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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 757-i
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
Police and Crime CommissiONErs: Progress to Date
Tuesday 26 November 2013
Ron Ball, Sir Graham Bright and Tony Lloyd
Sir Hugh Orde, Sir Peter Fahy and Colette Paul
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 127
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 26 November 2013
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Ron Ball, Warwickshire PCC, Sir Graham Bright, Cambridgeshire PCC, and Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester PCC and Chairman, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: I call the Committee to order and start with an apology to our witnesses, and indeed the public. I am afraid we had two votes and, as two of our witnesses will recall, that takes precedence over the work of the Select Committees. I refer everyone present to the Register of Members’ Interests where the interests of all members of this Committee are noted. Are there any additional interests to note on the policing issues?
This is our first session on the Committee’s report and inquiry into Police and Crime Commissioners. We agreed last year that rather than start an inquiry into PCCs before we knew what they were actually doing, we would wait a year and see how things developed and then begin our inquiry. We intend that this inquiry will be a substantial one and the Committee intends to visit a number of different areas in England and Wales to meet with commissioners and also the public. We are delighted to have here Tony Lloyd, Sir Graham Bright and Ron Ball, all Police and Crime Commissioners, having been elected last year.
Could I start with you, Mr Ball, about a topical issue that is in the public domain, and that is the Andrew Mitchell affair? You will know that today it has been announced that one officer will face criminal charges and four officers will be subject to misconduct charges. Your authority was involved, not in the first set of events but certainly in the second. Do you welcome the fact that these charges are being brought and that this matter seems to be coming to an end?
Ron Ball: I very much welcome it, Chairman. There are two groups of people I think I can speak for very clearly. The general public are confused as to why this is taking so long, costing so much money and using so much police time. It is a very serious matter, and I certainly do make that point, but the other is that we have a very large number, the overwhelming majority, of really good police officers who are getting tarnished by this. I think that is a real shame, a real pity.
Q2 Chair: Do you welcome also the IPCC inquiry? I know there was concern as to whether or not they should be involved but, as you know, they are now taking on board the inquiry in respect of what happened in Sutton Coldfield.
Ron Ball: I have taken my own legal advice on the second inquiry, purely to defend my own position, frankly, on the legality of it. I think it is a good thing, provided it is a properly conducted legal inquiry.
Q3 Chair: You were not involved in any way at any stage because you were not even the Police and Crime Commissioner when this happened.
Ron Ball: That is correct. My position has been misrepresented, and I can extremely quickly explain what my position is. I criticised the Police Federation political campaign and I said that the officers should apologise, and I have said that from the outset. As far as holding the chief constable to account is concerned, I have an agreement from the chief constable that if it is appropriate we will have an open public meeting, with all of the information, so that the public or the press can ask any questions. As far as the officers are concerned, all I have said is that we need to make sure that we stick to fair and proper process, and as long as that is done then I am perfectly happy.
Q4 Chair: But of course your chief constable has apologised to the Committee and to Mr Mitchell.
Ron Ball: He has indeed, yes.
Chair: But the officer concerned has not. Would you like to see him do that?
Ron Ball: From the outset, I have said that I thought it was appropriate that the officer should apologise to Andrew Mitchell. I have always said that.
Chair: Mr Hinton has subsequently appeared before the Committee and issued an apology.
Ron Ball: Indeed, yes.
Q5 Chair: Mr Lloyd, in particular to you, you must have been very disappointed to read the Stevens report that said that the office that you and colleagues hold-you are the chairman of the association-is a model that has fatal systemic flaws and that it was an experiment that should not survive the next set of elections. Do you agree with Lord Stevens?
Tony Lloyd: No, I don’t agree, Mr Vaz. I don’t agree for the reason that I think it is premature and it does not take account of the reality that is being driven through on the ground, the kind of things that Police and Crime Commissioners are doing now that would not have been done under the former police authority model. Any proposal around governance of policing has to at least take into account the gains that have been made with the present model to make sure that we don’t lose those in a process of transformation.
Q6 Chair: Sir Graham, I have a list of all the people who served on the Stevens commission. They are, by any definition, the good and the great, with former commissioners, former chief inspectors of constabulary, the former deputy president of the Liberal Democrat Party, another former commissioner, Lord Condon. It is a damning report, is it not, to say that the arrival of Police and Crime Commissioners has led to an even greater lowering of morale among the police? I think the words were public mistrust in the police having been exacerbated by the role of Police and Crime Commissioners.
Sir Graham Bright: Again, I think it is far too early to make that judgment. We have only been in existence for a year and the report was being put together over a two-year period. The other thing is the input to that report. I noticed that they interviewed something like 32,000 policemen, only 2,000 members of the public and no police commissioners. I personally am amazed that my colleague, Tony Lloyd, bearing in mind it is a Labour Party report, was not called before them to give his point of view. I think that misses a point because out in the wide world-
Q7 Chair: So you can dismiss all that he said? You don’t think it is a fatally flawed system?
Sir Graham Bright: I don’t think it is a fatally flawed system. I can certainly identify with local policing. In my own force, we operate a local policing system and I go along with that. Some things in that report I can go along with but it is not a flawed system. If it was, we would not be able to do some of the things we are doing now, and I am sure you want to talk to us about that in due course. There are so many things we are doing, like getting together with neighbouring forces, that would not have happened without commissioners being there because we can make decisions very rapidly compared with the old committee system.
Q8 Chair: Let us look at one example that was put before our sister committee, the Public Administration Committee. That related to crime figures being manipulated by officers, in particular in the Met. It was Constable James Patrick who went before the Committee and basically gave evidence that the figures were being systematically altered and reduced by between 22% and 25% for rape and serious sexual offences. Commissioner Ball, did it shock you when you heard that information?
Ron Ball: If that is correct, it certainly did shock me, but one of the things that has happened since we have had commissioners is that my colleague in Kent and Barnes has had HMIC in to have a look at the crime figures there and has found errors and they are being corrected.
Q9 Chair: In respect of your own force, as a result of hearing this evidence, did you initiate a review to find out whether the figures were indeed being manipulated?
Ron Ball: I did, yes.
Q10 Chair: Have you started that review?
Ron Ball: Yes, I have. I have a weekly meeting with my chief constable and I am making absolutely sure that we are not indulging in any of those practices.
Q11 Chair: Can you tell this Committee that you have found no evidence?
Ron Ball: To date, I have not found any evidence at all, but I have not heard back fully from the chief constable yet.
Q12 Chair: Mr Lloyd, you must have been pretty shocked to hear that police officers were manipulating figures in order to reduce crime, in effect. Did you initiate a review in Greater Manchester?
Tony Lloyd: There is a process of independent audit of the figures. I am confident on the basis of that independent audit that the same pattern does not exist, but of course I have asked that we look once again at the independent audit that is taking place. Mr Vaz, if I can make the point that one of the things that it is worth your Committee considering is that if this had arisen under the previous rather more bureaucratic system of governance, it is very unlikely that either Mr Ball or myself, or indeed Sir Graham, could have answered in the affirmative to your question, at least in this timeframe. It would have taken a considerably longer amount of time to report.
Q13 Chair: So you have initiated your review and you are satisfied that there is no manipulation of figures in Greater Manchester.
Tony Lloyd: I am satisfied, subject to wanting to go further, as we would, but I do not believe there is systematic distortion of the figures, no.
Q14 Chair: Sir Graham, what about your area in Cambridgeshire?
Sir Graham Bright: I was pretty alarmed that that was happening.
Q15 Chair: Did you find out for the first time when you heard that evidence or did you know before?
Sir Graham Bright: That the figures were being manipulated? No. That evidence rang alarm bells when it came forward, and I think I am right in saying that all the police commissioners were very concerned about it and questions were asked. I asked and I have been reassured. Our audit committee actually looks at that as well, but it nevertheless has put commissioners on the alert to look very carefully at the way crime figures are recorded. It is something that gets buried, so you need to go and ferret. It was an alarm and I think we can honestly say we took note of that and to the best of my knowledge all commissioners have reacted on it.
Q16 Chair: One question to each of you about integrity after Plebgate, Hillsborough, Jimmy Savile and all these other dreadful events that have occurred that have shaken people’s confidence in the police. Commissioner Ball, give me an example of one thing that you have done in order to improve the integrity of your local police?
