Collaborations with services without blue lights are just as important

06 September 2016

Police Federation Chair Steve White has responded to Policing and Fire Minister Brandon Lewis' speech to the Police Superintendents' of England and Wales’ annual conference today, insisting that collaborations with non-emergency services should be just as important to the future of policing as those with the fire and ambulance services.   

Mr Lewis, making his first formal speech to a police audience since his appointment in the summer cabinet reshuffle, spoke of his desire for collaborations with the fire service, calling it an “essential element of locally driven reform”.

He added: “I also think it is equally important that the police have the skills, links and opportunities to collaborate effectively with the ambulance service and other agencies. “The Police and Crime Bill is before Parliament at the moment and includes provisions for the collaboration to go further. It introduces a duty for emergency services to collaborate with each other.”

But Mr White feels that the work with other services is more relevant to the police force. “I actually think we have more in common with other parts of the public service than the fire service and ambulance service,” he said. “Services such as the probation service, social services, mental health, education, for example. Perhaps they’re the services we should be better collaborating with rather than any service that actually carries a blue light.

“I don’t blame him for this but clearly the Police Minister doesn’t yet grasp the inconsistent picture of collaboration across the service that are resulting in particular in Federated rank members being pulled from pillar to post, never knowing when they are next on duty because they answer to three different bosses in three different forces.

“It’s a very confusing and demoralising picture for the federated ranks. The Home Office cannot continue to say it has absolved its responsibility to police in this country. The first duty of government is to its citizens and he needs to get his act in order.”

Mr Lewis also spoke of a need to bring in the best possible candidates to the force in order to help the force innovate as it faces up to the changing shape of crime in the coming years.

But Mr White added: “He spoke about innovation coming from within. We need to be part of that conversation and secondly we must not spend too much time, effort on money on bringing talent into the service – spend time, effort on money on the talent we already have within the service, whether it be at superintending rank level or federated rank level.

“We do have to change, but in order to be able to do that, especially with relation to cybercrime, we need investment in technology and training.  At the moment we’re seeing training budgets being cut left, right and centre and when it comes to investing in technology, you’re having a laugh. There’s 43 different ways of doing it, some forces are still running Windows XP.”