Select Committee on Home Affairs Seventh Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  The role of the police in the 21st century is broader than it has ever been, owing to a sharp rise in crime levels during the second half of the 20th century, the classification of increasing numbers of incidents as criminal offences, the impact of changes in society and technological advances on patterns of criminality, and growing police involvement in multi-agency approaches to public protection. To ensure the police can fulfil their core roles effectively, there is a need for greater clarity as to their mission and the extent of their responsibilities. Recent reviews of different aspects of policing have not gone far enough. We recommend that an independent review, such as a Royal Commission, or similarly independent review, is established to review what the police do and how they are organised to do it. This review should be focussed and time-limited, in order to provide the police with the clarity about their role that they urgently need. The Government should exercise caution in future when classifying undesirable behaviour as criminal offences. (Paragraph 17)

2.  It is vital that the police are involved in partnership activity at a local level as an effective means of preventing and protecting the public against crime. However, the police should not be expected to fill gaps left by a lack of capacity on the part of other statutory or community organisations. All agencies involved in partnership work should be held accountable for delivery. In replying to this report, the Home Office should provide us with assurance that all local authorities in England and Wales will be held to account for Assessment of Policing and Community Safety indicators. (Paragraph 18)

3.  The current system of measuring police performance has distorted operational priorities, criminalised many individuals for trivial misdemeanours, and prevented forces from focusing on what is important locally. There is much to be welcomed in initial attempts to reform the performance framework. We are pleased that the generic targets for offences brought to justice and sanction detections, which encouraged forces to focus on the easiest crimes to resolve rather than those which have the most significant impact on public safety, have been removed from the 2008/09 statutory performance indicators. These changes should be reflected in local practice and must be reinforced by an alignment in performance measures between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. We support the Government's proposal to end top-down numerical targets, as set out in the Green Paper. The shift towards greater performance monitoring at a local level will require that police authorities are properly resourced to undertake this role. (Paragraph 38)

4.  We are disappointed that fraud is not a police priority, given that it is estimated to cost the UK nearly £14 billion per year and identity fraud is a cause of major public concern. We recommend that forces are required to give greater priority to tackling fraud and are allocated sufficient resources to carry out this function. (Paragraph 39)

5.  There should be a greater focus on the qualitative aspects of police performance. We accept that it is inappropriate to measure performance on counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime through quantitative targets and the Home Office should devise a different means of measuring performance in this area. (Paragraph 40)

6.  Officers should be given greater discretion so that they can deal with incidents in the most appropriate way, particularly from the perspective of the victim, but also for the perpetrator and the criminal justice system as a whole. But the success of this measure relies on effective supervision from frontline sergeants. To this end, we urge the Government to facilitate speedy implementation of HMIC recommendations for national standards for the role of sergeant, training for frontline sergeants and review of promotion processes. We also seek assurances that training for all new officers will help to ensure that they are confident to use their discretion, and the public can have confidence in them to do so. (Paragraph 41)

7.  Low levels of public confidence in the police and distrust of crime statistics are in part driven by a lack of clear information about local crime and police activity. The public should be provided with better information about crime levels in their neighbourhood. Neighbourhood crime mapping appears to be a useful means to achieve this, but the Home Office should be alert to the potential for criminals to use this information to target certain areas. Local police successes should also be publicised in more detail, to reassure the public in a way in which outline crime reduction statistics do not. The Government should consider how this information can be provided in a way that is genuinely accessible. In addition to improving trust and confidence, this information should prove a useful tool in setting neighbourhood policing priorities that genuinely reflect local problems. As a matter of course, police forces should make available to the media the general details of criminal activities that have been reported to the police. (Paragraph 46)

8.  The majority of the public do not have confidence in the police's ability to deal with minor crime and to be there when they are needed. While, on the one hand, we support the renewed focus on serious crime as a way for the police to focus their attentions on this important area of work, on the other, we are concerned that minor crime and anti-social behaviour, which are of great concern to the public, will continue to lack sufficient police attention. (Paragraph 56)

