Home Affairs Committee Press Release

Session 2007-08, 22 July 2008

Emerging Findings

Emerging Findings

Policing in the 21st Century inquiry-emerging findings

The Home Affairs Committee has concluded its inquiry into policing in the 21st century. Since February, the Committee has taken oral evidence from 41 witnesses, received 36 written submissions and visited Colchester, Newark, Reading, Monmouth, Burton, Stockport and Manchester.

The Committee will be carefully considering the evidence it has heard over the summer, before publishing its final conclusions and recommendations in the autumn. This press release gives an indication as to emerging findings.

A number of issues give the Committee cause for concern. From a police perspective, frustrations include:

  • Unhelpful targets
  • Excessive bureaucracy
  • A lack of clarity as to their role
  • A gap in their capacity to fight serious and organised crime
  • Whether the service can continue to retain experienced officers
  • The amount of police resources caught up in tackling alcohol-related crime

The Committee has been impressed with how police forces throughout England and Wales are responding to these challenges, through better use of technology, by cutting down on form-filling, developing innovative ways of deploying officers and staff, and collaborating with each other to deliver more efficient services. More, however, needs to be done.

From within and outside of the police service, there is a recognition of the need to devolve greater control over policing to the local level, greater accountability of the police to the public and to improve public satisfaction with the police. How this can be achieved will be one of our key deliberations. The public would like:

  • More police officers on the street
  • Visible crime reduction
  • Quicker police responses to incidents
  • The police to deal with low-level crime, as well as more serious offences

Knife crime is a far greater problem than indicated by Government figures and is not something the police can resolve alone. The Committee plans to look at this issue in more depth later in the year.

The Committee notes that many of these concerns are considered in the Green Paper on Policing, published last week, and looks forward to engaging with the Government on this crucial subject in the autumn.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“This has been an extensive, wide-ranging inquiry. There is clearly a long way to go before we have the modern police force that the British public demand and deserve.”

“There are a couple of key areas that we have focused on. It is essential that the Government looks at excessive bureaucracy and the ways that technology can help relieve these pressures and the importance of getting the police back on the streets to make the public feel safer.”

“The Government’s Green Paper is to be welcomed and we anticipate that our findings, to be reported in the autumn,will go a long way in shaping the Government’s approach to reforming the police.”