Law and Order

There is a clear preference expressed by the citizens for higher visibility of police officers on foot. Chief Constables should be reminded that policing is a community service that should reflect the needs and wishes of the public that it serves.

Too much of modern policing has been compartmentalised with police officers receiving inadequate training, often lacking the thorough grounding in criminal law received by previous generations. This has been tolerated by successive Home Secretaries to the point that the circle is now squared with supervisory officers similarly lacking in a detailed understanding of the law. Compartmentalised processes may be convenient for performance monitoring but they fail to provide the kind of holistic police service required to maximise efficiency.

The success of Police and Community Support Officers varies considerably across the UK. Whilst they can be a useful community resource, PCSOs must not be used as 'in-fill' where a police constable is required. Often budgetary constraints are cited as the reasons why a 'beat copper' can't be provided. The reality is that too many chief police officers lack the organisational management skills to run a complex modern organisation. Generally, highly expensive back office services like IT are in a poor state with little or no recognition of the available savings. Dealing with back office inefficiencies is the key to reassigning resource to the frontline. 

British Independents recognises the need for a specialist national support team to assist chief police officers in transforming their forces independently from the predatory grasp of private sector suppliers. The current Police ICT Company is a start but it must not be used as a backdoor for privatisation. The remit of any national team should be widened to incorporate strategic business transformation, not just information technology.

British Independents is in favour of maintaining Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) but they must be made more directly accountable to the public. Specifically, all PCCs should bring the police complaints process within their offices.

Corruption and malpractice is endemic within British public services. British Independents will bring all public service regulators and ombudsmen under the roof of a Public Investigations Bureau (PIB). The PIB will allow regulators to work across services and would extend its powers to include its own criminal investigation of public bodies. So, for example, the Local Government Ombudsman and the IPCC would be departments of the PIB, with an ability to escalate to criminal investigations across constabularies and councils. In support of this strategy, the offence of misconduct in public office would be strengthened to allow criminal prosecution of any public servant who knowingly allowed harm to be caused to a member of the public.

More generally, British Independents perceives a general breakdown in discipline and order in many communities. We will bring antisocial behaviour back into the police's domain by revising public order legislation whilst insisting on a zero-tolerance policy towards the drunken louts that blight many of our towns and cities.

More in this category: « Education Local Government »

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