Theresa May: Getting police back on the streets?

Photo of Theresa May, opening a church fete in...
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A year on from the Home Secretary‘s first in post speech, where she promised the police “more freedom” to do their work, are we actually seeing tangible change yet?

Well I have to say, irrespective of party political preferences (of which I have non), it would appear the framework for change is finally being put into place, all be it slowly. However, the sunshine depicted in Theresa’s photograph (left) is only indicative of a ‘spring clean’, thus far.

The image that I’ve used is an old one (2007) but that was intentional. It illustrates the age-old predicament faced by the police service (and many other public sector agencies) in that; just because a politician speaks today, it doesn’t necessarily mean what they spoke about will actually come to fruition any time soon! The reality of any progress in the substantial change that the service actually requires is (as ever), is totally reliant upon the actions and whims of Chief Police Officers.

Theresa May: Getting police back on the streets“But let me make clear, individual forces must not respond to this valuable work by re-inventing 43 versions of the national guidance that has been scrapped – we are not removing these burdens only for them to be reintroduced at local level.” (See full speech)

Less than 24hrs since Theresa made her speech, much has already been said about its content. Indeed, as often happens these days, social media networks had it fully dissected and analysed within a few hours of it being delivered. Pundits, plaudits and self-appointed expert opinion abounds and as usual, a lot of it comes from those who have little or no actual first-hand knowledge or realtime experience of the policing role. That said, as UK policing is the property of the people I suppose all are entitled to their opinion about what they want from it.

Like many others, I have to say I’ll believe the changes when (and if) I actually see them. One such example of like-minded people (see below), who also have the first-hand knowledge and experience posted in his blog… It’s Official –  Police Chiefs are to blame for bureaucracy in the service

The Thin Blue Line: It is the Chief Officers who must accept responsibility for the mess the service is in and Theresa May is handing them the means to put some of it right. Will they respond or defy her as so many have done already by clinging on to the pledge and performance targets as if they were the very source of life (which for many Chiefs, in receipt of thousands of pounds in performance related bonuses for many years, it was!).

Can we expect to see the rot removed from the recorded crime and detection process? We think that particular nut will prove harder to crack with so many Chief Officers out to protect themselves first and foremost.

That is the culture that must be reversed if real reform is to be delivered. Attention to all ACPO and Chief Officers that might read these pages. YOU must demonstrate loyalty to the troops above all else. These are the people that keep you in work, they deserve better than the disgraceful conduct and betrayals they have endured at your hands. You have many bridges to rebuild, start now before it’s too late.

On his Twitter account yesterday Inspector Simon Guilfoyle (West Midlands Police) commenting on the speech said; “Police to be able to charge in 80% of cases? About time. Sir Ronnie Flanagan recommended this in 2008.”

I agree however with no  disrespect to Simon, what a lot of officers with more limited recent service often fail to realise is; much of the change that continually impacts upon the service is little more than wheel reinvention, often due to political and/or personal reasons.

And, as the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) subsequently pointed out, adding their expected comments on the speech (see here); “the CPS only took over charging decisions in the most serious, sensitive and complex cases as late as 2006 however, police always retained around 67% of all charging decisions.” Indeed, any officer who served prior to the implementation of the CPS will know, the police actually used to be more or less the sole decision makers in the process. That said, it is a little difficult to fully accept the government’s estimate of projected time savings in police hours?

This particular ‘new wheel’ is however to be commended and, once the other three wheels of the failing old crock of British policing are fitted to the vehicle, perhaps we will actually see some of that tangible change for the better…

Note to self: holding your breath whilst waiting may result in asphyxia! 😉

2 thoughts on “Theresa May: Getting police back on the streets?

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