Ron Ball: I am sure you are aware that we have a strategic alliance with West Mercia and one of the results of that is that the professional standards departments are being merged. One of the things that I have done is sort out a chairman of a committee and we are going to advertise for members of the public to serve on this committee to do random dip sampling of all complaints against police officers, not pre-notified. I have an agreement that that is what we will be doing.
Chair: Mr Lloyd?
Tony Lloyd: The chief constable, who will be with you shortly, and I agreed some time ago, before these issues arose, at least in the way that they are in the public domain now, that we would establish an ethics committee.
Q17 Chair: Consisting of whom?
Tony Lloyd: This will be publicly advertised. We will want people of high reputation, high character, who will have oversight of the whole process of setting of ethical standards for Greater Manchester Police and its dealings across both the conurbation and more generally. I think that is an important step forward.
Q18 Chair: Sir Graham, one example of something you have done to improve the integrity.
Sir Graham Bright: As you may be aware, the APCC has set up a working group on integrity and that is really important. Everyone has signed up to that.
Q19 Chair: Working groups are fine, but what did you do in Cambridgeshire?
Sir Graham Bright: In Cambridgeshire we do have a very high powered audit committee that we asked to review and look at that, which they are doing. I think the way you can keep a lid on this is to ensure that you are holding the chief constable to account, because he is ultimately responsible. It comes out of the operations side mainly. I do that monthly to ensure that that happens.
Q20 Chair: It seems to me that each one of you has set up committees but cannot come up with a specific example of something other than setting up a committee that will try to-
Sir Graham Bright: Well, it is the only way to do it, isn’t it?
Chair: What, set up a committee?
Sir Graham Bright: I intend to set up a committee similar to Tony’s as well, because you just have to keep your hands on it, identify and deal with the problems, get the report back.
Q21 Chair: Do you not think that the public would expect more than that you to set up a committee?
Tony Lloyd: You asked for one example, and I can give you several examples if you will indulge me. One thing that we are in the process of doing is establishing independence within the complaints system. One of the biggest issues for policing is when things go wrong and how that is recovered. Most of those are at a relatively straightforward level. It is a question of getting the appropriate apology. Some are more serious and some at the very high level probably do need to be done away from Greater Manchester. But I would like to believe that if we can bring independence and transparency into the complaints process, that will go a long way to satisfying the public that in particular when the police are judged not to be at fault there is credibility in that situation. It also does mean that when the police are found to have let the-
Sir Graham Bright: We are coming along on the same line.
Ron Ball: With respect, Chairman, it is not just a committee. What I have said is that the job of these individuals will be to turn up at PSD and randomly choose files, so as far as the public are concerned they should get some confidence from that that we are taking this really seriously.
Q22 Mr Clappison: Can I direct this to Mr Lloyd? I think you have a very fair point when you say that it is too early to say whether or not this is a success because you have been in office for such a very short time. I suppose a lot will depend upon the visibility and accessibility of individual commissioners to members of the public, bearing in mind that the previous arrangements were not particularly visible, to say the least, as far as members of the public are concerned. It begs the question of when do you think will be a good time to decide whether or not this has been a success?
Tony Lloyd: I suppose if we stick with the present model it will be when the next round of elections takes place, but in actual fact, as everyone in this Committee knows, any elected politician has to account for their actions almost on a continuous basis. This is not a once every five years process, or in our case a three and a half year process. Some of that is about making sure that the activities that I am engaged in are visible to the public as far as I can.
The good news in this is to compare the figures: recognition of the function of the former police authority was recorded at some 7% of the population; it is 62% of the Police and Crime Commissioners after a year. I don’t want to claim that that means that every member of the public says, "That Tony Lloyd is doing a wonderful job". That would be a little naïve, but I think there has been progress made. The chief constable and I have held an open meeting in every one of the 10 local authority areas across Greater Manchester not simply for the public to attend but for the public to raise questions with both of us. We have had a series of themed forums around issues like dealing with fraud. When I reappointed the chief constable, we had a public hearing with an independent panel to question him about his vision of policing for Greater Manchester. We had a session on integrity, again in public, and yesterday something on domestic abuse. In that case, I was with the assistant chief constable but nevertheless a senior police officer with functional responsibility. I think getting the vision of policing in the public eye but also trying to get across the way in which that vision is translated into practice is important for the public.
Q23 Mr Winnick: Before I turn to public awareness, can I ask were you familiar with the terms cuffing, nodding, skewing, stitching?
Tony Lloyd: I personally wasn’t until I read that report.
Q24 Mr Winnick: But you are familiar now, arising from the evidence given by Dr Rodger Patrick, a former chief inspector of the West Midlands Police. Did you follow the evidence that he and others gave to the Public Administration Committee on crime statistics?
Ron Ball: I have to admit I didn’t.
Q25 Mr Winnick: Presumably, Mr Lloyd and Sir Graham, you didn’t either?
Sir Graham Bright: Until that came to our notice, no.
Tony Lloyd: I read the media reports, Mr Winnick.
Q26 Mr Winnick: I ask because in the evidence given to the Public Administration Committee, these terms were used for the way in which the police apparently under-record crimes and try to show that the statistics are less than what they are. Are you at all shocked that such an allegation could be made? Of course, it is an allegation.
Ron Ball: I don’t rely entirely on recorded crime statistics. There is a British Crime Survey, which in many ways I think is more accurate, and the reductions in crime being registered by recorded crime are actually being echoed, in fact slightly greater reductions are shown in the British Crime Survey. Let me make absolutely clear I have no time whatsoever for fiddling crime statistics. I would in no way condone that, but I don’t think that the current reductions in recorded crime levels are necessarily false as a result of that.
Mr Winnick: If those are the views of the other two, perhaps I can proceed on another matter.
Sir Graham Bright: Just to say on that point, I have gone to great lengths not to set targets, because once you set targets people have something to work to and try to hide. It has to be totally open and you have to look at the overall response as to whether crime is coming down, whether the area that you are looking after is safe. That is the thing you measure not statistics. I think if you put targets in it is a temptation for people.
Q27 Mr Winnick: I take it from the three of you that the crime statistics in your area where you are the Police and Crime Commissioner should be absolutely accurate in all ways.
Tony Lloyd: For the sake of the record, in Greater Manchester there is independent audit of that process. One of the things I want to now examine is how efficient that independent audit process is. That is done by my office. I need to know that it does get to grips with all of the allegations that were put to the Public Administration Committee.
Q28 Mr Winnick: Turning to another aspect, Mr Lloyd, in answer to the Chair you said you were in favour of Police and Crime Commissioners continuing.
Tony Lloyd: I personally believe-I speak now for me and not for the APCC-that there are some things in the model of the Police and Crime Commissioners that we need to examine. There are considerable powers that a commissioner can operate independently of anybody else, in effect. I think we do need to look at that. That said, what I would invite the Committee to examine is the capacity of the commissioner model to effect change much more quickly and probably far better than any previous model. I will give you an example of this, if I may. In Greater Manchester there is something called the Local Criminal Justice Board, which brings together the prison service, probation, policing, local authorities and so on. I am a member of that. That is what I am working through at that level. I chair the Criminal Justice Transformation Board, which is about trying to find ways where we work together as a total system. Having the electoral mandate of a police commissioner to chair that board can make a profound difference. Members of this Committee may be aware that I voted against the commissioner model when it went through Parliament.
Q29 Mr Winnick: I was going to say that you have in fact gone native, but would that not be fair, Mr Lloyd?
Tony Lloyd: It does mean, Mr Winnick, that those who come to recognise the strengths of the model, having questioned it in the first place, at least can recognise those strengths. I have not ignored the fact that there are some weaknesses but not weaknesses that should allow us to throw away the benefits that the model can deliver.
Q30 Mr Winnick: I have before me the statement from the Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones, who obviously you all know, in my area of the West Midlands, and he is rather sceptical of any progress that is being made. He said PCCs are more visible than police authorities but not much more as public awareness remains very low. No one can doubt that he is a person who has been involved with the police as a layperson over many years and was a very competent chair of the West Midlands Police Authority; I don’t think there is any dispute about that. He feels after a short time, a relatively short time admittedly, that not much has been achieved, either by crime coming down in any way, being reduced, or in fact public awareness. Do you think he is being too harsh?
