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Policing in the 21st Century

Volume 519: debated on Wednesday 1 December 2010

Today, alongside the publication of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, we are publishing the Government’s response to the “Policing in the 21st Century” consultation, which set out the most radical reforms to policing in at least 50 years, putting the public at the heart of policing.

Directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners are central to our proposals to replace bureaucratic accountability with democratic accountability. The Government are confident that Police and Crime Commissioners will make forces truly accountable to the communities they serve, ensuring that resources are properly targeted to where they are needed and giving the public a greater say in measures to reduce crime and improve community safety.

We are also clear that the long held principle of operational independence, where those operating in the office of the constable are able to make independent decisions on how to use their legitimate coercive powers on behalf of the state will continue to remain the cornerstone of the British policing model.

We received approximately 900 responses to the consultation and we are grateful to all those who responded. The response document we are publishing today summarises the views that we received and sets out next steps in implementing our reforms, which include:

replacing existing police authorities with directly elected Police and Crime

Commissioners (PCCs), who will hold forces to account and strengthen the bond between the police and the public;

new police and crime panels to provide important scrutiny of PCC functions, with membership including both top-tier and district councils—giving district councils formal involvement in the governance of policing for the first time;

a framework of checks and balances to scrutinise PCCs and a more independent Inspectorate of Constabulary;

strengthening professional discretion, cutting bureaucracy and freeing up police officers’ time;

greater collaboration between police forces to increase public protection and save money; and

phasing out the National Policing Improvement Agency and creating a powerful new National Crime Agency to lead the fight against organised crime and strengthen our border security. This will be supported by a clearer framework for local PCCs and their forces, set out in a new strategic policing requirement (in response to some of the feedback we received during the consultation).

We have listened closely to what people have had to say and our final proposals take this in to account. For example, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill that we are also publishing today provides more detail on the powers and duties that PCCs and police and crime panels will have and how PCCs will work with their force and other local providers.

The full Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill is published on the Parliament website. The Government response to the “Policing in the 21st Century” consultation will be available on the Home Office website and will be placed in the House Libraries.