9.  We were impressed with trials undertaken in some forces to give members of the public who contact the police in a non-emergency situation more choice of whether and when they would like an officer to attend. Forces should take note of this approach as a way of increasing public satisfaction. (Paragraph 57)

10.  Members of the public are often unsure of how to contact the police in a non-emergency situation, which results in misuse of the 999 emergency number and delays in reporting and resolving low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. We are disappointed that the Home Office withdrew funding from the single 101 non-emergency number, which would have helped to resolve this situation. We recommend that central funding for the single 101 non-emergency number be reinstated and that the scheme be implemented across England and Wales. (Paragraph 58)

11.  We support the principle behind providing local people with mobile numbers for their neighbourhood officers, but in this form the proposal is impracticable, given that neighbourhood officers are not always on duty. It may be more appropriate for forces to reconfigure call-handling procedures to ensure that members of the public can access local information and be directed to the relevant local officer. (Paragraph 59)

12.  The public want a more visible police service. We support greater use of visible patrols as a key component of neighbourhood policing and a means of increasing public confidence in the police and, potentially, deterring crime. We welcome the Government's removal of the front-line policing measure from the statutory performance indicators, because the range of activities included within it had the potential to mislead the public as to its meaning. Rather, the Home Office should keep the public informed of the amount of time officers spend on visible patrol. (Paragraph 63)

13.  Police representatives believe that the funding increases allocated in the most recent Comprehensive Spending Review are not sufficient to meet requirements. We consider specific aspects of policing for which a case has been made for additional funding later in this Report. However, in general, especially given the fact that the UK spends a higher percentage of GDP on public order than comparable countries, we consider the solution lies in finding ways to release resources through greater efficiency rather than major increases in funding. (Paragraph 72)

14.  We support Sir Ronnie Flanagan's recommendation for full application of the police funding formula at the next Spending Review. The Home Office must work closely with forces that currently benefit from the damping arrangements to help them manage the transition. In the interim, we recommend that the 5% cap on council tax be removed for those authorities which have below-average precept levels, and that this is coupled with measures ensuring greater accountability to local people for policing. (Paragraph 73)

15.  It would appear that foreign nationals are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime. However, it would also appear that they are disproportionately represented among numbers of those committing certain—mostly low-level—crimes. We recommend that all forces employ consistent recording practices for offender and victim nationality, in order to improve understanding and allow resources to be allocated to meet demand. In addition, we recommend that some of the monies from the transitional migration fund allocated to integration projects be diverted to support greater education on British laws, particularly those governing driving, on how immigrants can protect themselves from becoming victims of crime, and how to report crime, in the manner of information already provided by some local authorities. The results of the Migration Statistics Improvement Programme should be made available in time for the next Spending Review. The Home Secretary should give consideration to how population growth can be captured more quickly in funding settlements. (Paragraph 90)

16.  It is clear, however, that dealing with foreign nationals is more expensive for police forces because of the need to employ interpreters and because offenders often spend longer in custody. In replying to this report, the Home Office should clarify whether or not individual police forces will be allowed to bid from the transitional migration fund. If they will not, the Home Secretary must set out proposals to assist those forces whose funding has not kept pace with changes in population. (Paragraph 91)

17.  A more diverse workforce can ease some of the burden on forces by reducing interpretation costs and facilitating information-sharing between new communities and the police. (Paragraph 92)

18.  Alcohol-related crime places a heavy burden on police resources and diverts officers away from dealing with other types of crime. There is limited evidence of the effect of the Licensing Act 2003 on the total number of alcohol-related offences, but there is certainly a strong perception amongst police forces that alcohol-related violence is on the increase. What is clear is that forces now deploy resources to deal with alcohol-related crime and disorder for longer periods of time, as a result of longer opening hours, and in larger areas, as late-night drinking is no longer confined to city centres. (Paragraph 100)