Tony Lloyd: Yes, I do. I know Bob Jones very well and I have a lot of respect for his knowledge and what he tries to do himself, but I think he is being harsh. If I claimed I had had a material impact on crime falling in Greater Manchester, which it has done in my time, I think this Committee would rightly think I was being a little arrogant in such a short space of time, but nor would I accept responsibility had the trend gone the other way over such a brief period. Bob Jones’ point about the visibility of commissioners does matter. The public has to have confidence in policing governance, and that is true. By the way, if your Committee looks at alternative models, that ought to be something that you examine: how do the public get involved in that governance model?
There are other things, for example if you were take one of the issues that every Police and Crime Commissioner is concerned with, the impact of mental health on community safety, the need to have a joined-up system between the National Health Service, the mental health services in particular, and policing, I would say to you, Mr Winnick, and to this Committee that the capacity of a commissioner to drive through change in that area is much more direct than it would be under any other-
Q31 Mr Winnick: My last question-and perhaps a yes or no answer-do you accept that it is quite likely that as far as Police and Crime Commissioners’ positions are concerned it is very much a matter of being on probation? Whatever colour the next Government may be, whether it continues or not is a matter of seeing what occurs over the next two years. Do you think that is correct, Sir Graham?
Chair: A yes or a no would be good.
Sir Graham Bright: Yes or no, okay. It is, yes, we are on probation and the next election will be the judgment day.
Tony Lloyd: Yes.
Ron Ball: I am happy to be judged on my record.
Q32 Michael Ellis: Do you think the Stevens report was a politically driven report?
Tony Lloyd: If the last one was a yes or no, I will say no to that one.
Ron Ball: As far as the Stevens report is concerned, there is a lot in it that I agree with and there is a lot in it that we are already doing, but there are some suggestions in it with which I profoundly disagree.
Sir Graham Bright: It was commissioned by the Labour Party. Of course it was politically driven. It is fair for the Labour Party to look at it if they get elected next time.
Tony Lloyd: Whether I agree with the recommendations or not, nevertheless John Stevens and those who took part in that commission were people of some significance.
Q33 Michael Ellis: I don’t deny that, Mr Lloyd, forgive me, but it is vested interests, isn’t it? If we ask retired chief police officers, we are talking here about vested interests. Would you not say that it is at least fair to say that there are some at the top end of the police establishment who don’t want to see these police reforms taking place, who don’t want to see the police establishment dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and there is a political motivation behind rubbishing the work of Police and Crime Commissioners? It is apparent, is it not, from the posturing that goes on? Would you agree or disagree?
Ron Ball: Again, if I can just chip in. For my bit in Warwickshire, I don’t recognise dragging my chief constable kicking and screaming into the 21st century. The introduction I had has been extremely good. We have had a really good working relationship.
Q34 Michael Ellis: I am talking in generality here. I am not talking about your chief constable. You represent on the association.
Sir Graham Bright: I can honestly say that I have not had any problem with the Cambridgeshire force. I went in saying that I thought this was a really good idea and I wanted to make it work, that I had my tee-shirt already, I wasn’t climbing a greasy pole, would they join me, and they have joined in making this work. I think that noises off have been far more dramatic. Some of the media has had it in for us right the way through. They have given us a lot of publicity, mind you, and those of us who have responded have got a higher profile.
Q35 Michael Ellis: But you detect a sort of urge to knock it down without giving it a chance to see whether it-
Sir Graham Bright: Absolutely. It was certainly the case with the media from day one.
Q36 Michael Ellis: Do you two agree?
Tony Lloyd: Certainly parts of the media have been consistently hostile. I think what is true, Mr Ellis, while I do agree with you, is that, as in any institution, policing has its small "c" conservative areas. Of course that is true. It would be remarkable if that were not the case and there is no doubt there is a need for change. You will talk to the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, my own chief constable, shortly. I don’t speak for him, but I think if you were to ask him he also recognises the need for huge change in the area of policing. Within that context, responding to your original question about Lord Stevens and his commission, if you were to say did that have a small "p" political agenda, I am sure that, like all structures, that is true. I don’t think it is helpful that it is necessarily in party political terms, because they were people of repute, whether I agree or disagree with the conclusions.
Q37 Michael Ellis: There is talk about only 7% of people knowing about the PCCs, the Police and Crime Commissioners. Have you heard those stats?
Sir Graham Bright: That was the case at the election but the latest stats show it is 62%, so in the passage of a year that is a huge jump.
Michael Ellis: It is a huge jump because after 30 years of the police authorities existing, I think it was only 6% or 7% of people that could name a member of the police authority so, to get it in context, the actual recognition for Police and Crime Commissioners is very high.
Q38 Chair: On that point, you said, Mr Lloyd, that there is still a battle to be fought to make the public aware that the commissioner exists, the visibility, "I’m here". Apart from jumping on a horse and going through the middle of Coventry, Mr Ball, what other methods have you taken, just one method that you have adopted to try to become more visible?
Ron Ball: One of the things that I am definitely getting benefit from is a much more open attitude to the media in terms of local radio stations. I made it absolutely clear from the outset that I would not do media training, that there were no pre-set questions, and that is the style of operation I want to run.
Q39 Chair: One thing that you have done; just talking to the media a lot?
Ron Ball: Well, just being available to the media, and that is already paying dividends in terms of recognition.
Q40 Chair: Mr Lloyd, just one thing you have done to be more visible?
Tony Lloyd: I have adopted the select committee approach. For example, I had a hearing on the dealing with fraud. I asked Graham Brady, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Altrincham and Sale, to join me when we challenged the chief constable and Action Fraud on how they handle it. I have done similar around domestic abuse. When the chief constable was reappointed, I had an independent panel to challenge him.
Q41 Chair: So public hearings and things of that kind. Sir Graham, something you have done?
Sir Graham Bright: I have got out and about, street surgeries. I have 368 parish councils that we are engaging with for the first time ever. They were left out. I wanted to go to the frontline. I do public meetings of all sorts.
Q42 Chair: Excellent. So it is like being back as a local MP?
Sir Graham Bright: It is like being back as a local MP, yes.
Q43 Mark Reckless: Mr Ball, in terms of your visibility, of course you demanded this review of the Plebgate in Sutton Coldfield, even though it wasn’t your force. We saw you on Newsnight. Some of the stuff from that review came out and helped this Committee get that reopened, so much credit for that, if I may say so.
Ron Ball: Thank you.
Mark Reckless: Can I ask you and your colleagues again about the Stevens report. One of the suggestions it came out with is perhaps you could be replaced with meetings of council leaders for the relevant area and we can look to them to hold the chief constable to account and appoint and dismiss him and check what he is up to and make sure it is in the interests of the public. Do you think council leaders would have the same opportunity to do that work as you have as elected individuals?
Ron Ball: No. I thought the press release that Tony put out yesterday very eloquently explained the problem with doing that in terms of confusion of roles. I admit to being sceptical about commissioners to start with, and it is not just because I am doing the job but I really do think that across the country my colleagues are putting in a huge amount of time and that is from all parties or no party. I think it is working pretty well so far and we just need to let it bed down and see how we do.
Tony Lloyd: I essentially agree with what Mr Ball said. The danger is that if we simply ask the local authority leaders to take on the role we are re-creating the former police authority, albeit it is possibly a higher grade of council, if that is not unkind to those who were-
Mark Reckless: And with people who are rather busier doing other things.
Tony Lloyd: Exactly right, that these are people who have a complicated role in its own right, and whether policing would ever emerge as a priority is a really important question.
Sir Graham Bright: It would be going backwards. It would certainly slow things down, no question about it. One of the things I have tried to do is to link all the authorities within Cambridgeshire together so that we can get people working in one direction, and that would be an incredibly difficult thing to do if each of them had a stake in trying to run the police. I know you can look at local policing but that happens anyway. So I believe that it is having one person who can focus just on one thing, the police, and they can all come and talk to me, as they do, and I go and talk to them.
Q44 Mark Reckless: But putting your shoes into a chief constable, might it not be quite attractive to have council leaders every now and again meeting for a chat, holding you to account and you might hope perhaps to carry on doing what you like without anyone getting in the way of that? Isn’t that perhaps the attraction for some of the senior retired officers on the Stevens review?
Sir Graham Bright: The thought of divide and rule comes to mind.
Tony Lloyd: Can I also make another point?
Chair: Could you do it as quickly as you can? We are just falling a bit behind on time.
