New Landscape of Policing - Home Affairs Committee Contents

3  The Professional Body

101.  In this chapter we consider the recommendations in Peter Neyroud's review of police leadership and training, whether there is a need to professionalise the police service, the role of the Association of Chief Police Officers in the current landscape and whether it would still be needed if there were to be a Professional Body for policing, the role of the Professional Body in relation to training and guidance, and, finally, the governance arrangements and budgets for the proposed new body.

Peter Neyroud's Review

102.  In August 2010, the Home Secretary commissioned Peter Neyroud, who was then Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, to undertake a review of police leadership and training. The terms of reference included :

  • how ACPO can own and develop a shared vision in the service which engages practitioners, with Police and Crime Commissioners locally and nationally, with Government and other organisations such as the new National Crime Agency, for the standards of leadership and the development of the profession, building on learning from the Leadership Strategy;
  • how to develop an ACPO capacity to deliver leadership development, and assessment/accreditation, supported by the Superintendents' Association, the Police Federation and others, which brings a cohesive approach to the leadership landscape;
  • how the leadership functions can be transitioned effectively in the context of the need for very substantial budget reductions;
  • the need to respond to the Government's priority of reducing the unsustainable national deficit, including alternative funding models for leadership that both reduce and recover cost;
  • the potential role of other providers in training delivery, including other public sector leadership academies, the private sector, and other institutions.[127]

103.  Peter Neyroud published his review on 5 April 2011. Its principal recommendation is the creation of a new Professional Body for policing "embracing the whole of the police service and responsible for leadership, learning and standards."[128] The review proposes that the new body would be supported by a Charter and would be responsible for:

  • key national standards, both individual and organisational;
  • qualification frameworks; and
  • leadership and training approaches for the service.

The body would therefore be taking on some of the functions currently performed by the National Policing Improvement Agency and some currently performed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, points to which we return later.

The need to professionalise the service

104.   Peter Neyroud commented in his review that "the police service needs to move from being a service that acts professionally to becoming a professional service".[129] He expanded on what he meant by this when he gave evidence to us:

There has been a great deal of work to make the service, for example, much better at investigating crime, much better at dealing with particular specialist functions, but, to be frank, none of those have been pulled together as a clear, single, professional body of knowledge yet.[130]

Reactions from our other witnesses to the idea of a Professional Body for policing ranged from enthusiastic to cautiously supportive to sceptical. There appears to be no one dominant reaction—positive or negative—in the policing world, and this in itself could prove problematic to the Body's development. Sir Hugh Orde, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that he personally was in favour of the proposal for a chartered institute: "I think it professionalises policing or recognises policing as a profession and gives us a chance to make sure that we maintain certain standards."[131] Inspector Damian O'Reilly, an officer with Greater Manchester Police, was also positive about the idea:

Personally I think there are merits obviously in professionalising the police service.... When you compare us to other organisations because, perhaps, we are not accredited for a lot of the courses that we have done in terms of a recognisable qualification, arguably that affects credibility.[132]

105.  However, Derek Barnett, President of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, said that although he and his members supported the idea of a Professional Body in principle, he was less clear about how it would work in practice:

The difficulty appears to have been in the terminology, because nobody is quite clear what a "professional body" means in policing. The Royal College of Nursing, for example, is a trade union that acts in furtherance of the interests of its members. I think what Peter Neyroud is suggesting is something that is both regulatory but also membership-focused, and that has caused us a bit of difficulty because it becomes a bit of a hybrid organisation.[133]

Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation, commented that he was still consulting his members, but stated:

We have some real concerns with a professional body. We wonder why it is that we need a professional body when policing is in effect a profession already, and we wonder how it is going to alter the dynamic with the office of constable in particular.[134]

He commented: "if ACPO perhaps was not under pressure to change what it is...would we be facing a professional body? I do not think that we would."[135]

106.  There is some support for a Professional Body for policing from within the service itself, but there does not appear to be a strong demand for such a body as yet. Peter Neyroud's proposals seem to have been strongly influenced by the need to adjust to the phasing out of the National Policing Improvement Agency and redefine the role of the Association of Chief Police Officers, rather than the need to professionalise the police service per se. This does not mean that a Professional Body could not ultimately become a useful part of the policing landscape, but it does mean that if the Government proceeds with these proposals, it will need to win hearts and minds and to convey coherently the nature and role of the new body.

