.

The local competition teams will be in touch with all PCCs to discuss arrangements for this proposal and I hope this will make it easier for us to work closely with them to make the reforms as innovative and successful as possible.

Innovation and technology

Innovation Fund

Last year we announced an innovation fund worth up to £50m a year to incentivise collaboration, transformation and innovative delivery to improve effectiveness and efficiency of policing. The fund starts in full from 2014/15. But there was the need and readiness to press ahead now with transformation. So we introduced a £20 million precursor fund in 2013/14.

We received, unsurprisingly, a fantastic response. There were 115 bids, for which I would like to thank you all. I was delighted to be able to announce last week that every police force in England and Wales will receive a share of that £20million. And £3.8 million of that funding will be used by six forces to collaborate on proposals to share buildings and infrastructure with the fire and rescue service, saving millions of pounds of public money in the process. A number of other themes emerging from the bidding process for the innovation fund included:

• six forces who will receive funding to enhance public protection and support by investing in body worn camera technology;

• a 24-force consortium who will move public-facing services such as incident reporting, Freedom of Information requests and impounded vehicle release payments online; and

• nine forces who will be using the funding to roll out use of mobile data equipment so officers can access intelligence, take statements and update crime records without having to return to the station – obviously allows them to spend more time on the streets and in communities rather than sat behind their desks.

We were able to approve 65 of the Innovation Fund bids in this round.

Unfortunately we could not approve them all. In a number of cases there were positive ideas with potential to bring about transformation. But further work was needed to understand and articulate the impact of those changes. I hope you will feel encouraged to build on these bids and re-submit as part of future bidding rounds.

We will be announcing the timetable for bidding to the 2014/15 fund in the very near future. In the meantime, we are conducting a review of the precursor fund. In particular, we are considering where the process, communications and criteria might be strengthened to ensure that the fund prioritises bids that truly reflect innovation and collaboration.

I hope the feedback we have provided will help you prepare your bids for next year.

Innovation through technology

And when you are thinking about your bids, or indeed about future ways of working in general, think about the best ways to use the new technology that is available. You may have indulged in the New Year sales. According to the British Retail Consortium there was a 19% growth in internet purchases from a year earlier, the fastest increase in four years. Clearly this has a lot to do with convenience. And avoiding the bad weather! But it is more than that. This amounts to a change in mindset.

Technology is shifting people’s behaviour and expectations of public services. Policing is responding to this. But are we responding fast enough? The re-launched police.uk website gives the public detailed local crime maps. It is a great tool. But in a world of apps that allow you to book your taxi, find out when your bus is coming and do your banking – all on your mobile, having access to data about crimes in their area on line is perhaps regular rather than remarkable. And if people can’t do relatively basic things like report crime on-line, as is the case with the majority of forces, then it is disappointing. There are exceptions like Sussex which allows the public to report crime online and Avon and Somerset which allows the public to track the progress of reported crimes online. In general, I think we would all admit that more could and should be done

There are good foundations. All forces provide information via their website and Twitter. Nearly all forces (95%) provide information via Facebook; and two-thirds via YouTube. In many forces, the public can contact individual officers or specific neighbourhood teams.

These are good examples. But I do not want to limit our ambitions to doing old things with new tools. We want to harness this potential to bring about transformational change. That is what digital policing is about.

Neighbourhood policing illustrates this challenge. Neighbourhood policing improves public confidence and supports crime reduction, by tackling anti-social behaviour right through to national threats like organised crime. And neighbourhood policing is key to building and maintaining police integrity.

HMIC has previously raised concerns that neighbourhood policing is being put at risk by changes driven by cost-cutting. But more recent findings from the College and HMIC suggests that budget cuts need not lead to a withdrawal from neighbourhood policing. So long as you and senior officers remain committed to supporting innovative approaches to delivery, neighbourhood policing can continue to go from strength to strength – and I know many of you are indeed strongly committed to this. The whole point of the new policing landscape is that the Home Office and the Policing Minister does not tell the police how they should operate. But it can play its part. We are giving PCSOs new powers to enhance their ability to support effective neighbourhood policing, and we have consulted on whether any further powers are needed. If you think there is more we can do I will be interested in hearing from you. In the meantime, HMIC will be looking again at this as part of its next Valuing the Police inspection.

Here too we need to think about technology. For example, how does the traditional neighbourhood policing method serve a generation of young people immersed who are immersed in social networks, whose experience of crime might more likely be on-line than in their physical neighbourhood?

More widely, is policing configured for the 86% of people in the UK who, according to the Office for National Statistics, use the internet, or the 14% who do not?

It is not just the public and the police taking advantage of technology. Of course criminals are too. Which is why we are improving law enforcement capabilities to tackle cyber crime, including through developing cyber skills in mainstream policing.