19.  Licence-holders who sell to under-age drinkers or who do not take reasonable steps to prevent alcohol-related crime and disorder increase pressure on the police. We are not convinced that full use is being made of powers under the Licensing Act 2003 to review licences where the holder is found to be irresponsible. The Government should also investigate the ability of local authorities to refuse licences or impose appropriate conditions on licences to promote the licensing objective of preventing crime and disorder, and their capacity to monitor compliance with licence conditions. (Paragraph 106)

20.  Increased police powers to deal with drunk offenders do not appear to have had a significant impact on their ability to reduce alcohol-related crime. We recommend that the Government commission further research into proactive use of penalty notices for disorder. Alcohol referral schemes may prove effective in reducing the numbers of repeat alcohol-related offenders but, having heard sceptical views from frontline officers, we recommend that thorough evaluation of the pilots should be completed before they are implemented nationwide. (Paragraph 107)

21.  We support the principle behind Alcohol Disorder Zones, which encourage licensees to work with the police and local authorities where there is a particular problem of alcohol-related disorder. However, we share the concerns of the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee that they may be overly-bureaucratic. We recommend an evaluation of their take-up and effectiveness within one year of their commencement. We further recommend that the Government encourage greater participation in voluntary Pubwatch schemes to facilitate partnership between licensees and the police. (Paragraph 114)

22.  The cheap availability of alcohol in the off-trade is fuelling alcohol-related crime and disorder and under-age drinking. A lack of clarity about competition law is impeding effective action in this area. We recommend the Government establish as soon as possible a legal basis for banning the use of loss-leading by supermarkets and setting a minimum price for the sale of alcohol. The Home Office should also work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that local authorities are fully informed on how to use their powers under the Licensing Act 2003 to impose licence conditions forbidding drinks promotions. (Paragraph 124)

23.  KPMG has issued a damning verdict on the negligible impact of the alcohol trade's Social Responsibility Standards. The standards need to be reissued on a compulsory basis with a more effective inspection regime and penalties for breaches. They should include a ban on drinks promotions and measures to ensure responsible labelling and staff training. We are also disappointed by the decision by the British Beer and Pub Association to withdraw its policy on promotions. Safeguards intended to promote public health and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour are needed. The Government should clarify whether competition law really does prevent such safeguards, if necessary by bringing a test case. (Paragraph 125)

24.  We understand that policy makers are considering proposals for under-21s to be banned from buying alcohol from supermarkets and off-licences while continuing to be able to buy it in bars. Such proposals seem to unfairly penalise young people who do drink responsibly. Furthermore, we have seen no evidence to suggest that teenage drinkers cause more problems for the police than those in their early 20s. We do not support an increase in the age at which alcohol can be legally purchased; rather, young people should be encouraged to drink responsibly. (Paragraph 126)

25.  We strongly believe that there should be a presumption against the award of bail in cases of murder, owing to the grave nature of the offence and subsequent risk to the public. We support the option set out in the Ministry of Justice consultation on Bail and Murder proposing that bail be granted in cases of murder only if the court is satisfied that there are really exceptional circumstances to justify it. (Paragraph 138)

26.  Police forces do not always have sufficient capacity to monitor offenders released on bail. Therefore, we also support proposals for courts to be made aware of local police practices regarding monitoring of bail conditions, so that these can be taken into account in determining the adequacy of bail conditions; and for courts to be able to impose conditions that must be met by the police before the defendant is released on bail. Given this lack of consistency in police practice, ACPO should consider drawing up guidance on monitoring procedures for offenders released on bail. (Paragraph 139)

27.  Although not directly within the remit of our inquiry, we were concerned by evidence we heard of the experiences of victims' families in attending trials, in terms of the distress they suffer in having to fight for a seat and the potential for intimidation by defendants' supporters. Therefore, we welcome the proposal that Her Majesty's Court Service should introduce separate seating arrangements for victims' families in court. This should be done immediately. (Paragraph 140)