The Professional Body and ACPO

107.  The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) was founded in 1948 and, over the years, it has taken on an increasing number of roles in relation to the national-co-ordination of policing and policy-making. It would be an exaggeration to say that it has acquired these roles by accident rather than by design, but there is an element of chance in the way it has developed. Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO, stated that it had a grip on the national policing landscape, but commented: "It is not through any choice; it is because someone has to do it."[136] Mick Creedon, the Chief Constable of Derbyshire, commented on "the huge complexity of policing and where things sit" and stated: "What has happened, I think, is that we have put things in places by default." [137]

108.  ACPO's membership comprises chief officers of the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (Commander in the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police) or above, as well as senior police staff equivalents. There are currently 334 members. Chief officers are not remunerated for their work for ACPO and carry out their duties in addition to their everyday work. The President of ACPO is a full-time, paid post, however. ACPO describes itself as "a professional body not a staff association."[138] A separate body, the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, acts as a staff association.

109.  ACPO's work is conducted through business areas, which are headed by a serving chief officer, who has responsibility for that broad area of policing. Under each business area, there are portfolios, which are the responsibility of individual officers, who are then the national lead on that specific issue. The business areas are: children and young people; crime; criminal justice; equality, diversity and human rights; finances and resources; futures; information management; local policing and partnerships; Olympics; performance management; terrorism and allied matters; uniformed operations; and workforce development. ACPO develops national standards and professional practice in these areas. It also has oversight of a number of national policing units, agencies, and projects, including until recently the national units on domestic extremism, which are now the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police.[139] ACPO employs a small secretariat of 23 staff to assist with its work.

110.  Avon and Somerset Constabulary stated in its written evidence that there was a recognition, "led by ACPO itself," that ACPO needed to change.[140] Part of the concern about ACPO relates to its status since 1997 as a limited company, which Sara Thornton, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley, described as "a device to sort out a very practical issue about renting premises and employing staff."[141] The fact that ACPO is a limited company means that it is not automatically subject to the Freedom of Information Act. There are also wider concerns about its accountability. In evidence given to our predecessor Committee shortly after taking up the role of President, Sir Hugh Orde said:

We are more than happy to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Of course, most of our information is owned by chief constables anyway so it is absolutely retrievable, but I do think we are more than happy for that and work is underway on that front with legislation that, I am told, will be necessary to achieve it.[142]

The Information Commissioner's Office told us that it welcomed the intention to bring ACPO under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.[143]

111.  The need for greater transparency is not, however, the only concern that has been raised about ACPO. The involvement of its members, who are unelected and unaccountable, in policy-making has also caused disquiet. The Police Foundation stated:

we believe ACPO should take great care when advising on policing policy...We strongly believe that policy should for the main part be left to Government ministers who are accountable to Parliament. ACPO has been criticised on a number of occasions for lobbying on policing policy issues, particularly under the last government, and we believe that this should not continue.[144]

112.  In Policing in the 21st Century, the Government commented that ACPO's role in the new landscape would be in "repositioning itself as the national organisation responsible for providing the professional leadership for the police service, by taking the lead role on setting standards and sharing best practice across the range of police activities."[145] Peter Neyroud's terms of reference included consideration of ACPO's role in the new landscape and his review itself stated: "The Professional Body will 'reposition' ACPO by merging its functions into the new body whilst bringing in members from across the service, from police officer and police staff roles."[146]

