Police Superintendents Logo

Superintendents' President: A 'void' in the vision for policing

Reform of the police service is likely to fail because of a void in the long-term vision for the service, the Home Secretary will be told at the annual conference of senior operational police leaders.

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, will voice what he calls “genuine fears for the future of the police service and the hard-working people who make up that service” now that policing is routinely based on fewer people working longer and harder.

The head of the body that represents senior operational police officers will set out his message to Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP at the Association’s annual conference ,which starts in Leicestershire on Monday 10 September.

He will urge the Home Secretary and police leaders to take “difficult and bold” decisions to secure the future of the service.

Ch Supt Thomas will say: 

“There is a void in the long term strategic vision for the police  service of the future. 

“We need to know what the overall goal is for reform. What are we ultimately working towards? What is the vision for policing in 21st century England and Wales? 

“Policing is now utterly reliant on fewer people working longer and harder. 

“I cannot emphasise enough that the delivery of routine policing functions should not be dependent on officers effectively giving their time for free by staying past their shift times or working on leave days. “That exploits police officers and defrauds the public. 

“In my speech last year I said policing was in the middle of a perfect storm. 

“I would now suggest that this great service is on the verge of crisis in many areas. 

“The vision for policing has to be something more strategic than a hope for more collaborations, otherwise we will be in a perpetual state of crisis.” 

His message comes after a survey of the Association’s members working in collaboration roles found 61% said that role has a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

There is also significant concern that collaborations are forcing police to work inefficiently.  Officers reported spending four hours in a car some days covering force areas of more than 100 miles, and having to use two different work laptops, IDs and e-mail addresses for the same job. This is taking up time that should be spent on operational decision making to protect the public.

Chief Supt Thomas will say: 

“We have been debating our structures for delivering service to the public on and off for years, and yet have been trying to make the same systems and structures work. 

“The famous definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

“Our members are trying to make collaborations work when the evidence suggests this is a sub-optimal approach to reform.”

 Other speakers at the conference include Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Cressida Dick, former Europol Director Sir Rob Wainwright, Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP, College of Policing Chief Executive Mike Cunningham, and Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh MP.

Follow the discussion on Twitter at @policesupers using #supers0218 and visit our YouTube channel for videos of the main sessions.