28.  We welcome the use of tagging orders to enable the police to monitor more effectively defendants released on bail. However, we still have some reservations about the extent to which breaches may occur; the Home Office should keep this under review. In our opinion, breaches should be dealt with by withdrawal of bail. (Paragraph 144)

29.  Official statistics appear to demonstrate a slight decrease rather than an increase in knife crime but we doubt whether these represent the true picture. Greater use of accident and emergency data would help to build a better understanding of the extent of the problem, as would proposals to extend the British Crime Survey to cover under-16s. Gun crime causes irreparable damage to the communities affected by it. We do not underestimate the importance of police efforts to combat it. However, we believe that more emphasis and resources should be assigned to tackling knife crime, given its far greater prevalence. (Paragraph 151)

30.  The evidence we heard on knife-crime convinced us of the value of undertaking an inquiry devoted to that subject, which will commence in the autumn. We do, however, make a series of initial recommendations here, based on the evidence we have taken in this inquiry. (Paragraph 163)

31.  We were impressed by successful approaches in Hackney and Moss Side which combined focused, intelligence-led campaigns against key offenders with diversionary activities to tackle knife and gun crime respectively. We recommend that the additional funding provided by the Government to tackle knife crime is used to replicate this approach. (Paragraph 164)

32.  The power to search for weapons, where used appropriately, is a key tool in tackling knife-crime. We recommend that police officers are given clearer guidance as to when they may search those they have stopped for non-arrestable offences for weapons, upon discovery of any recent convictions for carrying a knife or gun. (Paragraph 165)

33.  We are concerned at evidence suggesting that many who are convicted of being in possession of a firearm do not receive the minimum jail term, and that very few teenagers found in possession of a knife receive appropriate sentences. Possessing a weapon is a very serious offence. We recommend that the Home Secretary asks the Sentencing Guidelines Council to revisit their guidelines for knife and gun offences to ensure this is properly reflected. (Paragraph 166)

34.  We are disappointed that police officers are still spending 25-30% of their time completing paperwork. However, we were impressed by Staffordshire Police's efforts to condense their crime-recording procedures and look forward to the results of the crime-recording and streamlined justice process pilots. Should they prove to be as successful as anticipated, we urge national implementation as soon as possible. In addition to the two-tier approach proposed for recording 'serious' and 'local' crimes, we consider there are a number of minor crimes which could be re-classified as 'incidents', with discretion as to whether they need be recorded. (Paragraph 176)

35.  Time spent waiting for CPS charging decisions means that officers are often forced to bail offenders before charges can be brought. Earlier this year, Sir Ronnie Flanagan recommended the issuing of guidance to enable forces to make full use of the charging powers that they currently hold, and extension of these powers to include all summary offences and additional offences subject to trial at magistrates or crown courts. In its reply to this Report, the Government should confirm that these recommendations are being implemented. (Paragraph 177)

36.  On the basis of the evidence we have heard, we conclude that Sir Ronnie Flanagan's proposals for Stop and Account incorporate the appropriate accountability mechanism and are unlikely to damage community relations. We therefore welcome the change of PACE Code A to allow the approach to be piloted in seven Basic Command Units across four forces over the summer. We await the results of the pilots, which will be presented to the House in due course. (Paragraph 181)

37.  On the basis of early evidence from the pilots, we are cautiously optimistic that current attempts to reduce bureaucracy may be more successful than previous efforts. It is essential that the service achieves the level of efficiency savings quantified by Sir Ronnie Flanagan. (Paragraph 182)

