Police commission: Neighbourhood policing under threat

November 24, 2013 2:16 AM

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Police commission: Neighbourhood policing under threat

Neighbourhood policing is under threat in England and Wales as police "retreat to a discredited reactive approach", a report is to say.

The Independent Police Commission will say local policing - the "building block of fair and effective policing" - is disappearing and "must be saved".

The commission, which will publish its report on Monday, was set up by Labour in 2011 under former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens.

The report will say "bobbies on the beat are disappearing and neighbourhood policing must be saved".

According to the commission, figures from the House of Commons Library show there were 10,000 fewer frontline officers in England and Wales in 2013 than in 2010 - a drop of 8.3%.

Lord Stevens, the Met Commissioner who introduced neighbourhood policing into London, said every local area should be given a guaranteed level of neighbourhood policing.

"In the course of our two-year independent commission on the future of policing, we have seen that neighbourhood policing is under threat and the police are at risk of retreating into a discredited reactive model," he wrote.

"The commission is clear that neighbourhood policing is the bedrock on which the service must be built."

Lord Stevens also condemned the government's police reform programme as "confused", "fragmented" and "unfocused".

The report will call for "a set of national minimum standards of police service which everyone should be entitled to receive" and which police forces "must deliver".

"The neighbourhood remains the key building block of fair and effective policing and it is vital that visible, locally responsive policing is protected in times of fiscal constraint," it will say.

The report will recommend that the law should be changed "to make clear that the purpose of policing is to promote public safety and community wellbeing, thereby preventing crime as well as reacting to crime".

According to the commission, this was achieved in the legislation creating a single national police force for Scotland.

The report will call for stronger links between the police and other organisations, including giving neighbourhoods and councils more say over local police priorities.

Labour announced the review at its 2011 party conference, saying it was time for a "serious vision".

Crossbench peer Lord Stevens stressed the commission, which included police figures, academics and judges, would be non-political.

Nick Herbert, then the policing minister, said Labour's decision to establish an inquiry was "an abdication of any kind of political leadership" and the government had a "coherent package of reforms".

The overall structure of the police service was last examined by a royal commission in 1962.

Lord Stevens was the head of the Metropolitan Police between 2000 and 2005.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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