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Policing told to ?destroy myth not interested in change? over how to finance service in future

But Home Office minister says his department should take ?fair share? of blame
Published - 01/11/2018 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

Embattled policing leaders have been urged to alter their narrative and tell a positive story to win over public support for future funding to fix a “broken model”.

Policing Minister Nick Hurd called on police chiefs and crime commissioners to “destroy a myth” that the service is “not interested in change” before going on to praise forces for having already managed and made “huge” strides in achievement terms.

His mixture of bouquets and brickbats came as the government spokesman admitted next year’s comprehensive spending review presented a “problem that needs sorting”, accepting the Home Office should take its “fair share of the blame” in the settlement saga.

But he spelled out to delegates at the annual National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster today it was critical to show that the idea policing is the unreformed public service – is “dead and buried”.

Mr Hurd said it was not enough to just to set out a vision but “clear action plans” were needed to present a positive narrative that the “British public will get”.

He added: “It is a fact of life. I recognise how much change you are managing, and you are achieving a huge amount of change.

“But we have to do more. On my watch we want to be more proactive.”

Nottinghamshire PCC Paddy Tipping set the tone for the CSR debate, claiming “everyone accepts the present funding model is broken” before informing the central London conference that the combined efforts of police chiefs and the Home Office were on their third attempt in the past decade to solve the financial conundrum.

He promised the review would be completed by autumn next year, with implementation in 2021/22.

The delegates were given an insight into the focus of the spending review submission and warned that policing must make a robust, evidence-based, case for resourcing the service.

Reducing demand across law enforcement and raising capability in order to increase efficiency and productivity are key indicators to success, the conference heard.

Mr Hurd added: “I know this a problem. We are working intensely to find a solution.

“I want to be very clear what I want to achieve. We must give room and space to capacity to meet demand.

“If we fall short it will not be for a lack of effort.”

He called for a “different approach” via the digital route and was quick to point out that if policing had designed a service for the 21st century, it would not have started “where we are now”.

But he stressed: “Ultimately, if you want more money in policing, it is taxpayer that will have to pay.

NPCC chairman Sara Thornton asked if there might have been “too much change” in the process to date. But she added the problem appeared to be “nobody with any authority to say ‘go’ or ‘no-go’”.

Chief Constable Dave Thompson, NPCC national lead for finance, said the 2017 settlement had not fixed the challenges the service faces.

But looking ahead to the 2019/20 review, he added: “I have never seen such abject concerns over what will happen in this period.”

A number of things are making police forces busier than they need to be, he said. Crime recording standards are creating a level of bureaucracy that needs reviewing while traditional crime is not getting the service it needs.

He admitted that it was painful to be talking the way policing does to the public these days – and a bad plan to appear to have a “can’t do” attitude.

The pensions contribution furore – with, out of the blue, policing having to find the equivalent of funding for the fourth largest force in England and Wales – “can derail and place number of forces at risk”, he said. “The tank is running on empty for some of them.

APCC lead for finance Roger Hirst, who chaired the funding debate, said it was imperative, that with policing finding itself competing with other public services such as the NHS, the message of “what we can do to improve people’s lives and what difference we can make” gets through.

He added: “We need to identify the people who need help. We simply cannot say the money needs to go somewhere else. We need some of it for ourselves.”

On pensions he likened the issue to “the crocodile in the next canoe” which the policing minister said he would be “happy to whack with a little help from my friends.”

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