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Portsmouth South MP speaks up for Hampshire Police

It was good to hear Portsmouth South’s MP speaking in the Opposition Day debate on Policing.  It shows what a short intervention can do to highlight the quality performance already being achieved by Hampshire Police – and to ensure that the debate, on what could be improved and what must be protected, is set in the context of what is already going well and demonstrates that a learning, professional and focussed Constabulary can find ways to deliver in even the most challenging financial and change environments.

It was good to be reminded that crime in Hampshire is down by 11% (A good context headline) and that 96% of Officers are deployed in the Front-Line of policing.  Flick Drummond also mentioned the challenge faced by a County that has an 85% rural footprint, but also a significant and high density area of urban city and town footprint with significant numbers in areas of high deprivation and risk from drugs and other causes of criminal activity and community disruption.

As a prospective candidate to be PCC, I listened carefully for clues for future plans.

A balanced programme of policing, recognising this complex mix and supported by a representative formula for funding, is essential if the volume of need is not to overwhelm resources.  It will be important that there is partnership in leadership in all the stakeholder levels of Government and stakeholders in delivering resources and support to our Police Force.

I was also glad to hear the public recognition of the PREVENT strategy and the positive impact of concentrating on this in response to the recent local issues in Portsmouth of radicalisation and dangerous motivation by some to travel abroad on ill-judged motivation. This national and nationally strategic issue has its impact at a very local level and needing local intelligence and sensitive action, if we are to truly PREVENT further examples and the associated risks to individual’s lives and community.

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Qualities & Behaviours to deliver Core Police Business

The PCC as the community’s representative has the task of listening for what people want their Police Force to do and what they should not do.  These can often be expressed as about the small things that cumulatively affect the community sense of safety.

Some core business, that is high priority and strategically important for outcomes, is however beyond question needed as part of the necessary competencies, and they, by their very nature, require immediate and expert responses.  Examples are:

  • Managing complex and protracted criminal enquiries, including those that cross Force boundaries. (A very topical and contentious national debate today exists with regard to some high profile national cases about the cost measured against achievement.)
  • Controlling public disorder, effectively and even-handedly.
  • Controlling the scene of major disasters, including co-ordinating the work of colleagues emergency services in often extremely difficult and public conditions. (Consider the recent aircraft crash on the A27.)

There are common qualities and behaviours that are required to deliver effective policing and leadership of that delivery by both Police Leaders and Leaders of Policing.

My list, including a priority for implementing them, would include:

  • Excellent communication by leaders of the task and priorities for action.
  • Visible leadership for the community and, no less, amongst the policing team.
  • Evident integrity and fairness in all that is done in the name of the police and its partners.
  • Professional skills and experience in their deployment.
  • A culture of learning, growing and changing to meet the requirements as they are, not how they were.

These are some fundamental elements of achieving first class outcomes and the ability to sustain them deserve to be part of testing the appropriateness of proposed change and draft policing plans as they are considered for approval.

As a PCC, these would be principles that I held to firmly.

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The Importance of Intelligence Led Policing

Intelligence led policing is good practice and could be seen as naturally added-value. And, so it should be, representing a professional and focussed approach that demonstrates major impact where deployed by any Police Force.

However, today, the challenge is presented not by the policy intent to include Intelligence Led Policing, but about the balance and extent of this activity at a time of constraint in resources and the challenge of balancing effort across a wide range of priorities competing for this resource.

As PCC, I would see this as a key aspect of seeking to deliver a tougher and more intelligent approach to crime fighting. I see it as directing energy and skills to where they will do most good. This turns practically into concentrating on major crime and major criminals using specialist teams.

It would help deliver an underpinning objective of my draft priorities, that of ‘relentlessly focussing on prolific offenders, recognising they constitute a huge proportion of reported crime, and the impact of their removal on community confidence and increased availability of resource for other tasks.’