113.  Taking both of these comments together raises the question of whether the Professional Body will essentially be ACPO by a different name. When we asked Peter Neyroud whether the Professional Body was "just a revamped ACPO", he replied

No, absolutely not...I think there are some pretty well rehearsed flaws in the current organisation, not the least of which was creating the organisation as a company limited by guarantee operating in public space—that was a serious flaw. I have been very careful to try and set out an organisation that encompasses the whole of the profession. I think that is, again, a deep flaw in the current process.[147]

114.  We asked Sir Hugh Orde how he thought the new Professional Body would differ from ACPO. He commented:

I think the very clear difference is it [the Professional Body] is an inclusive organisation that requires the support and engagement of every it is completely different. It would be a body of 145,000-plus people. It should include all people who are involved in policing, sworn and unsworn; otherwise, frankly, over time it will not work.[148]

This commitment to an inclusive organisation sounded positive, but was slightly undercut when Sir Hugh added: "Whether one can start off with that sort of great big event or we need to start building incrementally I think is a matter for debate."[149]

115.  Some of the rhetoric used in the review also raises doubts about how inclusive the body would be in practice. The review referred to ACPO as being the "head and heart" of the new Professional Body.[150] Sara Thornton, one of ACPO's three Vice Presidents, described the phrase as "probably ill advised." She said: "In my view, the heart of policing is the people who go and work 24/7 in all weathers doing difficult jobs, and not chief officers necessarily."[151] She said that the new body needed to be "intensely democratic" and "to include the whole of the service, all ranks, police staff and police officers."[152]

116.  It is extremely unhelpful to talk of ACPO as being the head and the heart of the new Professional Body, or to use similar expressions. ACPO represents and involves chief officers and the most senior managers in the police service, whereas a significant contribution is made by superintendents. The Police Superintendents' Association has for years made a valuable contribution to professional development and standards, as well as reflecting the practicalities of crime reduction work on the ground. The majority of police officers are represented by the Police Federation, which also makes an important contribution to training and development. All three elements of the police service, and all three bodies need to share and be engaged in developing a Professional Body.

117.  It is also unhelpful to suggest that the Professional Body could become inclusive in stages. If the Professional Body is to succeed, it must be inclusive from the outset. The police's basic Peelian mission to prevent crime and disorder should be at the centre of the Professional Body. The Professional Body has the potential to change the police service for the better, particularly with regard to training—a point to which we return later—but only if it is emphatically not, and not perceived to be, a repositioned ACPO. Individual police officers and members of staff, whatever their rank, need to believe that this is their body: not least because, as we discuss below, they would be contributing a substantial element of its running costs.

The role of the Professional Body


118.  One of the principal roles of the Professional Body—a role currently performed by ACPO—would be the issuing of guidance and the setting of standards. In the light of the concerns that have been raised about ACPO's involvement in developing policy, we asked Peter Neyroud about the distinction between setting guidance and standards, and setting policy. He commented that there was a difference between policy, which is the province of Ministers, and "the day-to-day practice that police officers do." He illustrated his point with the example of the police use of firearms. He stated:

there is a distinction between the overall policy about how the police service in England and Wales approaches the issue of the use of lethal force, which is properly the province of political debate and...of these two Houses, and the detailed practice about how you train police officers, how they will physically carry out their duty.[153]

He agreed, however, that "there is always going to be a join between the detailed practice and training and the overall policy".`[154] In the review itself, he stated:

in policing there are some standards which will create a probability of police officers using significant force and therefore causing harm to citizens, where the standard is designed to protect the public from a serious and significant risk of harm, or where the standard carries the possibility or indeed strong probability of a significant interference with liberty. In these cases, it seems to me that those standards should be the subject of external scrutiny and, in many cases, by agreement between the Police Professional body and the Secretary of State.[155]

