PCC addresses Police Superintendents’ Association National conference


Sussex PCC Katy Bourne addressed the Police Superintendents’ Association National conference in Stratford-on-Avon today, sharing a platform with NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt where she outlined her role on the new National Policing Board which is overseeing the planned recruitment of 20k police officers.

Mrs Bourne spoke about implementing the recommendations of the Front Line Review and the need for a whole-systems approach to the Criminal Justice System to improve justice outcomes for victims. You can read her full speech below. 

Last week the Chancellor confirmed that there would be more money to recruit 20,000 more police officers, with a target of 2000 more by next March.
£750 million will be available in 2020-2021 and an extra £44million has been provided for the current year.

I’m sure that as supervisors of busy teams of officers, you will all welcome this uplift, on top of the recruitment that each of your forces is already well embarked on.

This is great news for the communities you serve, its great news for you and your colleagues and it’s a great opportunity for anybody wanting a fulfilling and challenging career.

As you may know, in July I was elected to be Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners for the year ahead, and soon afterwards, I was asked to represent PCCs on the new National Policing Board established by the new Home Secretary and Prime Minister.

These two positions give me the platform to represent the range of PCCs views and experiences and help my colleagues on the Board in this unprecedented recruitment drive.

Although there may be differences of political opinion, there is cross-party support for investing in more police officers after a long period in which the state of public finances meant forces held back.

I will be ensuring that the funding for the Uplift is forthcoming and is sustained to deliver 20,000 extra officers.

The media coverage of officer recruitment has put law and order issues in the spotlight, as has the Brexit debate and fears of civil unrest if there are transport and supply disruptions or if reality doesn’t meet expectations.

I know that UK police forces and other agencies have long been planning for a variety of scenarios and I want to thank you for your patience and professionalism in maintaining our preparations in the face of what appears to be a somewhat elastic timeline.

Despite all the combative rhetoric I can assure you that the ministers and officials I talk to appreciate the quiet but thorough planning that our police service applies to major events- even if some of them never happen.

In challenging and uncertain times, the Peelian Policing Principles you abide by are fundamentally important.

The death of PC Andrew Harper has made the whole policing family pause for thought, to acknowledge the loss of a brave colleague, the loss of a husband, and a son and friend. It has also quite rightly raised questions about the safety of officers and how we deal with those who attack and harm them.

You may have seen what I said three weeks ago, and I am happy to repeat it today…

…if you intentionally attack and harm a police officer you should face the toughest possible sanction. .…no ifs, no buts.

As the recently elected Chair of the APCC, my five key areas for the APCC for the year ahead are:
• Supporting our people-police officers and staff
• Building public confidence and their consent to be policed
• Channelling Innovation: ensuring an agile response to crime threats and trends
• Developing a whole-systems approach to the CJS
• And……remembering we work for the public

I certainly don’t under-estimate the scale of command responsibilities that you as Superintendents face. You may well have a geographic division or operational command; you will have PACE reviews; disciplinary hearings; Gold Command duties; bespoke investigations as well as being asked to supervise large projects.

I come from a family with a proud policing background. My Grandfather was the Superintendent for Petworth, a little town in rural West Sussex and he would have been astonished at the breadth of responsibilities modern Superintendents bear.

So I fully understand that you haven’t all come to Stratford for a culture top up…you’re here to talk about what needs improving and changing.

Officer safety and workloads were highlighted as major concerns in the Front Line review of Policing. In my role as Chair of the APCC I have made it clear that we should look closely at the recommendations and not miss an opportunity to show that we understand the frustration and pressure of day to day police experiences and to follow that up with real action.

We should be part of the listening process that turns frontline ideas into best practice and we need to champion wellbeing and mental health.

Last week we saw the publication of HMICFRS’s Leading Lights report and it was not a ringing endorsement of the current training and selection process for Chief Officers.

At a time when we are back in recruiting mode- bringing in more officers more quickly than ever before, it’s essential we have the leadership at the top that can cope with rising and evolving crime types; increasingly confused and demanding public expectation and the challenges of policing in the digital age.

More police officers undoubtedly relieves some of the pressures that your teams are facing, but without appropriate strategic direction we risk wasting opportunities and resources.

All of you hold absolutely key roles in your police forces. You are business managers and key decision makers and for some newly promoted Superintendents it can be an uncomfortable move to leave your specialisms behind as you have to move up to supervise your colleagues.

We should support intelligent supervision that provides guidance without stifling discretion, and we need to be brave about the sort of senior police leadership that inspires officers, boosts morale and delivers results.

I see the APCC engaging much more closely and more often with you, with the NPCC, with the Police Federation and Staff Associations and College of Policing in a collegiate approach to problem solving and how we approach Government.

I will be interested to hear how the College of Policing responds to the HMICFRS recommendations on the Strategic Command Course and how we can increase diversity in applicants for senior roles.

