12 Sep 2007

Ronnie Reports...

BBC News 12th Sep 2007: Police officers in England and Wales are bogged down in red tape and afraid to use their own judgement, the chief inspector of constabulary has said. That’s nothing new; police officers have been saying this for ages! However, today the Home Office published Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s ‘interim report’ on police reform so what’s actually in his review? Here are some of the key recommendations and my initial comments following on from my previous post. I intend to examine the document more fully at some later point…

On initial read, it is refreshing to see that Sir Ronnie has the same viewpoint about policing as I and many others. He starts his report by saying; “Despite the much-changing context of policing in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the fundamental values of the police service, as encapsulated in the nine principles based on the General instructions issued to every member of the Metropolitan Police at the time of its foundation in 1829, remain in my view valid to this day”.

Alf says: What a refreshing change! However, it would be very worrying if someone who has devoted such a large proportion of his life to ‘the job’ did not think in that way.

He (Sir Ronnie) commenced his report with that age old chestnut of ‘Reducing Unnecessary Bureaucracy’. In Para 1.15 he talks about the matter of crime recording and what we actually record as a ‘crime’; I am conscious that even in the very recent past this area can quickly become a matter for party political debate which I feel can be unhelpful to operational policing.

Alf says; Exactly, take politics out of policing once and for all.

Recommendation 4: There should be a non-party political but truly cross party debate to inform a revision of recorded crime statistics, particularly in the areas currently designated as violent crime. In this context, a closer examination of why international police colleagues do not record anything like the level of activity as ‘violent crime’ will be critical.

Alf says: Paperwork, the blight of the service!

Recommendation 5: ACPO should work with the NPIA to produce mandatory standard forms based on the minimum appropriate reporting requirements. This work should be completed by summer 2008 and forces should adopt them unless there are compelling local reasons for variation.

Alf Says; Also to be commended however, if the government and ACPO actually comply, this will mean another set of bloody forms we have to get acquainted and proficient with, in double quick time!

Part of Recommendation 8 when looking at ‘Activity Based Costing’ etc. states; the NPIA should carry out an investigation of the suitability of Airwave to gather information on officers’ daily activities by summer 2008.

Alf says: I’m no ludite as some would expect and, I’m all for using technology to assist in the data gathering processes however, we have to be confident that technology will present ‘accurate’ data. With all the recent concerns about Airwave functionality, are we sure this will deliver what we want?

Para 2.3 of the report discusses the issues around ‘the unrelenting’ focus on mainstreaming Neighbourhood Policing. But it goes on to say ‘Neighbourhood Policing does not, cannot and must not operate in isolation from the rest of the police family’.

Alf says: I think any ‘practitioner’ who has been in policing for some time fully understands the fundamental values of Neighbourhood Policing. What we all struggle to understand is how response teams have been marginalised, under funded and undervalued at the expense of NPT? Policing in the UK was always about those principles which the NPT methodology has adopted. The problems have been failing to realise that there will always be an associated real time ‘crisis management’ urgency of function within the police service. Sir Ronnie sums it up by saying; “simply, one cannot exist without the other”. And, they must have equality in funding; you only get what you pay for!

Recommendation 18 talks about the Home Office and NPIA etc looking for a ‘Single National Indicator Set’ that can be applied to measure ‘confidence and satisfaction that are applicable to Neighbourhood Policing’.

Alf says: Right on… If we are to be scrutinised and judged so relentlessly, all aspects of the job and those performing it must be subject to Key Performance Indicators!

Recommendation 21 says that ‘Chief Constables should strive to ensure that those appointed to head BCUs, and appointed to other posts within and integral to Neighbourhood Policing, should as far as possible remain in post for at least two years’.

Alf says: For far too long the service has suffered from (and even rewarded) those who move from post to post willy nilly. Let’s finally get away from the mentality that supports the ‘job tarts’ that flit from one post to another for an extra notch on the CV. Or, seeks to castigate those who are happy (and performing well) in a particular roll. Not everyone wants promotion!

Recommendation 22: NPIA’s Neighbourhood Policing Programme should investigate the feasibility of giving greater recognition to officers and staff who remain on neighbourhood Policing teams for a lengthy period of time.

Alf says: See last comment.

Recommendation 26: The NPIA should research the feasibility of a volunteer PCSO scheme and report on its findings by Summer 2008.

Alf says: Bugger, more PCSOs! No, on a serious note that’s fine but let’s have some standardisation of their roll, their powers and the way they are dressed. Let’s stop conning the public into thinking they are actually ‘Police Officers’… They are not and never will be! This wasn’t the intention and should never be. The PCSO has a valuable part to play in today’s policing service but let’s do it honestly!

Perhaps we are going to see some beneficial change for once?

1 comment:

Alf Ventress said...

Read the Police Federation response to Sir Ronnie's report at http://www.polfed.org/Fed_resp_Sir_Flanagan_Review_Policing.pdf

Policing - Could you?