Sir Michael Barber to head major review of the police service

Today the Police Foundation launches the first independent and comprehensive review of policing for many years. The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales aims to have a similar impact to the 1962 Royal Commission that laid the basis for today’s police service.

The Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales will be chaired by Sir Michael Barber, Chair of the Office for Students and former head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit. The Review will be carried out by the Police Foundation, the UK’s independent policing think tank.

The Review will look at how crime, fear of crime and other threats to public safety are changing and assess the ability of policing to respond. It aims to set a long term strategic direction for the police service so that it is better able to tackle a crime landscape that is being transformed by new technology and wider social change.

This far-reaching review will set out substantial recommendations for a modern police service capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century. The Review will consider:

How crime and the wider demands on the police are changing and the implications of these changes for the police service;

What the police mission should be, looking in particular at the public’s expectations of the police;

The capabilities the police service needs to achieve this mission, including its use of technology;

What the police officer of the future should look like, looking at their role and responsibilities, skills and knowledge and career pathways;

How the police service should be structured and held to account locally, regionally and nationally;

How the police should work with other sectors such as health, local government and schools to deal with complex social problems;

How much funding the police service requires and how this should be allocated to different parts of the country.

The Review will focus on policing in England and Wales, but will look to learn lessons from the rest of the UK and from the best police agencies internationally.

The Police Foundation’s Director Rick Muir said:

“It is the right time to take a strategic look at the future of policing in England and Wales. The government is rightly focused on the immediate resource pressures the police face, including officer numbers, but we also need to think about the long term. Crime has been transformed by new technology, with half of all crime now being cybercrime and wider social change means the police are spending less time dealing with theft and burglary and more time investigating sexual crime and responding to mental health incidents.

“The Review will first map out these changes in the nature of the challenges facing the police and then go on to ask what needs to be done to respond. We will ask what we, the public, want from the police, explore what skills and knowledge police officers will need in the future and look at the way the police service is organised and held to account.”

Sir Michael Barber said:

“The British police service is rightly highly regarded around the world. The demands made on it are constantly changing. Developments such as cybercrime, serious and organised crime, modern slavery, gang-related crime and big increases in the reporting of sexual crime all pose new challenges. In this context, it makes sense to undertake a strategic review and to establish firm foundations for the police service into the middle of the 21st century and beyond. I look forward to working with all interested stakeholders, not least police officers themselves in taking forward this work.”

Sir Mark Sedwill, the Cabinet Secretary said:

“Crime is changing and so too must our response to it. In that context I welcome the launch of the Police Foundation’s Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales and look forward to engaging with Sir Michael and his colleagues as they take forward this work over the next two years.”

Martin Hewitt QPM, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said:

“I welcome this independent review. In the last decade, the policing environment has changed profoundly in many ways and the policing mission has expanded in both volume and complexity. This has taken place against a backdrop of diminishing resources. As we enter a period of growth it is timely to take an objective and rigorous look at the role that the police play in policing, and how we can most effectively keep the public safe.”

Lynne Owens, Director General of the National Crime Agency, said:

“I welcome the Police Foundation’s independent review looking at the long term direction of policing. The NCA’s Strategic Assessments continue to highlight the changing and growing threats from serious and organised crime, including cyber, CSAE and illicit finance. It is the right time to assess what this means for capabilities across policing at local, regional and national level, so we are in the best position as a system to protect the public.”

Sir Thomas Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary said:

“A comprehensive review of policing is overdue. The Police Foundation is an excellent organisation to lead such a review, and I am confident its conclusions will be of enormous authority and value.”

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, College of Policing CEO, said:

“Today’s announcement of a strategic review will be supported with evidence from the College. The nature of demand for policing services is changing rapidly and this review will have an important place in determining what policing needs to focus on now to be best prepared to meet future challenges.”

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales said:

“An independent and wide-reaching review into policing is long overdue and something I support. A holistic, independent assessment of what society expects from its police service is something we have been calling for some time and I am pleased to back Sir Michael and his team. They must shine a light into every corner of policing and ask the questions that need to be asked. My colleagues are facing unprecedented demand as they deal with criminality increasing in terms of volume and complexity as well as being expected to deal with more and more non-crime related incidents, picking up the pieces as other public services struggle to cope.

“In order for policing to be able to best serve the public, and to meet the demands the future will bring, society must decide what they want their police to do. We simply can’t continue being all things to all people.

“The Police Federation look forward to contributing to this review and I encourage everyone – the public, police officers, and politicians – to do the same to ensure this review is fully able to evaluate what is needed to enable our police service to be the very best it can be now – and in the future.”

Paul Griffiths, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association said:

“We have consistently called for an independent review of the Police Service, as it is abundantly clear that the Service in its current form, is unable to deliver to the expectations of the public. We therefore welcome the news that this important work will now take place.

“Our members are experienced, senior operational leaders with a passion for policing, and we will do all we can to contribute our years of evidence and learning towards the review. I hope that this important work will also play an integral part of the wider reform agenda, which must take account of the entire policing landscape.”

Richard Hobbs, lead Partner for Policing at Deloitte said:

“UK policing is under the microscope. A rise in serious violence and falling detection rates in some parts of the country have brought political focus onto the resilience of a model of policing that has long been the envy of the world. Rising demand and budget restraints have forced UK Police forces to evolve but questions remain as to whether policing has yet fully adapted to address the profound and continuing shifts in patterns of crime, society, policy and technology. Building on our work at a local, regional and national level, and our Policing 4.0 report, we are delighted to be able to support this timely and critical review.”

For more information contact Rick Muir, Director of the Police Foundation – rick.muir@police-foundation.org.uk 020 3752 5630.