Embedding a culture of innovation in policing

Innovation is vital. But it must become part of business as usual. As you know, the College is working to improve knowledge about effective crime-fighting interventions by developing networks so forces and academics can collaborate. Many of you will be having conversations with universities about potential new approaches. You should also work with the College to share good practice.

I am also keen for the Home Office to support your emerging thinking on the form and function of a Police ICT Company to support forces to use technology in new ways.

A new contract which the Home Office has just awarded for the provision of Evidence Based Decision Support will also help. This is founded on partnership across industry, SMEs and academia. This enables the right team of IT experts to focus on your specific problems before you make critical decisions to invest significant resources so they can support your forces transformation agenda and ensure it is set-up to succeed.

The concept has been proven at the MoD and in Australia. I am looking forward to seeing what it can do for us.

The team is here today and ready to answer your questions over lunch.

A culture of reform has to encompass police leadership. I very much welcome the APCC’s timely review of ACPO. I look forward to working with you and the College to ensure we have the right police leadership structures to fit in with the new policing landscape.

Challenges: integrity, undercover policing, the Fed review and FNOs

I have set out how reform and innovation are tools to enable us to get on the front foot. But some elements of policing will always be about identifying and responding to challenges. I want to talk about some of them. But my point is that a policing profession that is constantly innovating will be better placed to deal with these challenges that emerge.

Integrity

You will, I am sure, share the Government’s determination to improve police integrity. It lies at the heart of the public’s confidence in policing. I know many of you are anxious about reductions to your budgets to resource the IPCC better. We believe the transfer for 2014/15 is proportionate and necessary to allow the IPCC to build capacity and take on additional cases this year. We are providing the IPCC with up to £800,000 from the Home Office budget in 2013/14 for transition costs and a further £10m in capital in 2014/15. The College of Policing also plays a key role in ensuring that all forces meet the highest level of standards in professional behaviour and is committed to delivering the package of measures announced by the Home Secretary to improve police integrity. One important step of this is.

Undercover policing

The alleged inappropriate behaviour of undercover officers in the past has caused concern. The two investigations into those allegations will report shortly, so I will cannot comment further. But we are working to ensure undercover work is done properly.

We have recently introduced legislation increasing the oversight of undercover deployments by law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement agencies must now notify the Office of the Surveillance Commissioners, all of whom are retired senior judges, of all undercover deployments. We have raised the internal authorisation level from Superintendent to Assistant Chief Constable. Deployments beyond 12 months must now be signed off by the independent Office of the Surveillance Commissioners before being authorised by the Chief Constable.

Given the level of concern, the Home Secretary asked HMIC to conduct a thorough review of all undercover policing units. We will consider any recommendations carefully so we can assure the public that undercover operations, which are vital to public protection, are only used when necessary and do not go beyond the realms of decency. We must make sure the public have trust in this very sensitive but very necessary area of policing.

I should also mention the Fed Review

As you will be aware, the independent review of the Police Federation, by Sir David Normington, published its report yesterday. The review raises some serious issues and we look forward to seeing the Federation’s response. It is important that all organisations have the opportunity to reform their functions and practices and we recognise the important step the Federation has taken in carrying out this review. It is essential that all parts of the policing landscape, including the Federation, have the confidence of the public to act with integrity and impartiality at all times.

One other issue I want to touch on is Foreign national offenders

The level of crime in England and Wales committed by foreign nationals is sizeable and increasing. In 2011/12 the Metropolitan Police arrested over 74,000 foreign national offenders. The scale of the challenge is less well understood outside London. But we are building that evidence for the rest of the country and will share it as soon as we can to help you deal with the problem more effectively.

This is not about picking on people because they are not from the UK. Foreign national offenders are first and foremost criminals. The fact that they are not UK nationals provides us with other options for dealing with them.

For example, from the beginning of this month it has been possible to take action to remove EEA nationals who are not exercising or who are abusing their Treaty rights.

This potentially an important tool but it can only be effective if the police and immigration enforcement work together. We have been providing information to forces on steps the police can take. We will do more in the coming weeks.

Conclusion

There are a huge range of challenges. But just as importantly, we must maximise the opportunities. Overall crime is down to the lowest levels since the Crime Survey for England and Wales started in 1981; victim satisfaction is up and the proportion of officers on the frontline is increasing.

But it’s all our job to ensure crime continues to fall. We want the public to feel protected by a truly 21st century police force. And we want officers to feel they belong to a proud profession.

You PCCs uniquely placed to make sure this happens. That is because you are elected because you best understand the local people’s concerns. You have a responsibility to secure and maintain efficient and effective policing. And you have the opportunity to drive through innovative reforms. I know you are already doing this. I also know it is not going to be easy. You will encounter resistance. But many of you will find willing partners within policing, the Home Office and with policy colleagues.

 


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Posted 2014-01-22 13:29:00