38.  Personal digital assistants can significantly increase the amount of time that police officers spend on visible patrol and dealing with incidents outside the station, and reduce the time they spend on paperwork. We welcome the Home Secretary's recent grant of £50 million to fund PDAs in 19 English forces and her promises of a further £25 million, but recognise that many forces were disappointed not to win funding bids. We recommend that sufficient funding is made available as soon as possible to enable all frontline officers to have access to a PDA. (Paragraph 192)

39.  Central procurement of new technology allows for economies of scale, consistent standards and integrated systems, and makes the police service a more attractive client for providers. In addition, while we commend individual innovations towards more effective policing on the part of individual forces, we query how much time is wasted in duplicated efforts. In our view, it is possible to achieve a balance with meeting the needs of individual forces by developing a common platform that can then be tailored to suit the local situation. (Paragraph 205)

40.  The National Policing Improvement Agency should take the lead in negotiating the purchase of PDAs and their supporting infrastructure on a uniform basis, in order to reduce costs and remove contractual burdens from individual forces. In doing so, they should give careful consideration to the supporting infrastructure to ensure ease of use and flexibility to adapt to future innovations. It is important that officers who will use the technology are involved in system design to ensure it meets their needs. (Paragraph 206)

41.  The British Transport Police play a key role in protecting against the threat of terrorism. It is therefore essential that the force is able to access the Police National Database on the same basis as Home Office forces, to enable intelligence to be shared fully across the service. We hope that, in its reply to this report, the Home Office can provide assurances that funding for this will be forthcoming. (Paragraph 209)

42.  Collaboration between forces at a regional level to share support services enables forces to operate more efficiently. While there is a range of good practice throughout England and Wales, it appears that many forces are not collaborating to the extent that they could be. We recommended last year in our Police Funding report that the Home Office should keep under review its policy of not mandating forces to share services. Given the lack of progress in this area, we recommend the Home Secretary should now use her powers to mandate those forces who are not doing so voluntarily to share support services. (Paragraph 215)

43.  We accept that the use of experienced professionals from outside the police service in administrative roles such as finance and human resources, and the transfer of back-office functions to police staff, allows for a more professional service to be delivered in a more cost- effective way and facilitates the deployment of more police officers on the frontline. (Paragraph 228)

44.  However, we urge caution when it comes to allowing police staff to undertake investigative tasks. Despite evidence suggesting that staff can undertake tasks such as taking statements in a cheaper and potentially more effective way, we are concerned about the implications for resilience in dealing with emergency situations, should officer numbers fall significantly; and for public consent for policing, should officers only be seen to undertake confrontational roles. (Paragraph 229)

45.  In particular, we do not consider the role of custody sergeant suitable for a non-sworn officer, owing to the complexity of the role and the need for a police officer's training and experience. Therefore, we welcomed the assurances we received from the Minister of State that he would seek to repeal Sections 120 and 121 of the Serious and Organised Crime Act. (Paragraph 230)

46.  As control over performance moves away from the centre to the locality, it is important that local accountability structures are strengthened so that people have the means to judge police performance and express their confidence, or lack of it. Police authorities in their current form are under-resourced and relatively unknown to local people. Therefore, we support reform in this area. (Paragraph 245)

47.  It is not clear to us how the Government's proposals for reforming police authorities as set out in the Green Paper will help to increase the accountability of the police to local people. The relatively low turnouts at local elections are unlikely to rise for independent authority members, meaning that new Crime and Policing Representatives may have as little, if not less, mandate to represent local people than current councillors. In addition, with regard to London authorities, we query why elected authority members appointed by the Mayor to sit on the MPA have any greater democratic mandate than elected councillors who sit on other police authorities. We are also concerned about the potential for this additional layer of representation to undermine partnership working between the police and local authorities. (Paragraph 246)

48.  We do, however, welcome the Government's further proposal to raise the capacity and influence of police authorities by introducing guidance on capacity, improving training and skills development and removing barriers to exchange of data from police force to authority. It is doubtful, however, whether their capacity can be much improved without more resources. (Paragraph 247)

