Police commission: Neighbourhood policing under threat


Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper: "We understand that resources are pressured"

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Neighbourhood policing is under threat in England and Wales as police "retreat to a discredited reactive approach", a report is to say.

The Independent Police Commission will say that every neighbourhood should have a guaranteed level of policing.

The commission, which will publish its report on Monday, was set up by Labour in 2011 under former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens.

Labour said it would now consult on the report's recommendations.

The commission will say "bobbies on the beat are disappearing and neighbourhood policing must be saved".

It describes the neighbourhood model as the "building block of fair and effective policing".

The report will make 37 recommendations, including:

  • A national procurement strategy to increase the amount of collaboration between forces - to include standardised uniforms
  • Electronic submission of case files to courts and prosecutors
  • Mobile access to intelligence, including the Police National Computer
  • Cybercrime experts to be recruited directly into police forces
  • Restrictions on the use of private companies such as G4S and Serco for policing functions

According to the commission, figures from the House of Commons Library show there were 10,000 fewer front line officers in England and Wales in 2013 than in 2010 - a drop of 8.3%.

'Beating a retreat'

Lord Stevens, the Met Commissioner who introduced neighbourhood policing into London, said every local area should be given a guaranteed level of neighbourhood policing, as well as guaranteed response times when a crime is reported.

A male police officer speaks to a person wearing a hooded jumper with the hood pulled up The commission will say police forces must promote "community wellbeing"

Police should investigate every reported crime, he said, but if this is not possible the victim should be told why.

The "plebgate", Jimmy Savile, and Hillsborough controversies had tarnished the reputation of the police service, he warned.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Lord Stevens warned that officers were "beating a retreat from the beat".

"In the course of our two-year independent commission on the future of policing, we have seen that neighbourhood policing is under threat and the police are at risk of retreating into a discredited reactive model," he wrote.

"The commission is clear that neighbourhood policing is the bedrock on which the service must be built."

Lord Stevens also condemned the government's police reform programme as "confused", "fragmented" and "unfocused".

'Working with communities'

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour had asked Lord Stevens to examine what could be done "without additional resources".

"There is a retreat going on from neighbourhood policing, a retreat from the bobbies on the beat," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme.

She accused her Conservative counterpart Theresa May of seeing policing merely as "crime fighting".

"In fact policing is about prevention of crime, working with communities, respect for law and order and respect for public safety," she said.

The report will call for "a set of national minimum standards of police service which everyone should be entitled to receive" and which police forces "must deliver".

"The neighbourhood remains the key building block of fair and effective policing and it is vital that visible, locally responsive policing is protected in times of fiscal constraint," it will say.

The report will recommend that the law should be changed "to make clear that the purpose of policing is to promote public safety and community wellbeing, thereby preventing crime as well as reacting to crime".

According to the commission, this was achieved in the legislation creating a single national police force for Scotland.

The report will call for stronger links between the police and other organisations, including giving neighbourhoods and councils more say over local police priorities.


Labour announced the review at its 2011 party conference, saying it was time for a "serious vision".

Crossbench peer Lord Stevens stressed the commission, which included police figures, academics and judges, would be non-political.

At the time Nick Herbert, the then policing minister, said Labour's decision to establish an inquiry was "an abdication of any kind of political leadership" and the government had a "coherent package of reforms".

The overall structure of the police service was last examined by a royal commission in 1962.

Lord Stevens was the head of the Metropolitan Police between 2000 and 2005.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    As a serving Officer, I can confidently say that my job 'is no longer what I signed up for'.

    Masses of paperwork and red tape, when all I want is to 'walk the beat' providing a service to the public.

    Wether it be the Tories or Labour, Lib-dem or the Greens, unless we really start to look at ourselves we are not progressing in any direction, making it harder for underfunded Police Forces.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    Maybe some of these mis-guided politicians should live in areas where youths roam out of control making people's lives a misery, where crime is a constant cause for concern, where the local authorities are grossly incompetent at dealing with those who continually break the law in the various ways witnessed in a lot of town centres, rural areas etc. Easy target yet again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 453.

