To mark the Police Foundation’s 40th birthday, our Chair Sir Bill Jeffrey reflects on the organisation’s beginnings and looks ahead to our plans for the future.
In the late 1970s, former policing Minister John Harris (the late Lord Harris of Greenwich) and a number of others with an interest in policing – including our current Vice Chair, Sir John Wheeler – identified the need for an independent institution that would conduct high quality research on policing in the UK and contribute thoughtfully to policy debate.
The Police Foundation was formed in 1979. 40 years later it is an established and influential feature of the policing landscape, the UK’s leading think tank on policing, widely respected for the quality of its research and the independence and thought-provoking nature of its commentary. The Foundation’s strength has always lain in the quality of its small staff; the fact that its work is grounded in evidence rather than assertion or supposition; and its sitting, in effect, in the space between the police service, those in government and locally to whom the service is accountable, and academia. It benefits from the input of all three; but is beholden to none.
In recent years, the Foundation has done ground-breaking work on police effectiveness, focusing increasingly on the new challenges facing the police and how the service can adjust to deal with them. Current projects include a study of the police response to online abuse of vulnerable children and research into public attitudes to police priorities. In the coming year, we hope also to instigate a major review of the strategic direction of the police service, as it responds to changes in the nature of crime, financial pressures and public expectations.
The Foundation’s 40th anniversary was marked at the annual John Harris Memorial Lecture, given on 25 June by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. But the Trustees and I felt that the occasion was also an opportunity to reach out to the wide group of people who care about the quality and effectiveness of policing and are supportive of the Foundation’s work, but whom we have not hitherto looked to for financial support. Over the years, the Foundation has been funded by a combination of grants for individual projects and donations by a relatively small number of generous benefactors. Under an energetic Director, we are still good at generating successful project proposals for funding by research institutes and others; but like many other small charities, we are finding it harder to attract the individual donations that help to support core costs.
Hence this appeal. I have felt for a while that there are a substantial number of people in and around the world of policing and criminal justice who have a stake in the Foundation, and value its contribution and its independence in an increasingly politicised environment. For 40 years the Police Foundation has produced trusted, impartial research to support better policing and create a safer society. Now we’re asking for your support to raise £40,000 within a year.
With crime rapidly evolving our mission is more important today than ever. Will you help us by supporting our work?