ensuring the police service is able to do its job effectively and
underpins the police reform programme already developed with the
police service, home office minister John Denham said today.
The Bill will provide the legislative framework for modernising
policing and is part of a wider agenda for reform which includes for
example video ID parades and the introduction of pilot video
recording of interviews.
Video recording of police interviews with suspects will be piloted
from tomorrow as part of government plans to modernise police
procedures and provide a more reliable interview record for the
This follows the introduction of video identification parades to 10
robbery hotspots to help police identify suspects more swiftly and
speed up the criminal justice system.
Mr Denham confirmed the government's intention to reintroduce powers
of detention for community support officers and powers to intervene
on behalf of communities where policing is failing and, following
defeats in the lords.
He said he welcomed today's home affairs select committee report on
the Police Reform Bill, in particular the committee's recognition
that community support officers could play an important part in
supporting the police and that the powers the government is proposing
should be tested.
The government remained convinced that powers to tackle persistent
poor performance were required and noted the committee's welcome for
the extra safeguards for the proposed powers.
The Bill is an essential part of the government's police reform
programme, aimed at further reducing crime and the fear of crime and
raising the performance of the police service as a whole, he added.
Mr Denham said:
'Nothing is more important to local communities than the ability to
live free from crime, from anti- social behaviour and to live without
the fear of being a victim.
'The effectiveness of the police service is critical to achieving
this aim. Up and down the country, dedicated professional police
officers do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job well.
'Our proposals for reform are driven by the desire to better support
front-line officers in the work that they do. Recruiting record
numbers of police officers, tackling red tape and bureaucracy,
enhancing training will help officers provide an effective and modern
'Everyone has the right to expect high standards of policing ,
wherever they live. The government remains convinced that powers to
tackle persistent poor performance are required. Wide variations in
performance between forces need to be tackled by promoting good
practice, and where necessary, taking effective remedial action to
address poor performance.'
Key elements in the Police Reform Bill to raise policing standards
- A National Policing Plan will set out the government's priorities
for policing, how they are to be delivered and indicators by which
performance will be measured.
- Regulations and codes of practice in relation to equipment and
practices and procedures will ensure that the best operational and
management policies for policing are applied consistently
throughout the service.
- Where a force or part of a force is failing the secretary of state
will be able to require a police authority to take measures to
remedy the situation
- Reintroduce a power for the secretary of state to direct chief
officers to take remedial action to address poor performance. This
intervention power would only be used as a last resort.
- To allow the police to designate support staff as community support
officers and to set up community safety accreditation schemes to
assist the police in tackling anti social behaviour and minor
disorder and to provide increased reassurance to the public.
Community support staff will be given powers to issue a fixed
penalty notice, power of detention and the power to use reasonable
force to ensure their effectiveness.
- Introduce an independent police complaints commission to bring in
an open and transparent system to increase public confidence and
give reassurance that complaints will be investigated fairly and
- To update the existing powers to remove and suspend chief officers
but with important safeguards for individual officers. These
include a requirement to give reasons for action, the right for
officers to have a personal hearing at any proceedings, and the
right for a police authority to have their representations
considered where the secretary of state initiates action.
New measures introduced in the Bill in the commons include:
- To enable employees of companies providing detention and/or
prisoner escort service to police authorities on a contracted out
basis to have access to relevant police powers;
- Powers for paramedics to take intimate samples (such as a blood
sample) under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence
Act and Road Traffic Act.
- For chief constable of the British Transport Police to be able to
establish community safety accreditation schemes.
- To make Sex Offender Orders apply across the UK as a whole and to
provide for interim Sex Offender Orders in England and Wales.
1. The Police Reform Bill was introduced into the house of lords on
25th January, 2002. It concluded 3rd reading in the lords on April
25th and has now been introduced into the commons.
2. The Police Reform Bill and Explanatory Notes are available on
the parliament website (www.parliament.uk).
3. The Bill will be taken forward alongside the government's wider
police reform agenda. Other measures being taken forward to provide
more effective and efficient policing include video ID parades.
Video recording of police interviews with suspects will
be piloted from tomorrow.
4. Five forces, Kent, Hampshire, West Mercia, the Metropolitan
Police Service and Essex will run the scheme for 12 monthsand will
pave the way for the wider use of this technology across all police
forces. Until now, police could only visually record an interview
if the suspect consented, but under new revised police guidelines
visual records of an interview will be mandatory in the pilot
5. Police guidance on video recordings of police interviews with
suspects is contained in PACE Code F, which is police guidance
governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The code is
mandatory in those police stations participating in the pilot
6. Police numbers have reached record levels, with 128,748 police
officers in England and Wales on 31 January, 2002. With help from
the Crime Fighting Fund, police strength is well on track for the
government's target of 130,000 police officers by Spring 2003.
7. The modernised pay and conditions package is currently in
conciliation in the Police Negotiating Board.
8. A special taskforce, headed by David O'Dowd, was established
last November to look at how to reduce the burden of paperwork in
the police service. The taskforce is due to report this summer.