Labour setting up independent police review commission

Police officer and police community support officer Police forces are facing a 20% cut in their budgets over next four years

Labour is setting up its own independent review of policing in England and Wales, the shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has said.

Ms Cooper told a fringe meeting at the party's conference in Liverpool that the government's attempts at reform were "piecemeal" and "cackhanded".

She said a "serious, heavyweight review" of the challenges facing the police in 21st Century was now needed.

Labour will set up the review but it would be independent, she stressed.

Derek Barnett, president of the Superintendents Association, said he "fully supported" the idea of a review.

"We've discussed and called for it for 10 years," he said. "Never has it been more important to have a review. We will support it and the service will support it."

Paul McKeevor, head of the Police Federation, said it was "a very good idea".

Pre-election

Ms Cooper told the meeting on Tuesday that a commission was needed to look at how the police could better cope with the challenges of the 21st Century.

She said there was no fixed timetable in place yet, but more details would be revealed shortly.

Start Quote

We are looking for a sense of strategic direction”

End Quote Derek Barnett Superintendents Association

"We will need to work with the team we want to do the review on what is the best timetable, but obviously we want clear things in place that we have a chance to respond to in time for a general election, in time for the next manifesto.

"We see this, however, as being an independent review not a Labour Party review. We will set it up and we want it to do great work, and we will then need to respond to its work.

"I think that will be the power of it, if all policing organisations - not just the policing organisations who are here today - can actually work with that review as a serious piece of work."

The last royal commission into policing was carried out in 1962.

Those in favour of having another argue that the nature of crime - not least the role of technology and the internationalisation of criminal networks - means a root and branch review of policing in essential.

'Change the narrative'

Police forces are facing a 20% cut in their budgets over the next four years as part of a wider squeeze on public spending.

Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the fringe meeting that forces were doing their best to minimise the impact on frontline services, but "by years three and four of this spending period that borders on the impossible".

"Nobody has been able to tell me what we stop doing," he added.

Mr Barnett said he wanted to make "a plea to the government to consider changing the narrative" - away from forcing police to make changes toward a more collaborative effort at reform.

"At the moment we have the pieces of the jigsaw, but we don't actually have the picture on the box," he said.

"We are looking for a sense of strategic direction - what is the vision the government has?"

Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed suggestions that following the recent riots the government should rethink the cuts.

He told a Commons committee they were "totally achievable without any reduction in visible policing".

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