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Police Chiefs' Blog: CC Sara Thornton - Chief Constables' Council October 2016

24 Oct 2016

Chiefs gathered together in London in October for our quarterly council meeting.  Our focus was police reform and we considered some really important issues to the future of policing. 

We started by looking at the very full report on specialist capabilities, which we’ve been working on for ten months.  It set out the rationale for more sharing, cooperation and integration in our specialist services like armed policing, surveillance, major investigation and roads policing.

It made three recommendations.  The most important was that we adopt an approach of networked policing to specialist capbailities, sharing much more between all forces.  In our current model, forces can sometimes be quite siloed dealing with threats to public safety individually, even though their neighbours are dealing with the same issues.  If we tackle those threats as a network, with leaders responsible for improving those capabilities supported by good data and the best research and development, our response will be more effective with the costs shared fairly, providing best value for money for the taxpayer.  The second recommendation was to agree that we would use the report’s findings to make specific changes to improve individual capabilities.  All 43 forces will receive a report at the end of October recommending where they might be able to share and cluster capabilities to make them more effective and efficient.  Chiefs and PCCs will then decide where they would like to do more jointly, so that might be in surveillance teams, automatic number plate recognition systems or some of the capabilities that support major crime investigations.  The final recommendation was for chiefs and PCCs to support the work continuing; we want to look at cybercrime, intelligence and proactive invetsigations next.  There was plenty of discussion and debate but support for all three recommedations.  PCCs will make their decisions at their general meeting.

We also spent some time looking at improving digital policing, particularly the join up between police and the Crown Prosecution Service and the Courts Service so we can share digital evidence quickly and securely.  Chiefs agreed that we wanted to collectively store digital evidence in a cloud-based solution rather than each force storing it individually and we will discuss this position with the Home Office and PCCs.

Alex Marshall gave an overview of all the work that the College of Policing are doing to support and develop our officers and staff, particularly around the Police Education Qualifications Framework, which aims to recognise and raise educational standards in policing.  Chiefs noted all the progress and were particularly interested in the apprentice levy, how we can recruit higher level apprentices and build good links with colleges and universities.

There was an acknowledgement that, while most local policing should remain local, we do need to be much more organised about considering what areas could benefit from national coordination working with PCCs.

An important development over the last six months is a review of the technlogy landscape in policing - we  were given an overview of the totality of the work and links and dependencies with other programmes.

We invited the Police Minister for the first time. Chiefs were impressed that Brandon Lewis MP spent over 40 minutes answering their questions on police reform, foreign national offenders, bail and Brexit with openess and honesty.

We asked Julia Mulligan , Police and Crime Commisisoner for North Yorkshire and Chair of the Police Reform and Transformation Board, to come and talk to us.  She talked about the work of reform board, how we ensure we get governance right and how we develop the strategy to make the changes we've agreed happen.

We are committed to playing our part in eradicating  the trafficking ad exploitation of people for profit and the Prime Minister has made it clear that modern slavery is a priority for her Government.  Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer who leads on modern slavery for the NPCC talked to colleagues about what more we need to do , working with the National Crime Agency, to improve our response..  We will discuss this again in January to ensure that progress is being made on this critcial issue.