We have all seen the challenges to PCCs issued by former and serving senior officers. I want the APCC to be able to demonstrate the value of PCCs in reconnecting the public with police.

The scale of our listening and engagement with local communities is in a different universe to our Police Authority predecessors. We know what worries people and we know what they want because they tell us and we in turn, tell our Chief Constables.

All PCCs take our engagement seriously and some of us have commissioned specific listening exercises with particular age groups and minority groups. What has surprised me is that whilst PCCs and police forces are measuring public satisfaction following interactions with police, we are not all measuring or understanding public confidence and what influences it.

As police officers who have had regular face to face meetings with hostile and disappointed communities, YOU know instinctively what makes local people more or less confident…and often it’s visible policing or contacting the police and the speed of police response-if one is dispatched.

Whilst we can anticipate that current recruitment based on increased precept levels and the 20k uplift will dramatically increase a visible policing presence and contact and response capacity, you and I know that demand will still increase exponentially and we will need to rethink resource allocation and perhaps even the types of police roles that we really need.

With so much digital information to hold and analyse during investigations we cannot use analogue processes at work at the speed of even the fastest human investigator or analyst.

There are many more challenges to come beyond funding where the public’s faith in police will be tested - in the use of AI and facial recognition for example. We need PCCs to broker those debates about security and liberty.

Over the past year, we have seen challenges to the use of facial recognition software in London and South Wales. Certain large tech companies have admitted that their staff have listened in through voice activated devices, and social media giants have admitted selling data on a mass scale and to huge data scrapes- as we saw revealed last week.

There were global outages of many email servers last week, and not long before that we have the impact of power cuts in the national grid.

In her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff presents years of analysis and interviews with some of the cutting edge tech companies who started out to change the world without a profit motive, and ended up becoming multi-billion dollar monopolies in the process.

Our rush to connect and share has put our financial and personal details in the hands of often insecure custodians leaving us all vulnerable to exploitation and fraud and even more sinister, our likes and preferences and geo-location have made our movements and choices predictable.

Whilst that does cause some to think we have already moved beyond the surveillance state of Orwell’s Oceania, those of us with responsibilities for law and order should be shaping data and AI to prevent and detect crime and to help speed up investigations, and more than that, we need to explain to the public why it is not just necessary but inevitable.

I’m sure we can work better across Government departments and agencies (like NASA did) to make some great leaps in policing. Not just in terms of technology but in adopting health-based approaches to preventing violent crime, as we have seen work so successfully in Glasgow and Cardiff, and as I have seen for myself with our REBOOT Early Intervention Youth Programme in Sussex.

We have made huge strides in smarter procurement and collaborating within policing to reduce costs but are we tapping into the wider knowledge and opportunities that already exists in other departments of state?

If the protection of its citizens is a primary duty of a Government, is it time we pushed for collaboration to take down unnecessary barriers between officials and officers?

I’d like us to think for a moment of the Criminal Justice System as an established eco-system, perhaps like the Great Barrier Reef. From a distance it is a magnificent edifice that we hold dear and that has stood the test of time. 

As we look more closely, we see that the infrastructure is getting tired and worn out, whilst the creatures that depend on it do their best to carry on as before with less resources and less success leaving the most vulnerable exposed.

Put simply, there are far too few convictions at the end of the criminal justice process, which affects policing decisions and resource allocation; it undermines public confidence and it emboldens criminals.

Why is it that in community safety there is a statutory obligation to work in partnership but there is no obligation for similar partnerships in criminal justice. If we just carry on as we are, the component parts of the system will continue to operate in isolation with diminishing results leaving crime victims with justice delayed and denied.

I have made a start in one area by leading the Video Enabled Justice Programme which uses existing technical approaches to save thousands of hours of police time.

The data we have collated into our CJS Dashboard as we have developed VEJ shows the alarming drop off in the volume of cases making into our courts and to convictions.

This brings me to the fourth and probably most challenging area: how do we use the collective management information in the component parts of the criminal justice system to help understand and improve justice outcomes?

Looking around the room today, I see we have in you, in the Superintendents the pivotal and influential hubs that are at the heart of policing, driving better performance and giving us eyes on the complex and dynamic world of policing.

That brings me to the reason I hope and believe that you became police officers and why I and my colleagues ran for office in the first place; to make a real difference.

Through your Association and through the National Police Chief’s Council you can influence how police respond and how they resource their officers.

Through our engagement with local people PCCs help guide that deployment and focus and we can encourage the necessary collaboration across the police family and relevant government departments and business.

There is no sense in being precious or territorial. We may have different views and affiliations but each of our voices is valuable and should be aired and heard. After all, blowing out somebody else’s candle doesn’t make your own shine any brighter.

There has always been a political dimension at a national or local level and I know all my PCC colleagues put the safety of their communities and their police officers well before party political considerations.

So I look forward to hearing our other speakers today and to talking to as many of you as possible to share ideas about ensuring our police forces can make people feel safer and criminals feel very uncomfortable.


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