119.  When we asked Peter Neyroud who would decide whether an area of practice required this higher degree of public scrutiny—a question he himself raised in the review—he commented: "I would expect there to be a very clear set of agreements and understandings openly set out between the professional body, [and] the Home Secretary".[156] We note that although Peter Neyroud made a distinction between the two spheres of policy and practical guidance, he thought that the Professional Body should have a role in both. He stated: "a professional body can properly operate in the second sphere and can properly influence the first."[157]

120.  The new Professional Body should not be a policy-setting body for policing. National policy should be set by the Home Office and guidance and standards issued by the Professional Body should be subordinate. In recognition of the fact that guidance and standards sometimes shade into policy, the Home Office will need to review what is developed and refer it to Ministers as necessary. We return to the issuing of guidance in our chapter on bureaucracy.

121.  Given that the Professional Body would take on ACPO's functions in relation to guidance and standards the question arises of whether there would still be a need for a separate ACPO in the new landscape. Sir Hugh Orde, perhaps unsurprisingly, implied that there would. After commenting favourably on Peter Neyroud's proposal for a Professional Body for policing, he added:

That all having been said, we still come up against this difficult territory when you are trying to deliver a consistent approach to deal with national threats of some structure whereby the chief constables have to come together to agree those operational standards.[158]

Sara Thornton, the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and a Vice-President of ACPO, also thought that there would still be a need for a body involving Chief Constables that was separate from the Professional Body. She stated:

Where we have a slight concern is that the assumption is that somehow the Chief Constables' Council could be part of such a democratic body. I am not sure it could be because there are some decisions on which 44 chiefs who have legal direction and control responsibilities come together to agree common ways. A couple of examples would be the command protocols we have for dealing with terrorism incidents or, indeed, the way we have all agreed to deal with the threat from marauding gunmen. I would contend that that sort of decision could not be taken by a professional body. It has to be a decision made by 44 Chief Constables, with the legal responsibility they have, agreeing to do the same thing in the national interest.[159]

122.  There should be a Chief Constables' Council, separate from the Professional Body. Its purpose should purely be for Chief Constables to discuss operational matters. The Council should not be a policy-making body, any more than the Professional Body should be. In addition, the Council should not have its own operational capacity or functions, and should not conduct for-profit activities.


123.  In addition to guidance and standards, the Professional Body would have responsibility for training. In his review, Peter Neyroud referred to "a transformation of the culture of learning in the police service."[160] He advocated "moving away from in house delivered programmes which have been largely classroom based to a new partnership with Higher Education, building towards the 'teaching hospitals' for policing linking learning with practice." He also recommended "a new professional qualification framework [which] will see managers and frontline officers developed and supported to keep their practice current and consistent with the best."[161]

124.  When we asked Paul McKeever, Chairman of the Police Federation, whether he thought that the Professional Body would improve the quality of and access to training, he replied:

The best training that police officers get is on the job when you are with other officers and learn directly from them. However, we have a training body that was set up only two or three years ago—the National Police Improvement Agency—and within forces we also have a lot of independent training bodies and units to deal with particular aspects of that. Do we need a separate entity? I am not sure.[162]

However, the National Policing Improvement Agency will not be in existence for much longer, and, unless all training is going to be provided locally, a national body will have to take on some of its functions. Moreover, under Peter Neyroud's proposals, which employ the 'teaching hospitals' model, training would take the form of "on the job" learning as well as theory.

125.  We asked Peter Neyroud how his recommendations would help police officers to avoid making mistakes when they carried out their mission of preventing crime and disorder, using the mistakes made in the investigation into the murders committed by Peter Sutcliffe as an example. Peter Neyroud replied that there were several elements of his proposals that would be helpful in such a context:

the first of which is to place a greater onus on individuals to be continuously professionally developed through their career. That has been one of the flaws, and there has been a tendency to have long periods between training when practice should have changed. Secondly, there is a strong thread running through this about ensuring the quality of specialist training, and including detectives. Thirdly, there is a stronger thread about senior managers: because a large part of the problem with the Ripper inquiry was also about senior managers who didn't properly supervise and didn't understand how to make the investigation work, there is a substantial amount of emphasis on ensuring better qualifications at those key levels.[163]

