Opinion Former Article

Police Superintendents' respond to Party manifestos and leaders' debate

Speaking after the leaders' debate, Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett, President of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, said

'I am pleased that the Party manifestos each express a commitment to maintaining front line policing and that they value Neighbourhood Policing. The Superintendents' Association shares the desire that each party expresses to reducing bureaucracy and making the wider criminal justice system more effective. However, the manifestos largely fail to recognise the complexity of policing beyond visible patrol and we look for further evidence during the Election campaign that the Parties will recognise the policing mission has expanded over recent years - for example to deal with rape and domestic violence, online child protection, the monitoring of registered sex offenders and the ever present threat of international terrorism and serious and organised crime. All these services are vital but not always visible to the public.

'The first leaders' debate was an ideal opportunity for the leaders to acknowledge the valuable and often courageous contribution that our police officers make daily 24/7 to protecting and serving our communities. Sadly, they did not.

'Two common themes running across all three manifestos is how vitally important it is in the current economic climate to deliver more for less, and the sense that policing needs to be more accountable at the local level. We fully recognise and understand these arguments. The police alone amongst front line public services are the most accountable and accessible to the communities they serve, and our members as senior officers regularly meet with community leaders and locally elected representatives to discuss and agree local policing priorities. We look forward to working with the new Government to contribute to the detailed development of their ideas.

'Our policing is admired worldwide, we police with and on behalf of the communities we serve, overwhelmingly unarmed and with consent. Our style of policing has a strong tradition of operational independence and police officers are servants of the Crown and answerable to the law, extensively inspected and scrutinised by external bodies.

'If we are to improve performance and public confidence in the difficult financial circumstances set and against the increased demand for visibility and accountability, it is vital that our policing arrangements have full cross Party support. It is almost 50 years since the last fundamental review of policing and in the same way as we have had a Strategic Defence review, I urge the three Party leaders to commit to a Strategic Review of how policing is structured, delivered, financed and governed as a matter of priority - whoever should form the next Government.'

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