NARPO: Commenting on the release of Sir Ronnie Flanagan’s report on policing

NARPO are pleased to see that Sir Ronnie Flanagan and his team want to bring common sense and discretion back into Policing. NARPO believe that targets have had an adverse effect on front line policing and we are pleased to see the reviews recommendations on reducing national targets but getting officers to use discretion and take ‘risks’ relies on support for those who do their best in the difficult situations that arise in everyday policing, not seeking to blame those same individuals who make genuine errors in their efforts to deliver.

NARPO believe that there will be few people who will be surprised that Sir Ronnie Flanagan and his team have found that today’s Police Service is restricted in its delivery of services by bureaucracy. This is not the first enquiry to discover this fact. We hope it is the first to radically reduce paperwork in the service. Many of us in NARPO can remember the days when an arrest for relatively minor offences did not result in a mountain of paperwork and consultations with lawyers and when conversations with people in the street did not result in form filling. Yet the service and the individual officer were still accountable then as now.

NARPO do not believe that the way to reduce paperwork is to alter the balance between sworn and non sworn staff in the service. This could have the effect of simply moving the paperwork between police staff without reducing it.

NARPO are also at a loss to understand how reducing the number of the most highly trained and flexible staff, sworn officers, and replacing them with individuals with a single skill and limited powers will satisfy the aim of achieving a resilient and flexible service for the future.

This idea, along with several others in the report, is not new and in fact some of the proposals are already operative in some forces. What is worrying about the report is the further drive towards a business culture and its vision of a significant change to British Policing based on a workforce modernisation program that is currently subject only to pilots, without a proper assessment of those pilots and a wide public debate.

David Anderton President of NARPO said ‘We in NARPO welcome the reports drive towards a less bureaucratic more common sense approach to policing which allows police offices the sensible use of discretion and where the service is not driven by centrally imposed targets. As with all reports of this nature the devil is in both the delivery and the detail. We are concerned that previous reports have not delivered on reduced bureaucracy and that suggestions of reducing police number contained in the report will alter the nature and balance of British policing resulting in a less resilient and less responsive service.’