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Police Chiefs' Blog: Sara Thornton, Chief Constables Council July 2015

31 Jul 2015

Chief Constables' Council (CCC) is the main decision making forum of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC). It allows chiefs to regularly come together, discuss and debate the issues facing policing and make decisions about how they will operate to meet the demands of the day.  This blog aims to open up CCC to those interested in our work and policing in general. 

Counter-terrorism

NPCC Lead for Counter-terrorism (CT) Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley and Senior National Coordinator for CT Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball briefed chiefs on the level of the terrorist threat and the police response.  The intelligence gathered and action taken by police, often neighbourhood police officers, has been crucial in disrupting potential attacks in recent years.

AC Rowley explained he will be working with the CT network to help inform Government of the challenge for policing from the fast changing threat in order to assist them in making decisions in the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review.  Chiefs agreed the central challenge for forces was maintaining the ability of neighburhood policing to continue to contribute when forces face expected budget cuts of between 25-40 per cent.

DAC Ball said that one out of six people arrested in relation to terrorism in the last year were under the age of 20. Chiefs agreed that a wide range of organisations need to play their part in preventing radicalisation as set out in the recently introduced "Prevent" duty on public services.  Police must be just one part of the collective challenge against the dangerous ideaology of violent extremism.  Police officers have a critical role but are not always the right people to lead safeguarding interventions or or school programmes.

Austerity

We've dealt with cuts of 25 per cent in Government grant in the last five years and are set for similar following the Comprehensive Spending Review in the Autumn.  We’re likely to have lost around 70,000 police posts by 2020.  I am clear that if we don't make fundamental changes to policing we will fail in our service to the public and unacceptably stress our staff. 

In response to a report by the National Police Debate Advisory Group published in June, chiefs agreed five key principles about policing now and in the future, as well as some thinking about how we deliver those with much less money and changing demand.  There's a focus on visible police patrols being much more carefully targeted, sharing more within policing and outside and prevention of harm - ensuring it is done with other agencies rather than just by police. Based on our discussions, we agreed to develop a medium term vision for how policing needs to transform and work with other parts of the public sector.  We will also work with the College of Policing and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that change programmes are coordinated.

Our people

Chair of the Hampshire Police Federation John Apter, supported by Chief Constable Andy Marsh, presented work in Hampshire to improve how the force responds to assaults on officers and staff. John showed us a video of Hampshire PC Kerry Lawrence being horrifically assaulted by a man she had just arrested. I challenge anybody watching that video to say that what Kerry experienced is just part and parcel of the job. Our employees deserve the same care and justice as anybody else when they are a victim of crime.  Chiefs from across the country said they would go away and consider how they work with their police federations to address the issue in their force, building on John and Andy's Seven Point Plan.

Chiefs supported NPCC Lead for Workforce, Chief Constable Giles York setting up a new leadership portfolio within his committee to help progress the recommendations in the College of Policing’s Leadership Review.  There was unanimous support for the review and backing for the principle that every effort should be made to take all of the recommendations together in order to achieve its full potential.

Sexual abuse

I invited a victim of sexual exploitation to talk to us about her experience of the police ten years ago.  She told us officers did not show enough care, compassion or curiosity.  She said if the police officers she came into contact with had "shown some kindness and respect I might have opened up to them."  A valuable reminder to everyone in the room of what victims of abuse need from police and the damage caused when we get it wrong.

NPCC Lead for Child Protection, CC Simon Bailey explained that a better multi-agency approach and more education at an early age was needed because once a child reports abuse to us it is too late to protect them.  He said that the service must continue to change its focus from targets to protecting the vulnerable based on an assessment of threat, risk and harm; chiefs’ challenge is to ensure that every member of the service recognises that this is their responsibility.

Chiefs supported the first draft of our annual delivery plan, which outlines the priority pieces of work for the NPCC in the coming year.  It covers terrorism, child sexual exploitation, cyber crime and serious organised crime and we are in the process of finalising it for publication.

Notes to readers

We will blog about the discussions and decisions at CCC after each meeting.

Of course, there are some parts of the discussions at CCC that cannot made by public at the time of writing because relate to information that has been classified as restricted or secret.

The minutes of this meeting will be published at a later date.

If you have any questions about anything in this blog or any feedback, please get in touch.  Because of the nature of the meeting and what is discussed, there may be some information requests that we cannot meet.  We will always try to answer your questions as fully as we can.