Tony Lloyd: Just very quickly then, if I may. In actual fact local government is a very important partner of policing, but in operating in that partnership role it should be doing what local government does well, which is running, for example, the children’s services and those things that the police want to work with. We can join those up, but the model of separate accountability is an important one in this and then the challenge is from me to the council leaders and the council leaders back to me to make sure that we perform our roles properly.
Q45 Mark Reckless: Ron Ball, if Sir Albert Bore and his successor at Birmingham had been responsible for holding the police to account over this Plebgate saga in Sutton Coldfield, do you think they would have given it the same level of attention and proactively required a report in the way that you did?
Ron Ball: It is a bit of a hypothetical question. I don’t think I could have done more. I think looking back at it, I am happy with all the decisions that I took and I took them quickly. Whether another body would have taken longer, I think it probably would have, in all honesty.
Chair: I think the whole Committee endorses what Mr Reckless has said about your views on this and how you reopened the whole inquiry. We are grateful for that.
Ron Ball: Thank you.
Q46 Ian Austin: If all this work to raise your profile and engagement of the public works, what do you think the turnout would be at the next elections? What would you hope it would be?
Ron Ball: It is going to coincide with the local elections, isn’t it, so I would anticipate it is probably going to be around the 30% mark. That would be my guess at this stage.
Sir Graham Bright: I would certainly go along with that. We were labouring against it last time. We had an election in November, which was completely out of sync with anything else, dark cold nights, and there was no freepost either. I spent all of my time not asking people to vote for me but telling people what the job was all about. Now that has come over and people can see it working, I agree that by tagging along with the county council elections I would be looking for 35%, 40% if we could get there.
Tony Lloyd: As a Member of Parliament, I had the second lowest turnout of any MP in Britain.
Chair: And the biggest majority, I think.
Tony Lloyd: Well, I now have the biggest majority as a commissioner. I would hope that we will see a significant improvement. It is difficult to specify a figure, quite honestly. It is going to go up.
Q47 Dr Huppert: I was struck when we were talking about the independence of the Independent Police Commission, I looked up the website and a pop-up comes up that says, "The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better", which is an interesting definition of independence, but websites can be very revealing.
I would like to ask about police and crime panels and their role, but before I do that can I ask a very specific question to Sir Graham? Obviously we have mutual constituents. This Committee has an interest in undercover officers. We have had discussions about that before. You will be aware that an officer from a covert unit in Cambridgeshire sought to recruit a young man to inform about what was happening, to target student union type stuff that was happening among students. Undercover officers have a role. Do you think, as a matter of policy, that that is the role that undercover officers ought to have within a police force?
Sir Graham Bright: That was very much an operational matter.
Dr Huppert: I thought you might say that.
Sir Graham Bright: I was unaware it was happening. I spoke to the chief constable instantly I knew about it to ask why it was being done. It was obvious why it was being done. Were we within the rules? There was a 2000 Act that spelt out quite clearly what the rules were to that. Our police service is monitored and inspected by the appropriate authority and there is no reason to believe they acted outside the remit that they had. You and I know that there is always that sort of activity taking place. One dreads to think that something would happen in Cambridge like it did in Woolwich. It has to go on, but the thing is to ensure that it is done in the right way and sticks to the rule. The rules are there quite clearly for everyone to read. I have sent all the students who wrote to me details of that Act and have had some very nice letters back thanking me for setting it all out for them.
Q48 Dr Huppert: There clearly is a role for undercover officers. I think many people question whether monitoring a student union is one of them. But just to be clear, is your policy decision on this that Cambridgeshire constabulary should operate just in the framework of what the existing law is? You don’t have any other policy decisions.
Sir Graham Bright: Not at all, no.
Q49 Dr Huppert: Thank you for clearing that up. Can I move on to police and crime panels? Mr Lloyd, you have argued that police and crime panels should be strengthened and in particular should have the power to recall commissioners, as I understand it. Is that right and can you say a bit more about that?
Tony Lloyd: Yes. I have to emphasise I don’t speak now as the chair of the APCC. I speak as Tony Lloyd, individual. I have followed the debate about recall of Members of Parliament, as everybody in this room will have done. I think there is a case for recall but we need to set a very specific-and I don’t want to use the word "high" bar but it has to be one that can’t be triggered by either whim or political considerations. It has to be done against some standard, a test of public interest. I think it is not just for commissioners, because commissioners have a unique role. A Member of Parliament, for example, is one of a large assembly. A commissioner is sui generis in his or her own area. I think the powers of a commissioner exercised in a reckless, unacceptable fashion have to be examined. How do we control that? We can control it by giving countermanding powers to the police and crime panels but I think that would run counter to the concept.
Q50 Dr Huppert: That is helpful, and I will come to other two in a second about this, but can I follow up on whether you think there are other aspects of the police and crime panels that should also be strengthened, or is it just about recall?
Tony Lloyd: The 10 local authority leaders make up the police and crime panel in my own area. I welcome that because that does mean that when they concentrate on the public process of asking me to justify what I do, it is a high powered structure. I would welcome that as being the universal model, quite frankly, that it is at that level.
Q51 Dr Huppert: Can I also ask each of you how often you have been before your panels? A factual number would be helpful.
Ron Ball: Four times I think since the election. My view is that my police and crime panel are a bit like the public in some ways in that they are struggling to understand the system and understand the role. I think that there is scope-and this is probably true across the country-for police and crime panels to be a bit more assertive themselves within the existing rules. So I would not necessarily be looking for strengthening of powers. I think there could be a contradiction. What they can’t do is interfere with the programme. If I am standing on a manifesto for what then happens to be some sort of mixture between what I am standing on and what the police and crime panel have approved, that invalidates the model as far as I see it.
Sir Graham Bright: I have been before five police and crime panels so far, and I think it is fair to say they too are new and are bedding in and finding their feet. My office and I take them extremely seriously. We spend a lot of time getting ready for police and crime panels so that we can answer their questions. We offer to give reports, which we do, and we have had informal briefings on one or two things that are going on so that they are aware of it. They are there, of course, not just to hold us to account but sometimes support us. If you read the legislation, that is so, and obviously there has to be a working relationship there. But as I see it at the moment, they are able to hold me to account for anything they want to. They can ask for reports and get them. As I say, we take the police and crime panel extremely seriously, knowing that we have to satisfy them.
Q52 Dr Huppert: One very brief question, what other opportunities are you each looking at for public scrutiny? Sir Graham, I think you refused to attend a meeting of the county council’s safe and strong communities overview and scrutiny committee, which doesn’t suggest you are keen to see other efforts of scrutiny. Do any of you want to see other public scrutiny bodies?
Sir Graham Bright: I think the police and crime panel are the people that scrutinise us. We obviously go and speak to local authorities, which I do, say what we are doing, share things with them.
Q53 Dr Huppert: But you would not go in front of one of their scrutiny committees.
Sir Graham Bright: In that particular instance, when it is the county council, you have got a number of them on the police and crime panel anyway, and that is the way forward, to go through them, otherwise I would be forever attending scrutiny committees. You have one you can focus on and everyone can ask questions of them to ask me, and that is the way forward.
Q54 Paul Flynn: Powerful persuasive arguments were given last week in evidence on why there is pressure on the police to understate the crime figures, for reasons of promotion and personal reputation, to please political masters and the public. If those figures are to an endemic process, so we were told, it is your job to try to correct this to restore integrity. If you do that, the police crime figures will rise. You will be facing a democratic vote in a few years time. Do you think it would be persuasive to say to the public, "Here we are, PCCs, we have doubled the crime figures"? If that is the case, which it is likely to be, aren’t you more likely to go native and join in with the situation that has been going on for so long to understate the figures on crimes?
Tony Lloyd: If the decision were entirely mine, Mr Flynn, I think you would be able to say that is why there has to be a process of independent audit.
Q55 Paul Flynn: How independent is it, Tony? You say you have an independent audit. Who runs it?
Tony Lloyd: These are professional auditors who perform the role from my office.
Q56 Paul Flynn: Are they involved with the police at all?
Tony Lloyd: No, they are entirely independent. They exist within my office and they audit. The point you make is right. The only thing I would say is that every one of us knows that there are some crimes that are endemically underreported, things like rape and domestic violence. We know that if we do it better, one of the consequences will be a rise in reporting.