126.  Tom Winsor commented that the creation of a Professional Body would be "very likely to harmonise" with his own recommendations. He stated that a Professional Body would fit "rather neatly with the principles and proposals that I have made for the establishment, for example, of the expertise and professional accreditation allowance," which would allow for "the recognition of skills that are acquired and used in police careers so that those who do not only the most arduous jobs, but the most highly skilled jobs, should be recognised through pay as well as in other ways."[164]

127.  Although a new Professional Body would be the obvious institution to take on the National Policing Improvement Agency's responsibility to provide support to forces on training, it is unclear from Peter Neyroud's review exactly which functions currently performed by the Agency would transfer to the new body. Nick Gargan, the Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, commented:

Peter Neyroud has produced a report that, in some respects, is remarkably detailed. We can go into Peter's report and find out how much a PSCO or a police sergeant will pay to be a member, but what we don't understand is which of those NPIA functions, with certainty, would end up in the body.[165]

The absence of this detail is perhaps all the more surprising given that Peter Neyroud was himself the Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency until he undertook the review. It is not just the National Policing Agency's training functions that could be incorporated in the Professional Body. When we asked Peter Neyroud what should happen to National Improvement Agency functions such as the national injuries database, and where other functions connected with serious crime might sit, he commented: "I propose they sit with the professional body as support functions."[166]

128.  A properly resourced and structured Professional Body could have the potential to improve police training, particularly if it encourages practical learning and places an onus on individuals continually to update their knowledge. The emphasis on specialist training and qualifications also harmonises well with Tom Winsor's proposals to reward those who do skilled jobs. However, it is not clear which of the functions currently provided by the National Policing Improvement Agency and listed in chapter 1 of this report will migrate to the Professional Body in the new landscape. We urge the Home Office to provide a list of exactly which functions will be transferred to the new Body.

Budget and governance of the Professional Body

129.  In the review, Peter Neyroud stated: "The core and supporting functions of the Professional Body ... would be funded through a combination of personal subscription charges, fees for services received from the Professional Body, along with a much reduced grant."[167] He told us that the current overall envelope of funding that the Home Office provided for the activities described in the report was £20 million. He said that the contribution from the Home Office would fall to £5 million over the four years of the Spending Review period. However, the overall cost of the Professional Body over the Spending Review period would be £15 million. The remaining funding would come from subscriptions from members—that is, police officers and staff—and from a levy or payment for services.[168] The £15 million would be split "roughly" three ways between these three different funding sources. As far as we can tell from the current evidence, the funding proposals for the Professional Body seem viable. However, we reiterate that the fact that a substantial element of the running costs of the new body will be contributed by individual police officers and staff makes it all the more important that this truly is a body for everyone and not just for senior members of the police service. For that reason, it must neither be 'owned by', nor subsumed under or within ACPO.

130.  The governance arrangements proposed for the new Professional Body are relatively complex and would involve an Executive Board, a Council of Chief Constables, an Independent Scrutiny Board, a Management Board, Work Groups and a Delivery Body.[169] Peter Neyroud told us that, while the review was taking place, there had been some debate about whether the Delivery Body should be a separate body, but he said: "the more you looked at it the more that just generated another set of meetings and another body and another set of accountabilities."[170] We would caution that making the Delivery Body part of the Professional Body is no guarantee that there will be fewer meetings. Indeed, the sheer number of different elements involved in the Professional Body means that we do not share Peter Neyroud's confidence that one thing that will disappear under his proposals will be "a shedload of meetings."[171]

131.  Peter Neyroud proposes that the Home Secretary should have the power to appoint a nominee non-Executive director to the Board of the Professional Body and that the Professional Body "in the interests of transparency and public accountability provides the Home Secretary with a business plan and a regular report of key issues."[172] When we asked him whether there should be a Police and Crime Commissioner on the Board, he said:

