Fed chair opposes plans for policing licence to practise


PUBLISHED 09 Mar 2022

IN News

Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has criticised proposals for a new licence to practise for officers.

Liz described the plan, which is contained in the newly-published Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales, as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

The proposal, one of 56 recommendations in the review carried out by Sir Michael Barber and the think-tank Police Foundation, would see the introduction of a new licence to practise for all police officers that is renewed every five years and subject to strict conditions.

Liz said: “As a Federation we’re against the introduction of a so-called licence to practise.

“It’s one more obstacle in the way of recruitment and, crucially, retention. There’s already a crisis in policing, particularly our detectives, without this.

“Officers make an oath when they begin their careers and should be confident in taking that oath without the fear of being barred from practising.

“Of course we understand the need for scrutiny and to hold officers accountable, but this is a sledgehammer to crack a nut as there are already systems and process in place.”

Other proposals in the Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales included:

The review also highlighted the amount of resources directed to non-policing issues because of pressures on mental health and care services.

Police devote more than three million investigation hours per year to missing persons, the report found, the equivalent of 1,562 full-time police officers per year or 36 officers per force. The total annual cost of these investigations is estimated to be between £394m and £509m.

Liz said: “It’s a mess. Police shouldn’t be the service of last resort for dealing with mental health, for supporting the NHS, for backing up our care system because they’ve been cut to the bone – but we also can’t say no at the moment.

“Now is the time to revisit the purpose and mission of the police, and ask what the public wants and expects from their police service.

“Does the public want us to deal with crime or to be a service of last resort for large and underfunded sections of our public services?”

Launching the review’s final report, Sir Michael said: “There is a crisis of confidence in policing in this country which is corroding public trust.

“The reasons are deep rooted and complex – some cultural and others systemic. However taken together, unless there is urgent change, they will end up destroying the principle of policing by consent that has been at the heart of British policing for decades.

“Policing in this country is at a crossroads and it cannot stand still whilst the world changes so quickly around it. Now is the moment to move forward quickly on the path of reform. The warning signs if we do nothing are flashing red and we ignore them at our peril.

“This report represents the most comprehensive review of policing for a generation and sets out an agenda for fundamental change. It is the product of over two years of work and engagement with the police and a range of different stakeholders.

“Everyone recognises the need to shift the odds, which too often are stacked in favour of the criminal.

“We need a modern police service fit for the future which is at the cutting edge of technology and training. And we need it urgently.

“I believe the will is there and that the talented police officers who work tirelessly for the public would be the strongest champions of change.”

Read the report.