49.  Early evidence suggests that neighbourhood policing can have a positive impact on public confidence in the police. In order to improve confidence levels, it is important that the public is kept informed of progress against local priorities. (Paragraph 257)

50.  We believe community engagement exercises facilitated by neighbourhood police teams can be an effective means of setting local priorities. However, in order for priorities to be truly representative of local concerns, the local community must be made more aware of how they can be involved. Despite the proposed move away from central targets, conflicts may still arise between neighbourhood priorities and priorities set at Basic Command Unit, force or national level. Neighbourhood police officers should be prepared to give an explanation to local people where it is essential that higher priorities take precedence. (Paragraph 258)

51.  Local intelligence gathered through neighbourhood policing is being used to help tackle terrorism and other serious crime. All forces should ensure that they have adequate systems in place so that intelligence can be shared easily between neighbourhood officers and specialist and response teams. (Paragraph 261)

52.  Neighbourhood policing is competing with specialist services for funding. We welcome the Government's three-year commitment to continue to provide ring-fenced resources to neighbourhood policing. We are concerned that a large number of neighbourhood officers also have to undertake with response duties. In our view, all forces should adopt an abstraction policy that ensures that neighbourhood police officers are dedicated to operating in their neighbourhood. (Paragraph 264)

53.  We are concerned about the shortfall in police capacity to deal with serious and organised crime. In our view, there is a strong case to be made for more resources to be provided to the police. We remain unconvinced about the effectiveness of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and its relationship with police forces. (Paragraph 277)

54.  While we consider the Government was right to withdraw its proposals to compel forces to merge, we are convinced of the need for closer working at a regional level. Therefore, we are not opposed to voluntary mergers but reiterate we our support for the Government to require collaboration in protective services where this proves necessary. (Paragraph 278)

55.  We are encouraged at progress made to improve the ability of the police to manage the terrorist threat. However, we were unable to judge during our inquiry whether the police have the capacity and capability to respond to a major terrorist attack. (Paragraph 279)

56.  Insufficient progress has been made in bringing forward a plan to secure the London Olympic Games, which are now only four years away. We are concerned at the potential implications both for security during the event and for planning by individual forces who will be involved in delivery. The Home Office should take urgent steps to ensure that planning security for the Games is properly co-ordinated across police forces and other authorities. (Paragraph 293)

57.  The Airwave radio network can struggle to cope where a very large number of users are concentrated in the same area. We are concerned about the potential for the network to fail during the Olympic 2012 games, given the numbers of officers who will be deployed. The Home Office should address this as a matter of urgency, including consideration of expanding the radio band assigned to Airwave. We expect the Home Office to keep us informed as to practical steps they are taking in partnership with Airwave Solutions. (Paragraph 294)

58.  We welcome assurances that radio communication between tunnel and surface is now possible through most of the London Underground network. This is of particular importance should the system once again be subject to terrorist attack. The priority for remaining installation work should be those stations with greatest operational need. (Paragraph 295)

59.  There has been a slight decrease in officer strength between 2007 and 2008. We would be concerned should police numbers reduce significantly. However, we accept that police forces and authorities should focus on how officers can be deployed in the most effective way rather than concentrating on maintaining an arbitrary number of officers. (Paragraph 301)

60.  During our inquiry, we saw little evidence of a problem in attracting candidates to the force, or of any concerns about applicant quality. However, we note police representatives' concerns about future recruitment, given concerns about pay, changes to terms and conditions and an ageing population. It can be difficult to make up any recruitment shortfalls very quickly because of the amount of training which officers need to undertake. The Home Office should continue to monitor applicant to vacancy ratios. (Paragraph 307)

61.  According to official figures, retention levels remain relatively high. However, forces are more concerned about their potential to retain experienced officers than they are about recruitment. We strongly regret the move a year ago not to give officers the full pay award recommended by the independent pay review. However, we anticipate that efforts to cut bureaucracy and restore officer discretion, should they be successful, will also have a beneficial impact on morale. (Paragraph 316)