No, because I made a distinction in the report between the national responsibilities that the professional body is exercising and the local responsibilities for an accountability of the Police and Crime Commissioner. My argument is that those two should be kept distinct, but that the Police and Crime Commissioner should chair the scrutiny board that makes sure that the body is doing the job that it was set up to do.[173]

132.  We are not convinced that there would need to be an Independent Scrutiny Board for the Professional Body. We believe that the role of scrutinising the Professional Body could be carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. There should be a Police and Crime Commissioner on the Board of the new Professional Body in order to help connect local policing with the national policing landscape. We have already stated that we think that the Council of Chief Constables should be a separate body with a strictly operational focus.

The future

133.  After the publication of Peter Neyroud's review, the Government launched a 90-day consultation period, which ended on 28 June 2011. Peter Neyroud told us that he expected that the Government's response to his review would follow "fairly soon" after the end of the consultation, but neither the results of the consultation, nor a response to the review have yet been published.[174] Sir Denis O'Connor, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said that the Professional Body was "a worthy aspiration", but added: "The fact of the matter is that several bodies have to set aside their own particular concerns for the common good. My experience in life is that takes some time."[175] A Professional Body for policing that has Sir Robert Peel's mission of preventing crime and disorder at its core has the potential to become an effective part of the new landscape, but there are considerable obstacles to its success. The most important challenge will be winning the support of the rank and file of police officers and staff. We urge the Home Secretary to respond to Peter Neyroud's review, setting out whether she plans to pursue the idea of a Professional Body and, if so, explaining how she would go about the task of making it inclusive right from the start. We urge her to ensure that the Professional Body is separate from the Council of Chief Constables and is a new body with a focus entirely on professional standards and training. The role of the new Professional Body should not be confused by giving it functions or responsibilities which do not relate to professional standards simply because there are functions for which a home has to be found somewhere. A realistic timetable for setting up the Body is essential and given that it is unlikely to be fully functional before the phasing out of the National Policing Improvement Agency, the Home Office should specify what interim arrangements it will put in place for the functions it proposes to transfer from the Agency. If there is a decision to create a new Professional Body for policing, it would make sense for the development of this new body—which will involve consideration of the role and purpose of the police—to inform the development of the new landscape of policing more widely.

127   Peter Neyroud, Review of Police Leadership and Training, April 2011, p 9 Back

128   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 2 Back

129   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 11 Back

130   Q 4 Back

131   Q 103 Back

132   Q 570 Back

133   Q 647 Back

134   Q 492 Back

135   Q 493 Back

136   Q 119 Back

137   Q 119 Back

138 Back

139   Q 123 Back

140   Ev141 Back

141   Q 723 Back

142   Oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on The Work of the Association of Chief Police Officers, 13 October 2009, Q 8 Back

143   Ev125 Back

144   Ev109 Back

145   Policing in the 21st Century, p 33 Back

146   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 11 Back

147   Q 10 Back

148   Q 117 Back

149   Ibid. Back

150   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 50 Back

151   Q 722 Back

152   Q 721 Back

153   Q 6 Back

154   Q 7 Back

155   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 66 Back

156   Q 70 Back

157   Q 6 Back

158   Q 103 Back

159   Q 721 Back

160   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 2 Back

161   Ibid. Back

162   Q 493 Back

163   Q 21 Back

164   Q 470 Back

165   Q 424 Back

166   Q 41 Back

167   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 166 Back

168   Qq 26-36 Back

169   See p 52 of the review for a diagram showing how these elements would relate to one another.  Back

170   Q 42 Back

171   Q 22 Back

172   Review of Police Leadership and Training, p 15 Back

173   Q 40 Back

174   Q 68 Back

175   Qq 391-2 Back

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Prepared 23 September 2011