According to a new proposal, the next prime minister should replace the College of Policing and mandate an independent review of police initial training amid falling public confidence.
The think tank Policy Exchange conceded in its proposal that the new prime minister “will face a policing service that has gone astray over the last decade”.
The newspaper’s author, ex-Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector David Spencer, made 11 recommendations that he said would help the government “ensure the safety of its citizens from those who would commit crime and disorder”.
The College of Policing, which had an annual budget of £71m in 2020/21, was established in December 2012 as the professional body for policing in England and Wales, with campuses in County Durham, Coventry, Harrogate and London.
“However, from its own ‘Fundamental Review’, it appears that the College of Policing has become synonymous for many within policing with a reduction in standards, along with a perceived lack of real relevance to crime and disorder prevention,” said Mr Spencer wrote.
The former detective noted that there was a “lack of synergy” between the standards set by the college and the “inspection regime” of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
“Having two separate organizations, potentially setting and testing different standards, is totally unsustainable and risks creating significant policing inefficiencies and confusion for both the public and police officers themselves. That needs to be resolved,” Mr Spencer said.
“Given its disastrous reputation in policing, its failure over the past decade to implement both substantive and effective staff reform, and the desire to simplify and make standard setting and review more efficient, the College of Policing should be replaced . ”
Mr Spencer said the college’s role in setting standards should be transferred to HMICFRS and a national police leadership academy “for the effective training and development of police leaders across the country” should be established.
The paper also recommended that the next resident of Commission No 10 carry out an independently led review of police initial training in England and Wales to report within three months.
Mr Spencer observed: “Unlike many professions, the most difficult and important decisions in policing are often made by the youngest people.”
He said the initial training of officers has changed significantly in recent years due to the college’s introduction of the Police Training Qualifications Framework (PEQF) in 2016.
“During its development and since its inception, the PEQF has been the subject of controversy,” Spencer wrote.
“Because of its potential impact on frontline policing, in an unprecedented move, the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police requested a judicial review of the PEQF to delay implementation of the framework. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it is noteworthy that a Chief Constable even attempted to take such action against the College of Policing.”
Executives at various levels of the police force said the PEQF means officers are unable to meet the standards needed to effectively serve the public, there are fewer officers on duty, more officers are resigning and the cost of the Public opinion has increased, he added.
Mr Spencer also recommended changing the rules so police chiefs could decide to fire officers found guilty of crime or serious misconduct, ending so-called “closed shop” policing promotions and using app-based technology in community more to involve the public in “police tactics and decision-making.”
A number of changes, to be led by the Home Office, were also proposed, including simplifying the department’s counting rules to reduce the administrative burden on police forces, reviewing the time officers spend dealing with people with mental illness, unrelated to crime or disorder, and providing the “necessary tools” for police protests and other public events.
The Home Office should also reorganize the response to the fraud epidemic and “size a new corps” of data scientists and hackers to be recruited for police to fight online crime, the former official said.
“While the government recognizes that the current economic climate and cost-of-living crisis is making it difficult to make significant investments in public services, it is the only way to fulfill one of its fundamental duties – the safety of its citizens from those who would commit crime and disorder,” said Mr. Spencer.
The recommendations follow a proposal put forward earlier this year by the Police Foundation think tank that all officers would be subjected to fitness and exercise tests throughout their careers.
But the Police Association of England and Wales, which represents ordinary officers, said in March it was “against” the idea of having GP-style licenses for officers.
Before publishing this proposal, its author Sir Michael Barber admitted that the public’s loss of confidence in the police was a “serious problem” caused by a spate of recent scandals and serious incidents, including the murder of Sarah Everard by an incumbent Met officer.
Voting for the next prime minister ends on Friday, with a winner announced on Monday and new cabinet appointments, including the home secretary, likely to follow at a later date.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/college-of-policing-policy-exchange-government-think-tank-police-b2156234.html New PM ‘must replace College of Policing and arrange training review’