Q57 Paul Flynn: But aren’t you likely to fall into the same position as those who run the police services in America and have to face election, in that you give the public what they want? You give them reductions in the crimes that they are worried about and not possibly those crimes that are far more serious that they are not concerned about. Won’t you be playing to the gallery?
Sir Graham Bright: No. You have to be totally open and transparent. I make an absolute rule of that all the time. You can fool the public sometimes but not all the time and you have to deal with what the situation is. At the moment crime figures tend to be levelling off. They have been coming down for some time. They are starting to level off and that is a warning signal, certainly to me, to have a look at those areas, to get the chief constable to report on them, to hold him accountable. That is what it is all about. If, heaven forbid, we do get crime figures rising, we have to accept that and deal with it, not try to hide it. As I say, you can fool people sometimes but not all the time. People are very well aware of what is going on around them. With the reporting we have through Neighbourhood Watch, eCops and everything else, it is quite clear to everyone what is happening out there.
Tony Lloyd: There is another role as well. I am not the police and it is important that I remind myself every morning that I am not the police. What policing needs is some level of analysis, wherever that is done, whether it is the Home Affairs Select Committee, a Police and Crime Commissioner or a policy authority, that can say what is the causality of change. I make now a partisan point as a Labour politician. I am concerned that recession will have an impact, and is beginning to show some signs of having an impact, on the kind of acquisitive crime that relates to recession. I am concerned that if we see cuts in policing that that will have an impact on the capacity of policing to respond to crime reduction.
Q58 Paul Flynn: While you represent the PCCs, you are not typical of them. A large number of the PCCs are former policemen or have been involved in police politics for years. Isn’t it unlikely that we are going to see the root and branch reform on crime statistics that we need by people who are part of the groupthink of police?
Tony Lloyd: At every level, one thing that this Committee is in a very powerful position to do is to make the case for exactly that kind of independence of audit that would give the public reassurance that those figures are not open to me or any of my colleagues or anybody else.
Q59 Yasmin Qureshi: Mr Ball, I want to explore with you the benefit of the strategic alliance that has taken place between your area and West Mercia. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the benefits that have accrued and in your opinion is there scope for other police areas to do a similar thing as well?
Ron Ball: You will be pleased, Chairman, I have asked Tony Lloyd to kick me in the shins if I go on too long about this, because I am an absolute total advocate of the-
Chair: Well, I won’t let you go on for too long, because we have other witnesses. If he kicks you in the shin, there are a couple of police officers who might arrest him, so please don’t.
Ron Ball: It is difficult to overestimate the value of the alliance to us. The previous police authority did a superb job. This is their baby not mine, so I don’t get the credit for this. Without it, I think Warwickshire would have struggled to survive as an independent force. We were set the target of saving something over £30 million from 2010 to 2015, which because of the alliance we are well on track to do. In fact we are slightly ahead of target as far as that is concerned. For those who are not aware of it, effectively below the level of deputy chief constable we have now one police force. All of the independent bodies that were, firearms units or dogs or whatever, we now have one, so instead of doing things twice we do them once. It is tremendously valuable.
Q60 Yasmin Qureshi: What do you think other areas could do and how would they be able to benefit from such alliances?
Ron Ball: I think the way to achieve it is it has to be done from the bottom up. It is a difficult thing to do by imposing from above. With ever tighter resources, I think forces should come and have a look at what we have done. But the thing is that both forces understood and realised the benefits of doing it, and so when it came to doing the really difficult stuff it was possible to do that. We had strong leadership to do it, but to try to impose it from above would be a disaster and I don’t think it would work.
Q61 Yasmin Qureshi: A final question for all of the commissioners, what are you doing to develop the blue light services collaborations?
Sir Graham Bright: Strangely enough, I had a meeting with the fire and rescue service yesterday. We are working in collaboration with both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, so the three forces are coming together and already making dramatic savings and increasing the facilities and services. We had a serious crime in Peterborough that would have stopped us in our tracks, just like Soham did, but it didn’t because we were able to call on all the other resources. The other thing is that we are looking at blue lights between all three counties as well, so we could have a control centre for the police and fire services for the three counties. That is only a twinkle in the eye at the moment but that is what we are aiming to do.
Q62 Chair: When you call the police you won’t get an ambulance coming?
Sir Graham Bright: Well, we are not doing ambulances at the moment. We are looking at fire. It is a twinkle in the eye but I am quite convinced we are going to deliver.
Tony Lloyd: I am due to meet the chair of the fire and rescue service this week. Can I make the point, Mr Vaz, that the kind of collaboration that would liberate both economic benefits and a better service for the public aren’t only or even necessarily best done with the blue lights services. Vehicle maintenance, for example, may be better done with the one of the local authorities. Collaboration with things like the probation service and HMIC, DWP, where colocation with those services already exists in Greater Manchester, delivers a better service in fighting crime and making our communities safer.
Ron Ball: Likewise, on Friday I am meeting the head of the fire service in Warwickshire.
Q63 Ian Austin: I think it is fantastic to hear the success of this collaboration between yourselves and West Mercia. Can I ask two questions about that? If you have effectively merged the forces below the rank of deputy chief constable, why not go the whole way and have one chief constable and one commissioner?
Ron Ball: I have commissioned a report on that. I think to do one chief constable now would be too early. You face the position of how is one chief constable held to account by two commissioners. That is a very difficult position to resolve. In terms of whether or not we go the whole hog for a merger, I have commissioned a report, together with my colleague Bill Longmore in West Mercia, to look at the mechanics of how that would be achieved.
Q64 Ian Austin: Secondly, very quickly, is what you have said not evidence of the case for wider mergers and wider collaboration? What is the argument against this effectively merged force working much more closely with the West Midlands police force or West Staffordshire, for example?
Ron Ball: There are two elements, operational and political. If you talk to the senior police officers, they are full steam ahead for a full blown merger. I think there are political considerations and I just think we need to do that. Basically, what I say is if that is what the people of Warwickshire want then it is not up to me to stand in their way, but they need to be able to have a say on this.
Q65 Ian Austin: If the chief constables think it would be better for operational policing, surely you ought to listen to them.
Ron Ball: That is not the only argument. Operationally, I don’t think there is any question that that would be more efficient and cheaper, but we have a proud tradition in Warwickshire Police. We provided the director for the National Crime Agency, for instance, and I think the local people and the local politicians need to have a say first on the Warwickshire Police disappearing as an entity.
Q66 Chair: A quick question on transparency. We published a register of PCCs’ interests earlier this year because one was not being published. Who will be publishing the next one, Mr Lloyd?
Tony Lloyd: I hope the Home Office would do that. They are the best equipped organisation to resource it and to bring that together.
Q67 Chair: Yes, so do we. That is why we published it, because they refused. They kept saying that it was up to you to do it.
Tony Lloyd: I think all of my colleagues, as far as I am aware, now have local publication, obviously in the end local people knowing what I am doing is right and proper. I would very much welcome the collation as a national structure, and I think all my colleagues would agree with that. We honestly do believe that it should be the Home Office that resources that.
Q68 Chair: We do too, but we have said that until they do we will continue to publish once a year.
Secondly, on diversity, what have you done, Sir Graham, to improve diversity in Cambridgeshire in terms of gender and race? A very quick answer. How many people have you appointed to your team who are either black or Asian or women?
Sir Graham Bright: I think I have almost a total team of women. There is one man, so we have made a big effort to bring those people in.
Q69 Chair: And ethnic minorities?
Sir Graham Bright: As far as ethnic minorities, not in my office but within the police, big efforts.
Chair: No, in your office. We know about the police.
Sir Graham Bright: I haven’t any ethnic minority people in my office.
Q70 Chair: Mr Lloyd?
Tony Lloyd: I am losing staff, Mr Vaz, at the moment, but what I can say is the good news is that-
Chair: You are losing staff?
Tony Lloyd: Yes.
Chair: To whom?
Tony Lloyd: Because of the need to downsize the office. This is an issue that the chief constable and I have discussed. In an area of enormous diversity like Greater Manchester, our police force, our police service doesn’t reflect that diversity. What we have is a much more proactive recruitment process beginning to show some dividends, less in warranted police officers because the numbers of new officers is very tiny, but in terms of PCSOs, specials and-
Chair: And in your own office?
Tony Lloyd: In my own office, as I say, at the moment I am not appointing staff.
