A think tank has called for a series of radical reforms to how British police forces recruit, train and manage officers and other employees.
In its ‘What do we want from the next Prime Minister?’ report on crime and policing, the Policy Exchange claims British policing has “lost its way” and that forces need to get “back to basics” on fighting crime.
It adds that “acts that may be intended as a show of solidarity against discriminatiuon, such as ‘taking the knee’… can be easily interpreted by others as an expression of a partisan political view” that could reduce the public’s confidence in the police.
The report acknowledges that despite three years of intense recruitment through the Police Uplift Programme, there are still fewer police officers in England and Wales now than there were 12 years ago.
There are now 235 police officers per 100,000 people compared to 264 in 2011 – a real terms reduction in the number of police officers over the decade of 11%, according to its analysis of Home Office data.
One of its key recommendations is that the College of Policing be replaced by a national police leadership academy that would set a “singular doctrine of leadership” within policing that would raise the public’s confidence in officers after multiple accusations of misconduct and sackings due to complaints of harassment and sexism within their ranks.
Reforms to officer and leadership training would form part of a wider independent review into initial police training in England and Wales, it said.
At senior level, regulations should be amended to mandate the end of a “closed shop” approach to promote officers.
All appointments to chief police officer, superintendent and inspector ranks should be open to external and rejoiner applicants, it advises, and at least a quarter of these appointments should be made to external applicants or returners.
“The efforts to bring talented individuals with leadership experience gained outside policing into the senior ranks of policing have almost entirely failed to have any impact on the pool of chief officers available to lead police forces,” the report found.
It added that the College of Policing had “failed to successfully introduce what are, in reality, relatively minor changes to police leadership and workforce development” and this meant it was now up to the government to intervene.
It also advocates that the Home Office makes plans to recruit a new “corps” of data scientists, programmers and hackers to tackle the threat from online crime.
“This recruitment programme should be commenced at the earliest opportunity, in addition to the uniformed officers currently being recruited under the government’s existing Police Uplift Programme,” it added.
The report’s author is David Spencer, a former Metropolitan Police officer and head of Policy Exchange’s Crime and Justice department.