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Volume 715: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing a White Paper on policing today, copies of which are available in the Vote Office. Protecting the Public: Supporting the Police to Succeed builds on the radical reform programme set out in the Green Paper published last year by my predecessor. The Green Paper put the public’s priorities at the heart of policing, replacing top-down targets with a sharp focus on public confidence.

Significant and continuing investment in police numbers, technology and training; the growing impact of neighbourhood policing; the greater responsiveness symbolised by the new policing pledge; more effective collaboration between forces and with partners on everything from anti-social behaviour to serious organised crime and counterterrorism; clearer leadership, less bureaucracy and more front-line discretion: these changes are all creating a golden opportunity for the police and the public. The police service has worked with the Government to lock in the significant falls in crime over the past decade; and we are beginning to see the improvements in public confidence that were such an important element of the Green Paper vision. The service is now well placed to meet the challenges ahead.

The White Paper addresses four specific issues.

First, it sets out the specific action we are taking to ensure that anti-social behaviour is tackled, not tolerated. We will ensure that the police and their local partners work together effectively, with the right tools and information, to place greater emphasis on prevention and support for victims.

Second, it commits police forces and police authorities to ensuring that the public know their entitlement to clear standards of service, how to make their voice heard and shape local policing priorities, with timely local information on performance they need to judge progress. Police authorities have an important role to play and I am very grateful to my right honourable friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside for his recent report on how police authorities could increase their public impact and strengthen their links with local councils, without the risks structural upheaval would bring. The White Paper’s proposals have benefited greatly from his contribution.

Third, the White Paper addresses the challenging financial climate in the years ahead, which demands more urgent and radical action to squeeze out unnecessary costs, raise productivity and ensure that we continue to focus on front-line delivery. The White Paper lays out a wide-ranging programme to drive national and regional procurement, reduce overheads, improve benchmarking information and strengthen commitment to collaboration between forces and voluntary mergers where appropriate.

Fourth, the White Paper endorses the guiding principles and style of policing championed in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s Report Adapting to Protest: Strengthening the British Model of Policing, published on 25 November 2009. This is a significant contribution to the future direction of the policing of protests, and sets out our commitment to work with the service to take forward the report’s recommendations.

I am also publishing today Reducing Bureaucracy in Policing, the first full report by Jan Berry, the Independent Reducing Bureaucracy Advocate. This report marks the end of Jan’s first full year advising Government and the police forces and police authorities of England and Wales on how best to remove unnecessary bureaucracy in policing. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office.

Jan’s report acknowledges the complex demands placed on the service, and rightly challenges the Government and those who lead forces to continue to work to simplify the performance landscape, crime recording processes, and data collection and other bureaucracy imposed at all levels on front-line officers. Through the White Paper the Government have endorsed 13 of Jan’s recommendations immediately and will consider a further 22 with police service colleagues in the months ahead.

Both Jan Berry’s final report and this White Paper have benefited from open and constructive discussion with the police service and its partners. I am determined that we will continue to work together to create the service the public want—professional, responsive and grounded in communities. The achievements of the past decade give us much to build on. The next steps in the reform programme set out in this White Paper will help ensure that the police get the support they need as well as the credit they deserve, and strengthen further public confidence in this key service.