Q71 Chair: Do you have any ethnic minorities or women in your office?
Tony Lloyd: Yes, a considerable number of women and a number of people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Q72 Chair: Mr Ball?
Ron Ball: There is an argument at the moment, Chairman, that I have zero staff in my office, in that the ones I inherited are no longer with me and I have just had 120 applications for three positions. We have whittled that down to 16 and I think it is four to one women to men of that 16. I will be interviewing on Friday and Monday of next week.
Q73 Chair: Excellent. Thank you to all three of you for coming here today. Obviously we will continue the dialogue with the association as we progress and if there are any areas you wish us to look at we will be delighted to look at whatever you suggest. Thank you very much.
Ron Ball: Can I make one very small point, Chairman? My colleagues will be more familiar with the procedures of the House than I am, but is it in order to wish you a happy birthday today?
Chair: It is, but no presents, I am afraid. Thank you very much, Mr Ball.
Witnesses: Sir Hugh Orde, President, Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Peter Fahy, Vice President, Association of Chief Police Officers, and Colette Paul, Chief Constable, Bedfordshire Police, gave evidence.
Q74 Chair: Sir Hugh, Sir Peter-I feel as if I should make you a dame for the purposes of these proceedings, just to make it all equal. Thank you for coming. I apologise for the delay. As you know, there were two votes. Sir Hugh, as we begin our evidence today, Andrew Mitchell is conducting a press conference about what happened in Downing Street. Do you welcome the decision to prosecute officers for misconduct and for criminal charges as a view to ending this very long saga that seems to have gone on now for over a year?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think a great strength of the British system of justice, Chairman, is that it is an independent decision by people well qualified to make it and it would be wrong for me to comment upon it. I entirely share your view that this does need to be brought to a conclusion and this is a major step in that direction.
Q75 Chair: Do you think that Plebgate has damaged the reputation of the police, in particular the way it has been handled?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think any event of such significance and such publicity has the potential to damage police public relations, Chairman. You are entirely right and we have had those conversations over many years in this Committee, be it the historic inquiries through to current day events. I think what is important is when they are discovered they are faced up to and dealt with in a transparent and open way. What is interesting, I think, at the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record, is the evidence to date is that the independent views, independent surveys of competence in policing remain remarkably stable. My sense of that is it is judged as much on police public interactions at the frontline of policing, which my colleagues are far better qualified to speak about now than I am, than they are about the major events that take place in Westminster or at times when many people in many instances were not even born, important though they are.
Q76 Chair: Two of you, Sir Hugh and Colette Paul, served in the Metropolitan Police. Sir Peter, I don’t think served in the Met. I may be wrong. You didn’t? Were you as shocked as members of this Committee were and Parliament was to hear that the crime figures were being fiddled, in effect, by officers in order to bring them down, especially in respect of rape and sexual offences cases? Colette Paul?
Colette Paul: I was surprised by the level that was uncovered at the Public Administration meeting. Yes, I was.
Q77 Chair: And this does not reflect what is happening in your own area? You have not given an instruction and nobody has come up to you and said, "By the way, Chief Constable, crime is down in Bedfordshire because we have fiddled the figures"?
Colette Paul: Not at all. In fact, we have quite a rigorous audit process in Bedfordshire and when you look at it for recorded crime there is 98% compliance rate. We check that monthly and we always have an independent audit as well.
Q78 Chair: Sir Hugh, this is a Met issue. As the President of ACPO, you would be alarmed if senior officers knew this was happening and connived to ensure that it continued. You have no evidence to suggest this was approved of at a very high level?
Sir Hugh Orde: Any public debate that raises issues of integrity in policing is very important. I know that my colleague Jeff Farrar of Gwent Police will be speaking to the Administration Committee and has already submitted written evidence in his role as a national policing lead. I have heard today three Police and Crime Commissioners explain to you the checks and challenges they have put in place to reassure them that in their forces this was not an issue. You have heard Colette Paul, and I know Peter has a very clear view on this. You are right, I served in the Metropolitan Police for 26 years in senior ranks up to deputy assistant commissioner and I worked direct to Lord Stevens. But when I was in charge of Hounslow, I never put my officers under any pressure to change or fiddle figures. What was critical to me as a leader was a clear understanding of what was going on.
I think the world is far more complicated and I think there were very good answers from the Police and Crime Commissioners, certainly Sir Graham, on the outcome at the frontline and the complexity and the challenges frontline officers face when trying to deliver very good outcomes for victims against a very rigid, black and white system of reporting. I think that is part of the complexity, none of which takes away from the bottom line that the vast majority of police officers in this country act with complete integrity.
Q79 Chair: Sir Peter, this does not happen in Greater Manchester? You have not given an instruction that in order to meet targets PCs are to massage and manipulate figures? You have never heard of this before until somebody brought it before the PASC?
Sir Peter Fahy: Any senior police officer always has to be aware-indeed, any leader of the public service has to be aware-that if you go too hard on performance statistics there is always the risk that some staff will try to manipulate those in recording practices. I have to be honest, I have never been naïve about that. If you go way back in police history, there has been a series of these sorts of stories. You always have to have very strong procedures but it is also the way you operate your performance regime, that you are not putting too much focus on one particular statistic. I have to be honest, when people come to me when either crime is up or down, the first thing I ask is, "Is it a recording issue?" You must not be naïve about this. It is about the way that we operate the performance regime.
I think one benefit from having Police and Crime Commissioners, certainly in my context, is the fact that we have removed this obsession with statistics and taken a much broader view of performance. I am not just interested in crime statistics. It is looking at the whole basket of measures: the more serious crime, the level of public perception, the quality of service, the use of resources, police integrity. It is quite easy for a police leader to just chase a simple statistic, and you must never be naïve about that.
Colette Paul: I have encouraged more reporting around some crimes, which will have an impact on crime figures. For example, sexual offences, domestic violence, hate crime are areas. I am very much supported by the PCC as well on these. Over and above that, there is a lot of criminality that becomes crime when police focus on it, drugs and other issues. We have encouraged a more sophisticated look at crime performance.
Q80 Chair: Turning to PCCs and the Stevens report, Sir Hugh, you must be absolutely delighted with the outcome of this report, because I think you were one of the early critics of the establishment of Police and Crime Commissioners. Were you rubbing your hands with glee when you saw the words, "The model has fatal systemic flaws"?
Sir Hugh Orde: I see Mr Reckless smiling at me, Chairman. No, and I have been very clear, as you are well aware and as this Committee is well aware, from the moment this became a manifesto commitment that it was not a matter for the service to comment on how we are held to account. Likewise, Lord Stevens, who you know I know very well, has written a report. I have got to page 104 of it. It is a substantial piece of work. But it is a matter for the Government of the day to decide whether or not they want to change it looking forward.
Q81 Chair: Sure, but you are the President of ACPO. You have views on everything. ACPO always has a policy, you always can produce witnesses for this Committee-we are very grateful. You are one of the leading police officers in the whole of Europe. How can you take a vow of silence on PCCs when you don’t take a vow of silence on anything else?
Sir Hugh Orde: Precisely because it is outwith our remit. It is how we are held to account, Chairman. In a democratic society, that is not for us. If I may gently correct, on policy now of course it is the National College of Policing and not ACPO, and we are very supportive of that change.
Q82 Chair: We all have huge respect for Lord Stevens. Colette Paul was a staff officer to Lord Stevens and Sir Hugh Orde worked with him. You must have respect for people like Lord Stevens, Lord Condon, Peter Neyroud, all the other good and the great who served on this committee. They say that PCCs have left morale at rock bottom, that they have actually helped the mistrust that the public has in the police. This is a damning indictment, is it not?
Sir Peter Fahy: I have to admit, I don’t recognise that. I have absolute respect for the individuals that you have named, but my contention would be that they have not operated with it on the ground day to day, as I have. I don’t recognise the connection between Police and Crime Commissioners and police morale. I think that has been the result of the economic situation and also a stream of negative stories in the press and all sorts of issues around pay and conditions. With due respect, they have not operated the system and they have not had to operate the system during a time of the greatest challenge the police service has ever faced because of the economic situation. I would have to say that on the whole having one person who holds you to account and you can work with very closely and is able to provide a lot more local flexibility has worked very well, particularly in this current situation. With due respect, I would say that some of the individuals have very remarkable records of service but on the other hand have never had to lead through austerity in the way we are having to lead at the moment.
