Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220
THURSDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2002
220. I am sorry to interrupt but is there anything
in the Bill that the Federation are thinking "yes, this is
going to improve policing"?
(Mrs Berry) There are the starting arrangements certainly
for the National Policing Plan, which will be co-ordination. There
are the arrangements for the Standards Unit and we have talked
about how that might be co-ordinated with HMIC. In reality most
of the rest of the Bill is about the Community Support Officers
who we clearly have not supported. The rest of the Bill is about
the Independent Police Complaints Commission and, whilst we support
the principle of it, we do not believe what is contained within
the Bill will provide the independence which we believe the public
are expecting and has been promised in a variety of different
221. Following on from that, and looking at
police powers for other civilians. Could you explain how you see
the proposed case manager role working?
(Mrs Berry) The case manager role has actually been
operating in a pilot in some forces. We believe this is a person
who when an individual is brought into custody, a custody sergeant
will clearly need to authorise that detention and then after that,
the police officer having given the precis of why the individual
has been arrested can then go back on patrol and the rest of the
paperwork and interviews and taking of statements can be conducted
by a case manager with a case building team.
222. I think I would like to examine and look
at who you think would be best used as case managers. I think
the Federation welcome the use of case managers but have reservations
about giving police powers to civil case managers, is that right?
(Mrs Berry) We do not believe that a case manager
will require police powers in order to conduct their work. There
are a number of forces which at this moment in time are employing
case managers and many of those in fact are retired police officers
who are able to continue to use the skills and expertise they
have gathered during their service.
223. The Federation would be happy with either
retired police officers or experienced civil staff carrying out
(Mrs Berry) Yes but we do not believe they need police
powers in order to do that.
224. Are there other ways in which you could
reduce the bureaucratic burden on police officers?
(Mrs Berry) Many people have tried over a long period
of time. Every review of bureaucracy has normally ended up with
even more form filling. I think that might take us back to a question
that Clint answered earlier with regard to performance indicators.
The more performance indicators you have the greater the bureaucracy
will be because there will be another accountancy system for it.
What the police service has been very poor at over the years is
establishing and using technology to collate that. So, the ideal
for a police officer is that when you have arrested somebody you
arrive at a custody suite, you book your prisoner in and the custody
sergeant enters the person's name on the record and it goes through
the whole system right the way through, if that person is then
sent to prison, through to prison. At this moment in time that
cannot take place. Just that one improvement, with all the technology
that entails, would save an awful lot of time and bureaucracy.
(Mr Elliott) Can I just expand slightly on that. We
have been promised for some considerable time compatible computer
systems within the criminal justice system, and there is a smile
coming from the left of you. Promises are really very good but
they are no good unless they are delivered. I think we have been
working on thissomebody has been working on thisfor
in excess of ten years. It is one of the solutions which would
greatly reduce bureaucracy if we just had a really good IT system
that was compatible across the criminal justice system. The Police
Information Technology Organisation is working on this currently.
We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of that group. Police officers
more and more, as they get promises about information technology
are more and more cynical about it because we are good at promising
but we are not very good at delivering. I think that might be
a public sector problem as well as a police service problem. That
is a key issue, if you could walk into a custody suite, the forms
are designed for a computer but we have not got one that goes
with the forms. The forms are designed to put the name in once
and it goes down the 15 forms. What happens now is you put your
name on once, twice, three times, so that would be the key. If
that could be across the whole system that would be really good.
225. Where do you then lay the blame for the
fact you have tried to get that for years?
(Mr Elliott) I think you would probably know better
than us because I think there are similar problems across the
whole public sector with the information technology projects in
the public sector, they just do not seem to deliver. I think what
happens is as we get close to a solution somebody comes up with
another bright idea and because we are living on the edge of technology
and technology is improving all the time, instead of getting a
damn system which works, we are continually pushing forward to
get the ultimate.
226. Is it not the fact that even between police
forces there are different technologies?
(Mr Elliott) That is right. If the right one was there
and it worked, I tell you what, there are 43 forces which would
take it, there is no question about that I do not think.
227. It is not a question of those 43 forces
all believing their's is the right one?
(Mr Elliott) The damn thing is not being delivered
nationally, that is part of the problem. If you have not got something
delivered nationally you are tempted to find the solution locally
and that is exactly what has been happening and that costs as
(Mrs Berry) I think there is an element of local decision
making taking over as far as what might be in the national good.
What is proposed is this new scientific and technical project
board which would need to okay all of the future products in that
line. Now that sounds all very well and good provided it does
not add another layer of bureaucracy to the system. What we would
not want to see is that in some forces they will trial a new piece
of equipment, that needs to be done in a co-ordinated way so that
other forces can then benefit. What it does not need to be doing
is forces tend to own a piece of equipment which then puts them
above other forces. I think that is what we would like to see
improved upon and where there is a piece of equipment that is
going to be of good use throughout the service then that needs
to go through the service as quickly as possible.
(Mr Elliott) Just one more point. The Government recently
did a diary of a police officer which showed up some of the shortfalls
in bureaucracy. We are doing all we can to assist Sir David O'Dowd
as part of that group to try and see if we can get some quick
wins. There are lots of issues identified in the diary about inhibitors
and we are working hard through that group to try and see if we
can get some quick wins. It is a key area, really it is a demotivator
for police officers.
228. Can I move on to Clause 42 which deals
with offences for which a person may be arrested without warrant.
This adds to the list of arrestable offences assaulting a police
officer, making off without payment and driving whilst disqualified.
Why have these three offences not been arrestable in the past?
