Evaluating the new architecture of policing: the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency - Home Affairs Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The New Landscape of Policing

1.  During the course of this Parliament, all the major policing bodies have been overhauled and reformed. There is no part of the police service that has not been or is not being restructured. It is now time to allow these pieces of the policing puzzle to settle into the new landscape, so that they might achieve the aim of making policing more effective. (Paragraph 7)

2.  One piece of the policing jigsaw that has not found a settled position is counter-terrorism. We agree with the Home Secretary's decision not to conduct a review in this Parliament, due to the terrorism risk faced by the UK at the moment. However, given recent national events and global atrocities, it does not appear likely that the terrorism risk will decrease in the near future. Therefore, we recommend that the review take place early in the next Parliament, to maximise the impact of the police's CT capabilities. (Paragraph 12)

3.  We are concerned that some police forces believe that they will not be able to operate in their current form while making further efficiency savings. We are also concerned that senior leaders in the police appear to be keen to tear up the police forces map to make savings. We have previously examined how forces can collaborate both with their neighbouring forces, and with other blue light services. We believe that potential savings from collaboration between forces and between the emergency services at local level have not yet been fully realised and offers the best opportunity to achieve further efficiency gains. We recommend that where pre-existing alliances have proved successful, and there is local support police forces should be allowed to merge. (Paragraph 17)

4.  When the National Crime Agency was created, it was an opportunity for a new organisation to shake off the practices of its predecessor, and to show improved performance under a new regime. We welcome the work done by Keith Bristow in leading the National Crime Agency - in particular the way he has been open and transparent with the Committee. However, we are not seeing the level of performance we would expect. The NCA, like SOCA before them, is an organisation that can claw back assets from those involved in criminal activity. However, like SOCA it is not recovering assets in sufficient volume to justify a budget of half a billion. The NCA must improve drastically in this area so that the returns achieved equate to the resources that are made available to it. Furthermore, the NCA needs to produce and make public benchmarks whereby its performance can be assessed. Parliament needs to be able to hold the NCA to account for its performance so that there is ongoing improvement. (Paragraph 20)

5.  The Committee did initially register concern about the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) coming under the control of this organisation, however generally the NCA has proved to be a more effective body than the other new organisations. The most significant remaining concern the Committee has is regarding the intelligence received from Toronto Police before CEOP came under the NCA upon which no action was taken. The NCA must address the backlog of abuse inquiry cases which it inherited from CEOP with the greatest of urgency. (Paragraph 21)

The College of Policing in the first two years

6.  The creation of a Professional Body for policing was a great idea that could have been the Home Secretary's legacy of her five years in office. It has a vision and purpose, and has delivered good work on guidance and standards. However, the foundations on which the College of Policing was built were not as firm as they should have been. For example, the Chair did not have the opportunity to appoint the Board, which has since had to be reconstituted, and the College has not been able to communicate directly with its members. As a consequence of having to overcome these initial hurdles, the College is not achieving the outcomes that it should be. There is much to be done for the College to become the type of institution that we originally hoped it would be, however it does look like it will have the most lasting effect of all these new organisations. (Paragraph 24)

7.  It is absurd that the College could have been created as a professional body without direct access to its potential members. For the past two years, to communicate directly with those working in policing, such as sending them the first professional Code of Ethics, has required the permission and co-operation of police forces. It is therefore no surprise that police members are not aware of the College. From April there will be a membership platform which will allow the College to initiate a direct line of contact with members. The College must now grasp this opportunity to engage directly with frontline officers. (Paragraph 27)

8.  We are glad that the College accepted our previous recommendation and has reviewed the constitution of its Board. We recommend that the Home Secretary act quickly to implement the Board's proposals for a change in its composition. We hope that this will engender a more collegiate working atmosphere, and alleviate the tension between the Board members' roles as directors, and as representativeness of the organisations that nominated them. However, we remain of the view that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, as the highest ranking officer in the land and the person responsible for almost a quarter of British police officers, should also be a member of the Board. (Paragraph 34)

9.  The ethnic composition of the Board is lamentable, and no progress has been made. Policing organisations must recognise that true representation of the communities they serve is critical for public acceptance, and the contribution of knowledge of communities and different mind-sets can bring real operational advantages as well as everyday improvements in relations with the public. The College of Policing, as the newly created flagship professional body, should have been setting an example to all other police organisations. . We urge the College to seize the opportunity provided by the appointment of a new independent non-executive director to address this. In addition, whenever a position becomes available on the Board, the College must make appointments that allow its composition to reflect the population as a whole, as should be the case in all public bodies. (Paragraph 35)

10.  We recognise that on-line training often represents better value for money than face-to-face sessions and acknowledge the widespread praise for the quality of the College's on-line materials. However, it is important to ensure that officers still have time to complete the necessary training during paid, working hours and we recommend that, if on-line training is to become the norm, then some national agreement should be reached between the College, forces and the staff associations about the annual amount of rostered time that officers can expect to be available for learning and development. The lack of face-to-face training will leave officers ill-equipped to deal with a growing and persistent threat, particularly with regard to their ability to engage with communities. (Paragraph 42)