Q83 Chair: Chief Constable Paul, Lord Stevens must have one supporter on the panel. You worked with him as a staff officer. That is a pretty close relationship. He is a man of integrity. 37 people have served on this committee, not just Labour Party people incidentally. I don’t think that Lord Dholakia, Lord Carlile and Sir Richard Dearlove are members of the Labour Party. Is there nothing to commend anything that Lord Stevens has said?
Colette Paul: Absolutely. Of course there is, and it is a very complex report. He comments on a lot of different issues. What I would say is that I have worked in a range of different governance arrangements. I worked in the Met with the GLA, the Mayor and the police authority. I worked in South Wales where they had a police authority where they had all the elected leaders on the police authority, and now I have worked with a Police and Crime Commissioner in South Wales, which is Alun Michael, and I work with Olly Martins within Bedfordshire. I have had a range and dealt with a range of different governance arrangements. What I would say around the PCCs, and I have a very good relationship with both Alun Michael-
Chair: Remind us who your commissioner is.
Colette Paul: It is Olly Martins in Bedfordshire. I have a very good relationship with him. He does hold me to account. It is a critical but very friendly relationship and things get done much quicker.
Q84 Chair: Better than what was there before?
Colette Paul: I didn’t experience the police authority in Bedfordshire but I did experience the police authority in South Wales, which had leaders on it. They both have things that worked well.
Q85 Chair: Are you quite happy for PCCs to stay?
Colette Paul: Of course I am. It is not my position to say, obviously, but yes I am.
Q86 Chair: Sir Hugh, are you happy for them to stay?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am delighted for the Government of the day to say how we are held to account, Chairman. In the broader aspects of Lord Stevens’ report, there are many things that chime with the current structure as well as the future proposed structures. It is a complex report that covers just about the totality of policing. It needs to be seriously considered and looked at but we are in very early days. At the risk of sounding like this cracked record, governance is not a matter for the service. That is one of the great strengths of our model.
Q87 Mr Winnick: The police have taken a few hard knocks, Sir Hugh and your colleagues, in the last few years, which I won’t mention because they are all well known. How much damage do you think this Plebgate affair will do to the police force as a whole and not necessarily just to the Met?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think my colleagues are better placed to talk about the operational impact at the frontline. The feedback I am getting is that this is not a debate that takes place between frontline officers and the people they are protecting on a day-to-day basis. We are being judged on what we deliver. That is not to say it is not important and it is not to say that it should not be dealt with and investigated thoroughly. But as I said at the beginning, if one looks, going back 10 or 15 years, at competence in policing levels-and some are to be found fairly up to date in Lord Stevens’ report-where police fit in the hierarchy still remains at the top end of it in terms of public servants and how trustworthy they are. I know Peter and Colette have far more experience than I have of the impact on the frontline.
Sir Peter Fahy: Obviously it is an extremely concerning case, but this has not been raised in all the public fora that I hold in Greater Manchester with the Police and Crime Commissioner. We are tested in Greater Manchester every single day by the over 1,000 incidents we deal with, the big events that we police, the serious crimes we investigate, and I think that is what the public judges us on. That is why I think also in the whole issue about accountability, whatever method you have, what is key is the responsiveness of local policing, how we deal with an issue that the public have. I think that is how we judge it. It is not to say Plebgate is not extremely serious but, as I say, the public judge us in a different way day in, day out, in a very focused way, and that is what they judge our performance on.
Mr Winnick: Our constituents may well ask should an incident that lasted at most five minutes, probably less than five minutes, at Downing Street and then the allegations that were made and counter-allegations, have taken all this amount of time to come to some sort of conclusion? Don’t you feel, the three of you, that it could have been done in a much shorter time, bearing in mind the vast amount of public expenditure?
Chair: Chief Constable Paul, would you like to respond?
Colette Paul: I wish that it had been done in a much shorter time, I have to say that, with its impact on public confidence. I would agree with Sir Peter around the fact that I do not get asked about this locally, but it does have an impact. It hits the newspapers every day and obviously it does have an impact, and within the policing service we are talking about it. But publicly, I have to say I support Sir Peter. I have not been asked about that locally.
Q88 Mr Winnick: Just on statistics, can I say, like the rest of my colleagues, whichever party we happen to belong to, that none of this criticism reflects on the sheer bravery of police officers, and we know only too well those who have lost their lives carrying out their day-to-day duties and that should never be forgotten for one moment.
As far as crime statistics in general is concerned, these allegations were made to the Public Administration Committee, of which my colleague, Paul Flynn, is a member: cuffing, nodding, skewing, stitching. To save time, you know very well what was said; I would find it surprising if you did not. First of all, were you familiar with these phrases before? I asked Police and Crime Commissioners, but you are very, very experienced and senior police officers, any of these designations I have mentioned, were they known to you before, even if you say that this evidence was not accurate?
Sir Hugh Orde: Some of the slang, cuffing is a word that I have certainly heard before. Something that threw me, stitching as an-
Mr Winnick: Yes, it is a variety of malpractices.
Sir Hugh Orde: Stitching up is a phrase that has been used. That is in parlance.
Chair: We use it a lot here in Westminster. Sir Peter?
Sir Hugh Orde: I could not comment, Chairman.
Sir Peter Fahy: No. The only one I recognise, like you, was cuffing, that is sometimes used, but no, all the other ones I-
Chair: Chief Constable Paul?
Colette Paul: Exactly the same. I have heard of cuffing. I have never heard of any of the others, the other terminology at all.
Q89 Mr Winnick: My final question: do you accept that? We expect you to say no, but how far do you believe it is absolutely essential that the statistics that are given-often bandied about in the House of Commons for perfectly understandable party political reasons, whether they are going up or down and having a go or defending the police, that is all part of parliamentary democracy and the rest of it-should be ones where it can be accepted with total integrity?
Sir Peter Fahy: Obviously it must be, but on the other hand, if you start with a statistical measure like crime statistics that you know are fundamentally unreliable because so much crime is under-reported, then you are starting with a very false premise. That is what we have to be very careful about. That is why we should be going for a range of measures. I turn up at lots of public meetings in Greater Manchester and say, "Crime is down". They do not believe me and they do not care. They are bothered about their own experience. We put a huge amount of effort into collecting these crime statistics and trying to make sure they are accurate and the public do not believe them anyway. I absolutely want to be held to account, but it is the quality of the service and the way that we deal with the public.
Chair: Sir Hugh, if we can have a quick answer to this.
Sir Hugh Orde: Again, I do not want to second-guess what my colleague will say to the Select Committee Chairman, but I remember as an operational Chief many years ago now, I had a substantial amount of effort into checking the integrity of my crime figures. We had crime reporting registrars who would routinely challenge. We would check the calls to the outcomes and we would get a 90% to 95% hit rate on if a call comes in as a burglary, you will find a burglary report. I think we need to look at it in its totality, but I absolutely agree with Peter, policing is far more complicated than that.
Back to the frontline issue, frontline officers are in these dilemmas when they are trying to give proper outcomes to victims and they find themselves up against a very rigid process. That causes them some real difficulties.
Q90 Ian Austin: Sir Peter, when you were talking about the impact of Police and Crime Commissioners on morale, you said that that had not had an effect on morale, but you said that changes to working practices, terms and conditions, the cuts and all the rest of it, had had an impact on morale. Could I ask all three of you to expand on that and tell us how you think the austerity measures have affected morale on the frontline among your officers?
Sir Peter Fahy: Obviously it is because of the cuts that they are being asked to do the same amount of work with fewer colleagues around them. It is a fact of the pay freeze. A huge issue is the lack of promotion opportunities. That is a massive issue in the police service at the moment, but the biggest hit I get when I talk to my officers is what they feel is a constant stream of negative stories. I can only report what they say to me. They say to me, "Why does the press hate us so much?" They live in the real world, they accept the pay freezes, most of them accept absolutely they love their job, they feel they are very lucky to have their job.
Ian Austin: Many MPs say the same thing.
Sir Peter Fahy: But I can only report to you what they say to me. They are realistic about changes to pay and conditions, but the bit they do not understand is, "Why does it feel that nobody appreciates what we do?"
