David Lloyd, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, launched an impassioned defence of local policing in his third annual lecture held at the University of Hertfordshire on Tuesday (16th June). A video of the lecture is available at: https://youtu.be/kxIx6VmKbXU
At a time when many forces are deciding to centralise policing teams in order to meet the funding challenge, Commissioner Lloyd rejected this strategy as “short-sighted” and urged police leaders up and down the country not to overlook this core purpose of policing.
He spoke to an audience of more than 200 people, including representatives from police, councils, charities and other partner organisations in Hertfordshire, inside the University’s The Weston Auditorium.
He said: “As a response to grant reductions many forces are asking the question about whether having a neighbourhood policing model is sustainable. Most forces across the country, currently 30 of the 43 forces, are changing their models, with some frankly abandoning neighbourhood policing, saying that all interactions with citizens can be online. This is nonsense.
“Clearly the police are not alone in having difficult choices to make – many public bodies are cutting back to ‘core’ activities, but this is really short-sighted. Less upstream and preventative working leads to the clear outcome that frontline services will be overwhelmed by demand. Of course it is always easier to characterise these services as ‘nice to have’, and the impact of taking them away will not be felt immediately, but as sure as night follows day cuts to chronic services will mean busier acute services.”
Cutting back on local policing teams or denigrating their work by giving them additional responsibilities, he said will inevitably lead to greater costs later on when smaller problems are left unattended and inevitably escalate into greater ones, which are more expensive to deal with. Commissioner Lloyd strongly defended these teams, including use of Police Community Support Officers, as helping to build confidence, trust and reassurance in communities, which in turn helps prevent crime.
Echoing some of the key themes from his updated Police and Crime Plan Everybody’s Business 2015-2020, which was also published on the night, Commissioner Lloyd stated new and innovative ways of policing were required to balance cuts in funding with the need to maintain public confidence in policing.
Savings, he said, should be made through collaboration with other forces and other public and private sector organisations and following the model of “forward-looking successful business organisations” to maximise savings opportunities while also delivering customer care.
He said: “They would argue that the obvious answer is to merge police forces; but the solution has to be more comprehensive than that. Of course in many ways merging police forces would be easier, but firstly in the context of a £9billion spend in Hertfordshire, the police’s £195million is pretty small beer and more importantly doing it would erode the very essence of localism and go against what residents tell me matters to them, and what the police tell me is the best way to cut crime.”
He added: “We have to get smarter with how we work with public services to provide better coordinated services and sustainable outcomes for the individual, the family and the community. For me ‘Collaboration’ is not just about working more with other police forces, although that is a major part of it, but it goes much further.
“It is about working in the emergency services ‘blue light sector’ too and of course further upstream in the public sector – with the county council, with district councils, with housing associations, with health and clearly with the private sector too. Bluntly it is about bringing the public sector back together both because it is more efficient and more importantly because that is the only way that the end-user or customer (depending on your viewpoint) is put at the heart of what we do.”
If anyone wishes to contact the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner they can email: firstname.lastname@example.org telephone 01707 806100 or write to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, Harpenden Police Station, 15 Vaughan Road, Hertfordshire, AL5 4GZ.
You can also follow the Commissioner on Twitter @HertsPCC and find out more on his Facebook page: HertsPCC.