Reforming the police force for the challenges of the future

Policing Minister Damian Green Photo:

This afternoon, the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, Damian Green will give his first speech at the annual Police Federation Conference in Bournemouth.

In an article for ITV News, he outlines some of the challenges ahead for policing and reforms that have or at being introduced to tackle them.

This year’s Police Federation conference gives us all the chance to take stock of the changes and improvements that we see in policing.

We are reforming the police force to make sure it is equipped for the challenges of the future.

Our reforms are building a police force more in touch with the people it serves, more transparent in its dealings and more flexible in its outlook.

The reforms are working. All the statistics show crime is falling and falling fast – it has dropped more than 10% since this government came to power.

The key people, the victims of crime, have higher satisfaction levels with the system than they did two years ago.

That, of course, is also due to the skill, professionalism and hard work of the country’s police officers.

I am happy to be able to thank the police for that spectacular success in my first speech to the Police Federation Conference.

But I will also be laying down a challenge to them to improve on what is already a strong position.

The future of policing will be top of the agenda at the Police Federation Conference. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Thanks to our creation of the College of Policing, the Federation will, for the first time ever, have a direct say in the leadership of the police force.

The College will have a vital role in shaping the policing of the future, ensuring the training and professionalism of the police is fit for the challenges of the future and giving every individual officer the best chance of maximising their potential.

The Federation has a seat on the board and it is vital they make full use of it.

The College will work hand in hand with our two other major structural reforms of policing.

The introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners gives a democratic voice to policing for the very first time, while the creation of the National Crime Agency will give the country the weapons it needs to tackle the threat of serious organised crime.

Taken together, our reforms will truly link policing from top to bottom – from the low level street crime and the community beat meeting up to the "Mr Bigs" of crime and international operations.

Damian Green says he wants to maximise the skills of police officers. Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

Of course these structures are only as good as the officers who work within them. The College will ensure they are equipped with the skills to flourish.

But it is my job to ensure they maximise the amount of time available to make use of those skills in fighting crime and don’t waste them doing paperwork.

On coming to power, we scrapped the centralised targets to cut down on bureaucracy and allow officers to use their professional discretion to decide on crime-fighting priorities and respond to community need.

We have also cut back on the paperwork and red tape that keeps officers behind desks and not on the street. We will carry on cutting through the bureaucracy and ensure police have access to modern technology to help focus resources where they are needed most.

I am also working to improve efficiency right across the criminal justice system.

This means using video conferencing to ensure officers don’t spend all day in a courtroom waiting to give evidence in a case that doesn’t go ahead; and using video recording in evidence gathering to speed up the process before it even gets to court.

I know that these have been difficult times for relations between the Government and the Federation.

There are always stresses and strains at a time of change. But our reforms are improving policing for the public and we are determined to maintain that improvement.