11.  The College, and forces, should not lose sight of the value of face-to-face training in groups. Interpersonal skills are paramount in policing and officers regularly have to deal with highly challenging situations where they rely entirely on their people skills. These are not skills than can easily be developed online. (Paragraph 43)

Code of Ethics

12.  We welcome the introduction of the Policing Code of Ethics, which must now be embedded across the country. We recommend that the policing principles set out in the Code are integrated into the training outcomes it sets, so that they are underpinned repeatedly over the course of a police officer's career. The Code of Ethics needs to be in the DNA of police officers, so a policing Hippocratic Oath is required. We recommend that everybody who is bound by the Code should be required to acknowledge it formally by signing a copy of the Code and swearing an oath to the Queen. For new police constables, a reference to the Code could be incorporated into the declaration they make when they are attested (though this would require a change to the law). (Paragraph 48)

13.  We recommend that the Code of Ethics also incorporate the disciplinary code. It has been argued that if someone breaks the Code of Ethics, they will also have broken a separate disciplinary measure; we believe that this link should be explicit. We recommend that the College of Policing follows the example of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and incorporates the policing discipline code into the Code of Ethics, so that if it is breached this automatically triggers an investigation. (Paragraph 49)


14.  We welcome the work that the College of Policing has undertaken to generate income other than from taxpayers' money. During our visits overseas, we have met former UK police officers who provide training to international forces. The brand of British policing is regarded as the best in the world, and we welcome the work the College have done internationally to promote British policing and enhance this reputation. However, their projected budget suggests that growth in income generation is going to slow. If the College wants to attain chartered status and become independent it must do more to find additional sources of income. (Paragraph 59)

15.  One additional source of income will be the premium membership package. We agree with the position taken by the College in distinguishing between services that should be free and those that should be charged for. It is right that where police officers require a service to fulfil their role, they should not be charged for this. However, if it is a service that will benefit their personal career development, then a charge is reasonable. We further welcome the fact that standard membership will be provided at no cost to police officers for a minimum of three years and for as long as it is possible to do so. (Paragraph 60)

Role in recruitment to the profession

16.  We welcome the clarification from the College of Policing that individuals with a criminal conviction cannot become police officers, and that the rules are not changing. Those who join the police should be beyond reproach, and standards must be kept at the highest level to maintain, and improve public confidence. (Paragraph 67)

17.  We acknowledge the concerns raised by Sir Hugh Orde with regard to the direct entry scheme. However, the figures we have seen shows that only 1.5% of applicants to the direct entry programme, and 2.3% of applicants to the fast track programme have been successful. This suggests that there is a high bar to entry, whereby only the very best talent will be able to achieve this rapid promotion. (Paragraph 71)

18.  We remain of the view that cost of obtaining the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing, which in some police force areas is a pre-entry requirement, is putting off talented and diverse recruits. This type of pre-recruitment qualification, which may be prohibitively expensive for some candidates, may stifle diversity. Means-tested support, such the bursary arrangements set up by Chief Constable Sara Thornton, QPM, between Thames Valley Police and local universities, should be in place to ensure that the best candidates are not lost because of financial barriers. (Paragraph 74)

19.  We are concerned about the standards that are set by the providers of the Certificate. It cannot be right that one provider has a 100% success rate for the qualification. The Certificate has the potential to deliver a new set of standards for recruits, but to do so it needs to be a trusted qualification. We welcome the College's decision to commence a full implementation review of the Certificate, in particular with regard to the approval of providers. (Paragraph 75)

20.  Once the College's review of the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing is complete, we recommend that the College takes a stronger role in overseeing the training and awarding of this certificate. In its current disjointed state with seemingly different standards across providers, we cannot ensure that certificates provided are of the same quality throughout the UK. (Paragraph 76)

A body of knowledge

21.  The creation of the College of Policing is an opportunity to link the world's best universities with the world's best police service. The College should work directly with universities, and also encourage local forces to do likewise. Additionally, the key role for the College will be to bring together the best research, the best evidence, the best experience and knowledge, and disseminate that through signposting and guidance to benefit every police officer. For some considerable time there has been an Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University whose research and findings have been widely recognised. (Paragraph 81)

The National Police Chief's Council

22.  We welcome the creation of the National Police Chiefs' Council, and in particular the clear distinction between their function, which is to co-ordinate operational policing, and that of the College, which is responsible for policy-making and best practice. This should help to aspects of confusion in recent years when both the College of Policing and ACPO have issued guidance on the same topic. (Paragraph 85)


23.  Since 2010 the Home Secretary has set out an ambitious plan for the new landscape of policing, with some organisations being abolished and others created and with functions being reallocated. Her aim was to declutter the landscape and to ensure that policing was able to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We consider that she was right to embark on this journey. It is too early to say if all the changes meet this test, especially as the changes have been initiated during a period of austerity. Furthermore, it is far from clear that if we have been left with fewer organisations. We hope that it will be a priority for our successor Committee to monitor and evaluate this development. (Paragraph 86)

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© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 17 February 2015