(Mrs Berry) Mainly because of the penalty that is
attributed to them. In order for them to be arrestable offences
it has to be five years or more imprisonment and I think those
offences carry less than five years. So, therefore, they came
under the banner of being powers of arrest which was a conditional
power. Certainly, from our point of view, we felt they were serious
enough to warrant being an arrestable offence. There were a number
of offences which were classified as being arrestable offences
even though they did not fulfil the five years or more punishment
and those were ones which we felt should be added, in fact I think
they are probably proposals from the Federation that they should
be added to the list.
229. That is something you are happy with?
(Mr Elliott) Absolutely.
(Mrs Berry) We fully support it.
230. Are you right about that last point? All
these offences have previously been arrestable, have they not?
(Mrs Berry) Taking without consent, what used to be
an arrestable offence but then it was deemed not to be an arrestable
offence and I think it is going back to being an arrestable offence
231. No. Driving while disqualified is an arrestable
(Mrs Berry) It is an offence for which there is a
power of arrest, it is not necessarily an arrestable offence.
Bob Russell: You need a lawyer to sort that
Mr Malins: This is for another day.
Chairman: What we have at the moment is a Crown
232. The point made last week, what we have
got now is a position where the arrest can take place subsequently
at the person's home.
(Mrs Berry) That is absolutely right, yes. Where it
is a power of arrest it has to be found committing and for an
arrestable offence it does not have to be found committing.
233. Just going back to the figures for the
number of police officers, this is for the record really. We have
looked it up. The numbers peaked in March 1993 at 128,290 and
then fell to a low point of 124,170 in March 2000 and by April
this year they will exceed the previous highest level and are
expected to rise to 130,000 by April next year.
(Mrs Berry) That is certainly the target, yes.
234. That is the position?
(Mrs Berry) Yes.
(Mr Elliott) I think that some forces have done better
than others. Globally your figures are absolutely right but some
forces have done better than others in that respect.
Chairman: I am sure that is right, thank you
very much. Mrs Watkinson has some miscellaneous items for you.
235. Thank you, Chairman. The first one relates
to nationality requirements. The new Clause 60 in the Bill removes
the existing restriction that police officers must be British,
Irish or Commonwealth citizens. Are there any records to indicate
how much of a bar this has been to recruitment in the past and
what effect do you think it might have on recruitment in the future?
(Mr Elliott) I do not think we have got any records
about what a bar it has been in the past. We have certainly had
some concerns about this particular clause. We were concerned
that if you were a police officer you were a police officer and
you swore allegiance to the Crown but our concerns in that respect
have been dealt with. We were also concerned that whoever did
join the service should have similar vetting procedures, no matter
what their nationality. We had some concerns about that which
I think have been addressed. So far as what a bar it has been
to people coming into the English and Welsh Police Service, I
really do not know. I do not know who it is targeted at either.
I do not know that there is a queue of people waiting to fly over
here and join. I cannot answer your question, I am sorry.
236. There have been some amendments to the
declaration, are you happy with those?
(Mr Elliott) The oath of allegiance?
(Mrs Berry) The attestation. I think we were concerned
in the earlier stages because there was a fear from us that our
relationship with the Crown was to be removed. We feel that it
is the part of British policing that is important, that provides
policing with independence from political control. The tripartite
arrangement of Government, police authorities and chief officers,
we feel, is important and it is that loyalty to the Crown that
provides that. We have now been given assurances, and I think
the attestation contained within the Bill retains the swearing
of allegiance to the Crown.
237. Yes, it does. It is slightly watered down
(Mrs Berry) It takes out "our sovereign lady,
the Queen", I think.
Angela Watkinson: It still refers to the Queen
and you are quite happy with that. Could I move on to the recovery
of cost for events such as football matches and nightclubs. In
the case of nightclubs I have a particular interest as my neighbouring
constituency has the largest concentration of nightclubs outside
the West End of London which makes an enormous demand on the local
police. There is a recovery of cost issue there. With apologies
to anyone who happens to be a Chelsea supporter, an example given
here is a low-grade game
Bob Russell: They are all low-grade games.
238. at Chelsea Football Club costs £13,705,
but the contribution from the club would only be £397. What
new arrangements would you like to see for these sorts of social
(Mrs Berry) I think that is really a matter for chief
239. This is your opportunity to say.
(Mrs Berry) I know it is but I think one of the difficulties
we have is that police officers' duties are changed incessantly
in order to police football matches and other events like that.
We know that police forces receive an income for that. Sometimes
the way in which that money is then passed through the system
means that it does not necessarily go to the officers who are
inconvenienced by continually having to work every single weekend.
As far as how much money should be paid then clearly there needs
to be a more realistic sum than the sum that you have just read
out. I know that the arrangement many years ago was that policing
had to be paid for on the inside of the ground only and what has
happened is football clubs have far more professional stewarding
arrangements today than they have ever had before, so they have
reduced the commitment inside the ground. The arrangement has
always been that outside the ground it is the responsibility of
the police because it is a public thoroughfare and, therefore,
the police have to pick up the bill for doing that. The difficulty
with that is that most of the problems now are outside grounds
rather than inside grounds so if we were not to put the right
number of police officers outside the ground then other liabilities
come into play. How that can be arranged in a statutory way, that
organisations who put on large public events, or even public/private
events, then have to pay a greater proportion of the policing
costs is an interesting proposal.
(Mr Elliott) There are also knock-on effects about
policing in the area outside where the football ground is, for
instance. In small and medium sized forces you may have to pull
people into the centre denuding other areas, which I have always
had a personal concern about. Clubs do get a service below that
which it costs the force, there is no doubt about that. The problem
is that most clubs are not as rich as Chelsea.
Bob Russell: Absolutely, especially Colchester.