Police commission: Neighbourhood policing under threat


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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 675.

    Also in today's news, another uncharged person mysteriously dies in police custody:


    I actually feel safer with less police officers

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    Spending a whole lot of money putting bobbies on the beat might make people feel safer but it doesn't actually make them safer. far better to spend such resources on activities that produce results. It costs a great deal of money to train and sustain a police officer, and people want them to be walking around the community chatting to locals? Get a grip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    am a police officer with over 26 years service would love to accept redundancy so that i can be replaced by 2 officers younger and fresher than me and much less cynical of the job i use to love glad financial restraints are in place we need some common sense decisions fron pcc's not old fashioned quick wins

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    I don't want policemen wandering about doing nothing not catching criminals. I would much rather somebody said where a criminal was and they went there after them. Given that other areas have been cut to the extent that many sick people now end up homeless and kids without an education I can see no reason why the police should not be cut in preference. Criminals mostly get short sentences and bail

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    A few people suggesting the era of the beat policeman is over all i can say is why is it? It seems the simplest thing in the world to train someone give them a uniform and a beat and off you go. If its money then how is it we have 50bn for a glorified train set but not enough for what I would call the essentials like beat officers. Other countries succeed at this and once again we fail miserably.

  • Comment number 670.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    Community Policing is a vital service to the community and one of the most basic requirement asked of the police when serving the general public. Possibly why most officers join in the first place. A visible presence has helped to lower crime in affected areas, I've seen this first hand having worked with them. Don't forget crime directly or indirectly affects us all. To cut it harshly is crazy!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    Get rid of the useless PCSOs (plastic policemen), cut red tape and employ more properly trained warranted officers.
    Get rid of the Crown Prosecution Service who mess up court cases and take officers of the beat for cases that get cancelled or postponed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    Lots of comments on here from people who really do not understand the pressures facing the police service in 2013. The Dixon of Dock Green era has long since past and the weight of expectation is far greater on every single police officer, the vast majority of whom doing a fabulous job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Police forces nationally are recruiting more Special Constables and volunteers ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Police Ranks For Dummies:

    3 stripes, officer can read AND write

    2 stripes, officer can read OR write

    1 stripe, officer knows somebody who can read or write.

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    Probably scope for money saving eg one uniform design, national procurement, Sharing back office work eg finance, HR. Make better use of IT - smartphones for coppers. Make sure that recruits can write quickly and accurately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    Of course only labour can sort the problem with the Police as they have always been known as the 'Police party'. I'm afraid it's too late for the force, they are a joke now. If it's not wimmin and ethnic minorities suing for a life time lasting pay off it's the fact that the rest can barely solve a crime or prevent one. From personal experience I have no faith in them at all and we pay for it

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    Italian police's reaction to their G7 demos led to top cops prosecuted-even if it took a year.
    London’s G7 police caused an innocent man’s death.
    I’m not into punishments & I have sympathy for the police.
    But nothing was done.
    That doesn’t sit well in UK where law/media treats minor miscreants much more harshly than eg. Italy or Germany.
    We need to feel the police are on our side

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    Because local experience is such that people tell me all the time that calling the police is a waste of time the idea of local policing is risible.

    Time after time I've seen Met pol bat crimes off, not bother to investigate or actually try and make the victims seem to be at fault.

    Local policing? Joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 661.

    I thought computers were supposed to deal with all the nonsense paperwork - let the highly trained, skilled & experienced professionals get on with their job & hire people with good I.T. literacy to record it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 660.

    Considering that the 1st thing the tories did was slash the police force, little wonder there aren't enough coppers to do the job properly. Plus at present Boris has decided the priority is for a police presence at junctions to prevent cyclist deaths. Too much politics, not enough police & this is what you get. Soundbites are meaningless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    Serving Response officer with county force. One of the reasons we don't get out to do 'proper' preventative policing is the sheer volume of dross the public reports as 'crime' and which we're too spineless to say isn't.
    Facebook insults, BBM slanging matches and irrelevant quibbles between ex-partners take up, literally, hours of my working week.
    As for warring neighbours...argh! Get a solicitor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    Rubbish statement. 'Local Policing' went when they invented the Panda Car. The nearest we get now are PCSO's who pretty useless. The Police have even got rid of the power to issue a parking ticket in Kent.

    Crimes are not investigated yet senior Police Officers get bonuses for 'reaching targets'. The whole thing is now a shell of an organisation.

    Undo all changes back to 1975 and it may work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    In reply to JamesStGeorge: would work as a Police Officer, being spat at, assaulted, working 24/7 shifts, missing out on family events, working 3 weekends in 5, doing 10 hour shifts with no break for food, not knowing when you'll finish work and all the rest that Police Officers have to put up with, all for the same pay as a PCSO, which is about £23k per year? I thought not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    The Police have no public support from most males under 55. In a generation what little support they have left will be gone. Thanks to the Internet, we can now see their loathsome intruding bullying behaviour uncensored by traditional media. Propped up by elites, 1000 deaths in custody in 30 years, not a single conviction against them. They only have themselves to blame.


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