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A decade of duty

President Paul Griffiths reflects on a decade in the PSA and the level of change we have seen in the Police Service in that time:

January 2020 marks my decade in the Police Superintendents’ Association.  Over those 10 years, significant challenges have seen by the Service and the people charged with delivering it.

Policing was described by some political commentators as an ‘unreformed institution’, which has caused me to reflect – is this really the case?  Are we really a Service that is firmly, resolutely stuck in its ways with a belief that we don’t have to change, or can’t change? I don’t think so.  

It is all too easy to band phrases around for political rhetoric and gain, without a true reflection on reality. In my view, the last ten years have posed the most extreme tests to Policing – perhaps the most challenging since its inception, and ‘reform’ could now even describe our ‘status quo’ in terms of what we strive for. Let’s review the evidence:

  • In 2010, the Government Spending Review announced that central funding to the Police Service of England and Wales would reduce by 20% over four years

  • In 2011, Riots took place across England and Wales and Sir Tom Winsor released his first review into Policing (the second review appeared in 2012)

  • In 2012, Police Authorities were abolished in England and Wales and replaced by democratically elected Police and Crime Commissioners. The National Police Improvement Agency was replaced by the College of Policing as the professional body for knowledge and standards

  • In 2013, The Serious and Organised Crime Agency was replaced by the National Crime Agency to protect the public from the most serious of threats

  • In 2014, The Normington Review saw significant changes to the Police Federation of England and Wales. The Police Remuneration Review Body was introduced to replace the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Service introduced new direct entry routes and fast track promotion processes

  • In 2015, a new pension scheme was introduced based on the career average of an officer. ACPO was dissolved and replaced by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and tragically 130 people were killed and hundreds injured in Paris, following a coordinated terrorist attack, which impacted on the security arrangements for the UK

  • In 2016, in the EU referendum, the country voted to leave the European Union. UK Intelligence and Police Services had their surveillance powers extended 

  • In 2017, HMIC had its remit expanded to include the Fire and Rescue Service

  • In 2018, The IPCC was been replaced by the Independent Office of Police Conduct and appointed its first Director General

  • Between 2010 and 2019 – Police budgets were cut by 19% and Police officer numbers fell by about 21,000

  • Volunteer Cadets, Police Apprenticeship Schemes and investigative entry routes were all created

  • There was a growth in the number of Historical enquiries 

  • Fraud, cyber-enabled and technology crimes have all risen at a significant rate

  • Vulnerability crime has risen as awareness grows

  • Mental health-related issues have now surpassed muscularskeletal as the number one reason for taking sick leave

  • The Police Service has been preparing for exit from the European Union

  • In 2019 – The Government announces a 20,000 increase to the establishment of Police Officers 

All these events haven’t simply happened ‘to’ our Service, they have been part of a massive system of change and development that shows no sign of slowing down.

Unreformed?  Many would argue that our Service is almost unrecognisable today compared with in 2010.

We live in times where change is constant – Instagram was only just launched in 2010, Netflix had only 10% of its current 167 million subscribers and the term ‘Brexit’ had never even been spoken.
As the world continues to develop rapidly, as threats and challenges increase and ‘demand’ becomes a word that means so much, there is no doubt our journey of ‘reform’ could get quicker, more innovative and involve changes we are yet to even contemplate.
But let’s celebrate what we’ve already achieved – how much we’ve already learned, and how far we’ve come.  Let’s embrace the next decade of duty with the energy and drive of the last and continue to strive to be the best Police Service in the world.