    It's unfair to blame the police for the current situation. The fact is that the police are the organisation of last resort, and end up dealing with many incidents which are the responsibility of others who will not/cannot provide a 24/7 service.
    Putting officers on foot patrol resticts their availability to deal with incidents.
    Blame the politicians who have cut the resources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 452.

    Align political control of the police, via police commissioners, with the increased use of tasers, plus personal video cameras by police patrols and recognise significant moves away from 'policing by consent' to something very, very different. Community based policing is severely under threat. Police Officers swear an oath of allegiance to 'Queen and Country', not to Parliament or politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 451.

    Also to all the people bleating about being able to leave your iPod in full view in a car. People like you are actually the biggest waste of police resources imaginable. Takes less than two seconds to put it in the glove box, right?

  • Comment number 450.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    There should be a country-wide response from all police staff to see what they all really need, what works, what doesn't.

    You need to know what the beat on the street actually wants and once you know you need to give them what they need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    As the Tories deliberately run down public services and starve them off funds in order to introduce their ideological privatization, Labour are left in no mans land. The frightening thing is that there are enough Tory voters who really do believe that you can get more for less. They don't live in crime ridden cesspits of course.. all they care about is they they pay a few quid less tax each week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    No such thing as local policing, but there are a few paid stooges walking the streets when they could be investigating REPORTED crime.

    A couple of uniformed police/community officers walking a street, do not stop crime 5/10/15 streets away, nor are they able to attend quickly, unless they wear roller shoes.

    Biggest waste of money, evident by abuse of reporting crime statistics

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    The "police" are out of control. If they cant get someone through legal means then they use illegal means eg the murder of Ian Tomlinson and Menezes

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    "retreat to a discredited reactive approach"
    - or NON (usefully) reactive as is more likely - unless it is an opportunity to play (sorry, "deploy") with their Tasers and guns.
    Then there will be >140 (armed + others not armed) of them to deal with a single person and shotgun alone out in an open space - apparently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    Some frineds of mine recently couldn't get the local force to attend to a drink driver who was weaving all over the road as there were not enough resources, apparently, so this latest report isn't really a shock.
    Mention a racial issue though and Plod will be there like a shot in order to fulfill some quota or other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.

    WHY anyone would want to be a cop in the UK is beyond me. I have just returned from a visit (home) and watched some of the police shows on tv. What a joke! The police have ZERO control. They act like they have given up caring about their job. Then I witnessed a live show at 2 am. 15 drunken scum (inc. 6 vile females) surround 2 cops. The only weapons on display were beer bottles! The cops? ZERO!

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    If this problem isn't addressed soon you won't see uniformed Police Officers on foot patrol at within 5yrs. And I mean Police Officers not PTCSO's. Officers will report for duty and be given a list of target offenders to arrest that day and street policing will be performed by PTCSO's. I speak as a recently retired officer who has seen a decline brought about by interfering politicians

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    There is universal demand to get police officers back on the beat in all towns and villages, where they can be visible and prevent crime instead of chasing it. For too long, it has been convenient to race around in cars, sirens blaring, achieving very little and distancing officers from the public they are supposed to serve.

    No wonder crime rates were lower before Panda cars were introduced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 440.

    The only thing that will save community policing is educating police officers that not everyone they come across in the course of their duties is a criminal. A bit of civility and good manners goes a long way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    Local policing, what a sad joke !!

    Out here in the rural countryside we are more likely to see the second coming than a policeman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Community policing only works when they actually have a community to police. Don't be afraid to make friends with your neighbours and take a responsibility for your own neighbourhood. What about a scheme promoting neighbourhood watch initiatives? With social media, it should be a relativitely cheap endeavour

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    Lord Stevens has done a valuable job in raising this discussion. The steering of British Policing by this Government towards a North American model with 'outsourcing' to business is a poorly researched and understood policy which is doing great harm. I hope that this debate now leads to a recognition of the need for a Royal Commission. Policing is too important to be a political football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Clearly people don't want local police because they don't want a large state - or so the right-whingers in the press keep telling them. I think in the next decade we'll see more and more private firms policing affluent neighbourhoods and the rest of us will get stabbed in the street for trying to intervene. But at least the rich will have low taxes.


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