Thursday, April 19, 2007

Policy Review? Hurrah!

Reading through Constabulary Magazine the other day, one of the eponymous job publications that somehow turn up every so often in the nick.
Their headline news is the upcoming new strategy and review for the police announced by the government.
The federation are bit annoyed about not being told about this. Enter Jan Berry, chair of the Police Federation:

"If the aim of this review is to work with the Police Service to develop a shared vision, it doesn’t bode well that as the organisation representing 140,000 police officers throughout England and Wales that we heard about it through the media this morning.
We have been calling for an independent review of policing for the last seven years and noone has been listening. We’ve had five years of piecemeal reform of different parts of policing – none of which have brought any clarity. To announce yet another review will just add to the confusion that already exists"

I liked this bit, still Jan Berry.

"Broken promises to reduce bureaucracy, indecent focus on the quantity of detections rather than the quality of service, poor IT structures and the loss of officers’ discretion to act independently, have fundamentally damaged the trust between the public and the police and the police and the Government."

Compare this with the optimistic title of the governmnents review: "Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice"........

As I read on, I find myself reading Ken Jones, who for those who might like to know is President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (banner headline on website: THE VOICE OF THE SERVICE). You'd have thought that he might've taken a similar line to the Police Federation: who do after all represent most of us old bill in the country. But what's this?

"We welcome this policing review to which we have submitted ideas and highlighted challenges. Whilst we wait to see the detail, we are determined to continue to do all we can to reduce bureaucracy, build on neighbourhood policing and make the best use of our resources"

There's a bit of buttering up of the government now, in almost laughable senior police management-pep-speech:

"Neighbourhood policing has made massive progress inembedding local teams in communities. We have seen public confidence levels in policing rise, and we want to improve our partnership working to ensure that we have the support and commitment of all agencies"

Ah here's why the big fat compliment to the Government Neighbourhood Policing initiative! There's a tiny tiny hint of dissent against the goverment, but only a smidgen:

"We can do even more if there was less bureaucracy and fewer targets. If the review is able to ease these pressures ‘space’ will be made for us to customise what we deliver according to what people need in their neighbourhoods"

But to round off, a couple of sentences again in suitably appropriate upper-management police speak:

"We police with the consent of the people. We are always looking for ways to be more accessible and accountable but we need to make sure that the chain of accountability from street-level policing through to police chiefs, and authorities, is not broken"

Flippin eck.

Police federation (and most police bloggers say):- Government: You're crap, and have made our life more difficult, and we feel the public are more frustrated and less trusting of us than ever before. The 95% of us not on The Latest Greatest Thing (i.e. PCSOs or safer neighbourhoods) and have to deal with the dross, dirt and despair that goes on outside the community panel meetings and reassuarance patrols- like kids in police protection, domestics, mental health problems in the community, suicides, sudden deaths, missing persons, people hit by trains (check this link- how terrible is her story??? Come on, humanity!), boozed fuelled violence, rape, messy RTA's (shall I go on?)-are fed up, under resourced and demoralised.

ACPO President says: Neighbourhood policing is great, well done Government, brilliant idea. Review? Brilliant. You can tell us again that Neighbourhood policing is great. (Tiny voice:) a little less obsession with target culture for the 95% of officers not on neighbourhood teams would be nice too. PS did I say Neighbourhood policing was brilliant?

Read Ken Jones's response in full, you decide if I've quoted him fairly or not.
Read the "Building on Progress" review, if you can be bothered with its 104 pages. I read the first paragraph by some politician called Tony which said "We have been tough on crime and the causes of crime", at which point I gave it up as a useless exercise remembering this article by a certain Inspector.

I don't know why, but I'm looking forward to the comments on this one.