25 November 2013: Speech as the Independent Police Commission report to Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary said:
Can I join Ed in thanking Lord Stevens and everyone on the Commission.
ROYAL COMMISSION + VISION
There is no doubt this has been as extensive, and drawn on at least as much expertise, analysis and consultation as the last Royal Commission over fifty years ago.
We asked Lord Stevens to set up this Commission two years ago because we believed we needed a positive vision of policing for the 21st century. A vision based on the best evidence and expertise, one that that could command wide support and deal with the serious challenges that policing faces.
This is an unusual position for the Opposition to be in, to have commissioned something so substantial without the power of Government.
But it shows the impressive leadership of Lord Stevens and also how much people believe that a Royal Commission was needed that so many people have been prepared to give their time for free to contribute to this report.
We agree with the Commission's diagnosis of the challenges facing policing.
We know that at its best British policing remains the envy of the world – setting standards across Europe, training the best and brightest of police forces across the globe.
But we also know there are growing challenges, as Lord Stevens has set out – from current reforms and fragmentation which are making things harder, individual cases where policing has gone wrong, from Hillsborough to plebgate which are undermining public confidence, changing patterns of crime, new technology, low morale at a time when we need police officers to go the extra mile. And of course
Coping with the scale of cuts policing has had to face.
No one should have any doubt after reading this report. British policing cannot continue on its current course without serious problems ahead. (Current government policy are not adequate to address these concerns)
Major reforms are needed to renew British policing for the 21st century
This is a wide ranging report with 37 recommendations - some which include options to choose between, and others which recommend further work. The Commission is independent. But we welcome the work they have done and we will now take forward and expect to implement the vast majority of these recommendations. We will consult widely on them first through regional events starting before Christmas led by Jack Dromey our Shadow Policing Minister before we set out details for our manifesto. And we will need to ensure that measures for our manifesto are fully funded.
So let me briefly say a little more about our approach to some of the key areas.
As Ed has said, we fundamentally believe that policing should be rooted in local communities and we endorse the Commission’s emphasis on neighbourhood policing and the wider social justice purpose of policing.
We agree too with the importance of local accountability, building stronger partnerships and greater democratic accountability at a more local level. Policing – like all public services – is most effective if it reflects the views and voices of those it needs to serve.
On force governance the Stevens Commission has set out three options to replace the current model of police and crime commissioners. We made clear from the start that reforms would be needed to Police and Crime Commissioners. Labour PCCs have been working hard to make the best of the current system in the meantime and deliver valuable work. But the system itself is flawed and the question now is not whether to reform but how to reform. So we will consult now on options for reform.
We also believe in the importance of effective partnerships.
At a time when all public services face financial pressures, working in partnership and collaboration matters more than ever and are the best way to generate efficiencies and savings too. Yet it is a serious concern that too many services are looking inwards instead of outwards.
That also includes looking at the structures and partnerships between forces where the Commission also sets out 3 options for reform. Our preference is for a voluntary and collaborative approach involving local communities and we also want to see more work done on savings that can be made to plough back into policing. We will not support a national force as we believe that would be too large, too centralised and the wrong approach.
Perhaps the most timely set of recommendations is around standards and professionalism.
As we know, British policing at its best is the envy of the world. But when policing goes wrong it causes huge injustice, undermines confidence in policing and law and order and casts a long shadow over the vital work officers do. That’s why problems need to be dealt with fast and effectively.
Currently the system fails to do that. As we have seen most recently in the response to plebgate the system is opaque, the body in charge of pursuing misconduct isn't strong enough, the remedies aren't clear, too often in serious cases the police still end up investigating themselves and the whole system takes far too long.
So we welcome these substantial reforms to value and develop the professionalism of officers and staff who work hard every day often showing great bravery to keep us safe. The College of Policing should indeed be strengthened and extended.
And we also welcome the much stronger measures to deal swiftly with problems, to ensure police officers found guilty of serious misconduct can be struck off - just as professionals are in other fields. We welcome much stronger powers of investigation and inspection with continual mechanisms for improvement. We have argued for some time that the IPCC should be replaced by a stronger body, and believe the Commission’s proposals for bringing together the work done by the IPCC and HMIC provide a valuable way to deal with both the gaps and the duplication in the current system and better focus resources on standards.
We also welcome the recognition that there should be limits on private contracts in the interests of public confidence. We do not believe that private companies should be patrolling public streets.
And finally we welcome the work the Commission has done looking at the challenges for the future – and we welcome their emphasis on new technology, proposals for addressing growing cybercrime and making the police more efficient.
POLICING AND PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM
We depend on our public services, and none more than the service of last resort, those who turn out when everything else fails, our police.
That is why it is so important to make sure our police, like all our public services can meet the challenges of the 21st century.
That is why we took the unusual step to set up the independent commission, to mirror the idea of the Royal Commission even from opposition.
For Labour, our approach to public sector reform means we are determined to draw on the best expertise, the widest range of voices, the most powerful evidence, to deliver clear practical reforms for the future.
It means a strong emphasis on partnership, value for money, professionalism and raising standards. And it means most importantly services being focused on those they need to serve – the communities and victims for whom policing matters so much.
We need a positive vision for policing for the future. And practical policies based on evidence to deliver it. And just as the British tradition is policing by consent, we know that reforms will be most effective if we can build a broad consensus even where decisions will be difficult.
That is what I believe Lord Stevens and this Commission have delivered. Now it is up to us to take it forward.