62.  Retention is a particular problem for forces surrounding London, who have collectively lost over 1,000 officers to the Metropolitan Police over the past five years because of the latter's favourable terms and conditions. We recommend that the South-East Allowance be substantially increased to make it more feasible for officers living in the South-East to work outside London. In addition, we encourage the Metropolitan Police to agree a protocol with surrounding areas to seek to limit transfers. (Paragraph 317)

63.  Police force resources are being stretched by the number of officers on long-term sick leave who are not capable of serving on the frontline but who cannot be compelled to carry out back office functions under the terms of their contracts. The Home Office should commission research on the cost implications to forces of officers on long-term sick leave, with a view to move towards more flexible contracts that would allow for them to be transferred to a staff role. (Paragraph 318)

64.  We oppose direct entry to the police at chief officer level. In our view, operational experience is crucial to allow chief officers to fulfil their role effectively. We were particularly struck by evidence which underlined the value of strong leadership in combating risk aversion in the service, which relies on a solid operational background. We understand the argument put forward by the Association of Police Authorities that forces benefit from external professionals directing human resources, for example, but such roles should be separated from chief officer responsibilities. More needs to be done, however, to attract applicants to chief officer positions. We are not convinced that the Government's proposal for advertising posts in co-ordinated rounds, with a greater role for the Senior Appointments Panel in advising on matches, will be sufficient. (Paragraph 325)

65.  We agree that the primary role of PCSOs should be to provide a visible presence, act as the "eyes and ears" of the police service and facilitate community engagement exercises undertaken to inform local priority-setting. However, we support a cautious extension of their powers so that all PCSOs are awarded powers that are currently at the discretion of Chief Constables. Moreover, the Home Office should consider piloting the provision of a warrant card to allow PCSOs to make arrests in exceptional circumstances, where lives are in danger. We understand that this will require more rigorous training and supervision. PCSOs should not undertake any more than the bare minimum of bureaucracy necessary to the role and should not be based in police stations. (Paragraph 337)

66.  The public needs to be made better aware about the role of PCSOs. We believe that, in addition to standard powers, PCSOs across the country should wear the same uniform, as the current disparity is confusing to the public. We hope that PCSOs are now accepted as full members of the policing family. (Paragraph 338)

67.  Although the service is a long way from meeting the Home Office target for women in the service, we are encouraged by the proportion of women entering the service and do not support the introduction of affirmative action. We are concerned at the significantly higher levels of resignation from female officers and urge forces to offer more flexible options to make it easier for women to remain in the service. There do not appear to be structural barriers to women progressing through the ranks, but we believe there should be more mentoring opportunities throughout the service to support women in applying for promotion. (Paragraph 343)

68.  We support increased diversity in the police to ensure forces have access to the best people, regardless of their background, and can continue to improve relationships between the police and minority communities. (Paragraph 353)

69.  We are disappointed that police will not meet Home Office targets for BME recruitment in 2009. We do not support affirmative action, but concerted efforts must be made to make the service a more attractive prospect for BME candidates. In particular, Home Office resources should be invested in a targeted recruitment campaign. The level of PCSO recruitment from minority communities is encouraging, and we hope that some of these PCSOs will be encouraged to apply for officer positions where appropriate. (Paragraph 354)

70.  We are unable to assess the extent of racism in the police service. Amongst the police leadership who gave evidence to us there appeared to be a genuine belief in the importance of increasing recruitment from BME communities for policing. It is important that all claims of discrimination are investigated in a transparent manner, and, where guilt is established, those who are responsible are punished. We note that the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary have initiated inquiries into racism in the Metropolitan Police and the police service as a whole, respectively. We hope that the results of these inquiries and subsequent actions taken will encourage black and minority ethnic officers to join the police. (Paragraph 355)

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