Examination of Witness (Questions 100
THURSDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2002
100. Do you have a copy of the Bill in front
(Mr Morris) I do not, I am afraid, no, it is the one
thing I did not bring.
101. It is Schedule 5, paragraph 2(2). Could
you elaborate the last point you were making?
(Mr Morris) If you do not have a power of arrest and
you unlawfully detain someone, then certainly in civil law you
could be sued in exactly the same way as a police officer who
did not have a power when they made an arrest. So our concerns
are, to start with how well trained will these people be about
the extent of their powers; will they be different across various
countries and force areas, and if they are, I think the public
will be confused which would be an appalling state of affairs.
Then you have this when would a person believe they are being
detained rather than just being asked simple questions? If it
is not made clear, the 30 minutes is practically meaningless.
I think the point was askedI am not sure if it was you,
Madamat 31 minutes what happens? Do you let somebody go
or if you keep hold of them are they then being unlawfully detained?
If the superintendent on a BCU is responsible for these people
we see our members getting taken to court because somebody has
made a mistake and it is 31 minutes instead of 29 minutes and
102. I was wondering whether you agreed with
what Sir David said about Community Support Officers. He said,
and I think I wrote it down correctly, "if there is money
for this we could do better things with it", i.e he would
prefer something different from Community Support Officers. Is
that your position?
(Mr Morris) If you gave the police chief constables
the opportunity to spend the cost involved, they may not all necessarily
leap into street patrol wardens. I think then you would have to
look at if they were under-performing that the Standards Unit
would ask the question "Why not". It is becoming increasingly
obvious, I think, that the financial burden on forces at the moment
is such that in some in particular the precepts are going to have
to go up considerably and they may wish to think about balancing
the cost of an officer with the cost of civilian support staff.
Unfortunately that means they may not hit the targets on the number
of recruits. I suspect, quite strongly, in fact I know, that the
Home Secretary would be displeased with that.
103. The other thing he said about Community
Support Offices was he was worried that if you had a bad situation
that occurred and all you had available as a Basic Command Unit
was Community Support Officers should you send them to that difficult
situation: a burglary, robbery or mugging? You would have to make
a choice, you would have to. You would be putting untrained or
less trained people into a difficult situation. Is that your view?
(Mr Morris) Yes, I think we would find that highly
unacceptable. That does not mean to say we cannot do better with
the resources we have got. There are some very interesting new
ideas coming forward from forces now about how they deploy their
current strength. One of the problems, of course, is that we have
tried to respond to every call from the public whether it is an
emergency or whether indeed we should go at all. I think we are
going to have to be quite strict about what we are deploying officers
to. It could well be that we could be better with that, so that
we do not deploy the people who have not got the training to deal
with robberies and leave that to the police officers but there
are things which officers go to now that we ought to be deploying
community wardens to.
104. Okay. So you are both saying there are
difficulties with Community Support Officers. They beg the question
what is a proper copper? Is that such a big problem that you would
not go ahead with it or would you go ahead with it and have the
extra numbers if you were in a position to say so?
(Mr Morris) I really wish I was here in a couple of
weeks' time because I am going to America for a week to have a
look at four cities and how they have been doing it. The ideal
questions that I have already formulated are: what powers do you
have, how does it work, how do you work with the police, what
is the relationship with the other agencies in an area and so
105. Perhaps you could write to us when you
(Mr Morris) Yes, I would be delighted to come back.
106. What would be very helpful is if there
are any additional points you want to make after your visit, write
us a letter.
(Mr Morris) Certainly, I will do that. At the moment,
a lot of this is the unknown. The tendency with the unknown is
to fear it, it might be completely unfounded. We are trying not
to look backwards and pretend that all is well with policing but
we are conscious of the problems which can accrue if you do not
plan something sufficiently.
107. Perhaps one last question. Sir David seemed
fairly keen on the accredited warden schemes, this is local authorities
employing wardens, and he said the police would be willing to
train them in some circumstances. He seemed very warm about that,
would you take the same view about that?
(Mr Morris) Yes. I think that would be quite important.
We have reduced the number of assaults on our officers, not just
by good equipment but by good training, in fact staying out of
trouble and dealing with the public in a way that is non confrontational
and so on. We need to help other agencies because otherwise we
will end up with assaults on wardens in the proportions we had
once with police officers which would be tying up our officers
dealing with that and increase the crime rate not inconsiderably.
108. There seems to be a difference of opinion
amongst ordinary policemen, if I can call them that, and divisional
commanders and the hierarchy in the Metropolitan Police as to
the value of beat policing. It seems to me that the introduction
of street wardens is almost replacing that at a lower level. How
do you view the efficiency and the ability to respond to crime
with beat policing, bearing in mind the ability to man a three
shift system throughout an entire area with policing cars, which
is a more commonly used method these days, and the very high level
of demand from the public to see visible police officers on the
(Mr Morris) If I can start by saying that I have only
worked with the Metropolitan Police on attachment so my detailed
knowledge of them is probably not good enough to give a comprehensive
answer, or a fair answer. They do have particular problems that
the rest of us do not have. Their position is unique in the United
Kingdom. Having said that, I think most of us recognise because
of the use of cars and the way we have tried to respond to everybody's
needs, whether it is a policing need or not we have tried to respond
to so many of them, we have a whole generation of officers whose
beat skills are, to be fair to them, deficient because we have
never trained them. If you ask many officers now to go and walk
a beat they may find it difficult to understand what is expected
of them, whereas when they are sitting in a car and the radio
dictates where they go next it is fairly easy to know what you
are expected to do. That is not the same for all forces and many
forces are trying to address that, not least Lincolnshire recently
have been talking about new courses for beat skills because officers
need to have a new purpose when they are out on the streets. It
is quite ludicrous that we can put officers on the streets and
they can do nothing but wander around for eight hours. They must
have a purpose. We must direct them. A lot of that could come
from the community and it could be that the purpose is to reassure
but even that is not satisfied just by being there. There is a
lot more that we could do. The community wardens may fulfil some
of that but from some of the evidence I have seen from the general
public, and I confess a lot of it is anecdotal from the press
and other places, the public see the police officer as providing
the reassurance and not the warden, but that could be just a matter
of time. Again, that is a question that I would like to put to
my colleagues out in the United States.
109. We perhaps do not have to go as far as
the United States because there are a number of examples in this
country where local authorities are already running warden schemes
(Mr Morris) There are. To be honest, the brutal answer
is someone has invited me. I am not paying, so I am going to go.
Monstrous, I know. My Association does not have to pay so we are
taking the opportunity to explore it. There are some circumstances
where the wardens are in place and we are getting mixed messages.
Some of it is they are doing a good job but they do not reassure,
they still want to see officers, and in others, because they never
see an officer, it is a blessing to see anybody patrolling. My
confusion is if it is supposed to be a cheaper version of patrolling
every time I see them they seem to be in twos or threes and we
are trying to do the complete opposite with our staff and get
them back to ones. It is not going to be cheaper, I am afraid,
if they are only patrolling in twos and threes.
110. Do you see a role for the humble bicycle
in making patrolling more efficient?
(Mr Morris) This was a holiday, I assure you, but
in the United States, particularly in Washington DC, officers
were on mountain bikes way before our officers seemed to be doing
it. It is convenient, it can be quick around towns and busy areas.
Again, we would need officers to want to do it. Some years ago
when I was asked by a sergeant to get on to a bicycle I looked
at him in complete horror as if he had three heads because I had
never been taught to complete a beat using a bicycle. However,
when he made me go to certain areas on foot, I soon realised it
was a good idea to get a bicycle.
111. Yes. You have experience of that?
(Mr Morris) Yes. I would not say it was a fortunate
one because it was rather tiring. Yes, it is a matter of learning
a different way of patrolling a beat. It is like going from a
car back on to foot, if you go on to a bicycle, you would not
patrol a foot beat with a bicycle, it would be pointless.
112. You would be far more flexible, would you
(Mr Morris) You could be more flexible. You could
cover a far greater area and get around a lot quicker.
113. And perhaps save a little more money on
all these cars with the latest gadgets.
(Mr Morris) Again, though, you come back to the fact
that the public also demand that we get to them, and of course
we have made it quite clear that we will get to them within certain
times. So you have to be able to balance the need for an emergency
response with the need to respond within even, say, 36 hours if
necessary. A lot of the things that we do, we could do on the
114. Going now to what is missing from the Bill
that you would like to see in it?
(Mr Morris) I think it is that connection that I drew
earlier which is the one that we are only one part of the criminal
justice system. We are quite happy that there should be some comparisons
between performance, although we are concerned about the naivety
with which some of the statistics are used.
115. You endorse Sir David's points on that?
(Mr Morris) Yes, and the lack of understanding about
the variable factors which affect performance. Having said that,
if you are going to have a form of comparison then you have to
understand that we are only one part of the judicial system. We
would want to strengthen the role of the comparisons in terms
of our partners in preventing crime and those others in the judicial
system which have a duty to ensure that justice is delivered for
the United Kingdom, or in this case England and Wales.
116. What would you do to diminish bureaucracy?
Have you any suggestions?
(Mr Morris) I think of all the things, I suppose that
was one area where I did not disagree with Sir David but I thought
we could make a bigger impact upon it. I did not disagree with
his contention that a lot of it could be eaten up, if you like,
by better technology. Although I love technology myself, I am
always concerned when people assume that is the first answer.
For an officer to make a simple caution to have to fill in so
many forms and spend so much time in the police station, really
it is quite outrageous. In some cases the form filling, as Sir
David said, is absolutely vital because we do have to explain
to whoever asks the right questions why we use the powers that
we do. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act was probably a reaction
to concerns about the police not being able to explain that in
the past. That being said, there are ways of overcoming the bureaucracy
on the patrol officer. The dangers though are that the officers
could become deskilled in terms of what happens back at the police
station. Again it is vital that we look at the training and skilling
of officers, that must not become a problem in itself. If they
do not have the opportunity to deal with interviews and the paper
work and what goes on, somewhere along the line we are going to
have to make sure the training is given so that they can then
progress into that role or into perhaps a CID role where investigative
skills and interview skills are absolutely crucial.
117. Are you aware of any examples of good practice
in forces that have succeeded in replacing bureaucracy?
(Mr Morris) I am only picking this up from Sir David
O'Dowd's team, but I think there are clear pockets around the
country where it is possible. I think the trick is going to be
to pull them altogether and where lots of people have identified
problems in the past and nothing has happened, to create the opportunities
for them to happen in the future. There is nothing at the moment
I can think of that springs to mind, I am afraid.
118. You cannot draw our attention to any force
in the country that is doing better at the moment that we might
go and look at?
(Mr Morris) I think, to be honest, it might be worth
asking Sir David O'Dowd's task force, I think they are best placed.
I would not want to set it in motion and find it is a blind alley.
119. Just on the Inspectorate and the new Standards
Unit, are you clear what the purpose of the Standards Unit is?
Do you think it is necessary?
(Mr Morris) Again, I would go back to what I said
earlier. I think it is quite understandable that the Home Secretary
not only wants to set the required standard but wants to have
the ability to deal with it if it is not achieved. That said,
perhaps some of us may have questioned why the HMI's office could
not have been given additional powers because they are well placed
to inspect and then perhaps to back up some of their comments
with enforcement notices, if I can use that term.