Colette Paul: I would say the impact on morale for me-I have a very small force, it is a rurally-funded force with urban crime issues-it does feel like a very stretched thin blue line and they would say that that is the case. I am already 40 short, which is why I am recruiting like mad at the moment to try to help with that.
Ian Austin: How many officers have you lost?
Colette Paul: We have lost 15%, so it is 195 officers and a 15% reduction in PCSOs, so it is down from 128 to 108. We have lost of awful chunk in terms of our overall strength, 15%, and that has had an impact, there is no doubt about that. But we are looking to work differently, so I am looking at transformation, I am looking at helping to work differently. That is the way that I am hoping to deal with that, but it has impacted on morale, there is no doubt about it.
Q91 Chair: So none of you agree with Mike Creedon? Sir Hugh, Mike Creedon said after the appearance before the Committee that there was an obsession with reducing crime and it is creating pressure on the police to manipulate crime figures. People in many forces had told him that this manipulation was going on. Mike Creedon, the highly-respected Chief Constable of Derbyshire, he is wrong, is he, Sir Hugh?
Sir Hugh Orde: Mike raised these issues at an open session of the ACPO conference only last week, and I think what he is describing is the extremely complex challenges faced by frontline officers when they are trying to deliver an outcome. Take, for example-
Chair: No, he is saying that they are manipulated.
Sir Hugh Orde: That is what he has been told. I do not recognise, from my experience, the level and extent that he describes, and I have just heard three Police and Crime Commissioners and two chief constables say likewise. There are real concerns-
Q92 Chair: So he is on his own, basically?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, I do not think that is the case either. I think there is a mixed view on how important figures are and the issues around figures.
Q93 Chair: No, but he went beyond that, didn’t he, Sir Peter? He said that they were being manipulated; he had heard this in many forces.
Sir Peter Fahy: He certainly said the pressure was there, and absolutely, through the whole time of the performance regime where there were league tables, when basic command units were in league tables, there was a constant pressure to look at crime figures, detection rates, prison write-offs. As I say, you are aware of some of these stories. That is why every chief constable has to be very, very aware that that pressure is there and make sure you have measures to try to and guard against it.
Chair: Chief Constable Paul?
Colette Paul: I would agree. Obviously I was there when Mike Creedon was at the ACPO conference and raised some of the issues that he raised. Yes, pressure is there. There is pressure to reduce crime, there is no doubt about that.
Q94 Chair: But not to the extent that people manipulate?
Colette Paul: I do not believe the extent that was reported to the Public Administration Committee.
Q95 Chair: But he does, because they have told him. What I do not understand is you were all at the same conference and a chief constable like Mike Creedon, very senior police officer-
Colette Paul: A very well-respected chief constable, yes.
Chair: All of you are very well-respected, but him in particular. There he goes, saying that they are being manipulated and nobody accepts that?
Colette Paul: I think what he was trying to say is there were some issues around-and he explained some of the issues that people find difficulties with. For example, crimes under 16 are not recorded at all in terms of the crime figures. There is a whole range of issues around that.
Q96 Dr Huppert: Can I now turn to the Parker report about ACPO and its future? This is something, Sir Hugh, that we have discussed on a number of occasions. It made a number of criticisms. It describes at page 16 the structure as, "being inconsistent with public accountability", page 11, let me get the phrase, "The structure was complex and unorthodox" and on page 8, "It has proved difficult to establish exactly how many working groups there are in excess of 300", which does not strike me as a well-functioning organisation. What is the future?
Sir Hugh Orde: It strikes me as an organisation that has grown up over time to fill the gaps as the national policing picture developed and no one else took responsibility for some critical things that are better dealt with once than 43 or 44 different times. He also said there is a requirement for central focus at the national level and that is a forum for senior leadership of the police service, and underpinned very clearly firstly that the current structure of the ACPO office was value for money, and secondly, it needed an independent Chief to lead it. I think there is lots of things in there and of course a lot of that mirrors the report from Sir David Omand and Sir Denis O’Connor around the national operational deployment through NPOC.
You will remember, I am sure, the first time I came here as the President of ACPO, I said, "I am deeply uncomfortable" I think was the exact words, "with being in a company limited by guarantee" and the general has very kindly invited us to look at it again. We are looking at it again. I have torn what little hair I have left out looking at other models. One possibility would be statutory. We have raised that with the Home Secretary and she did not think that was appropriate, and I do not disagree with her. It would be hugely complex, I think, to legislate for something that has to flex and move. Again the Stevens report also touches on the need for an ACPO-type structure. It is to look at what we need as the irreducible minimum and then look at how we can handle some of the other bits of business we have taken on out of public responsibility over time and see if they can be done in different ways.
Some of the add-ons, for want of a better description, which people have some difficulty with, essential and efficient though they are, there may be better ways of doing those and the league force model is one of the ones the general comes up with. We are absolutely happy to look at all of that with Police and Crime Commissioners, who of course commissioned the report and who we are meeting with very shortly to discuss.
Q97 Dr Huppert: You did say, I think when you first came to this Committee, you were not happy with the limited company structure. I think a few of us gave you a hard time of it. It is noticeable that nothing much has happened to change that.
Sir Hugh Orde: I am delighted to take recommendations. I cannot find anything that is better. The irony of this is that I spoke to Sir Keith Povey only a couple of days ago at a charity event, and he was responsible for creating ACPO as a limited company. It was not very charitable, the event after that, I can tell you, but the point he was making was it was about trying to be seen to be transparent so we could publish accounts, people could look at what we did, it employed people and we could deliver looking outwards, keeping the public safe from national threats.
Q98 Dr Huppert: There are a number of ways, of course, of publishing accounts; one can just publish accounts. You said that nobody else stepped up, so you are presumably very pleased that the College of Policing will take a lot of the responsibilities away from you, that you will be happy to hand over that burden to them under smaller constables so that chief constables can talk to each other. You are happy with that?
Sir Hugh Orde: We changed our articles of association very quickly to enable the College to take on the non-operational policy development work in what is a college, a professional college, very exciting ideas, hugely supported by our colleagues, who will speak for themselves, but we need to be clear about its role. It is an inclusive organisation and that is its greatest strength. It represents every single member of policing. Indeed, Chairman, you may even be a member yourself and not even know it. It is an inclusive organisation for the professional police service, sworn and unsworn, therefore it cannot speak on leadership issues on behalf of the service and it is recognising that difference in responsibilities and how they are complementary, not competitive. It is critical.
Q99 Dr Huppert: Who are you accountable to?
Sir Hugh Orde: Chief constables. They hold me to account in a fairly robust way and of course the board of directors.
Q100 Dr Huppert: The ACPO board or the Chief Constables’ Council?
Sir Hugh Orde: Again, the general identifies that. The board of directors, which I chair, runs the company and employs the staff, but when I am operating as a chief constable, I hold the office of constable and the rank of chief constable by virtue of legislation, I am entirely independent. My whole purpose or the purpose of my office-never mind the individual in it, that changes over time-is to manage and be the honest broker and to enable Chiefs to come together, but without a geographic responsibility themselves.
Q101 Dr Huppert: I did not quite get the answer to that, and I will finish on this, because I know others have questions: are you accountable to the ACPO board or the Chief Constables’ Council in your operation as ACPO President?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am accountable to a number of people. If you take the riots, one could argue I am accountable to the Home Secretary when I sit in COBRA representing the interests of the police service and supporting Government in those endeavours. So it is not a clear picture is the point you are getting. I entirely agree with you.
Dr Huppert: I think the lack of clarity was the comment.
Sir Hugh Orde: Indeed it was.
Q102 Mark Reckless: Doesn’t that lack of clarity mean that you are in effect accountable to nobody?
Sir Hugh Orde: No.
Sir Peter Fahy: Can I say, Chairman, just again in the day-to-day work that they have, working as part of the national structure, clearly previously the Police Authority and now the Police and Crime Commissioners are very much aware of the work that you do also at a national level and that is part of the accountability of ACPO as well. ACPO, yes, obviously as an organisation, but it is also a body of people that day in, day out are working on national issues and representing the service obviously at hearings like this one.
Q103 Mark Reckless: Sir Hugh, you were saying that the College of Policing could not speak on behalf of the police service because other people were involved in it, aside from chief constables, but what gives to chief constables the right to speak on behalf of something you describe as the police service in some national capacity, when what we have in this country is 43 separate forces and the chief constables only have the responsibility to speak on behalf of those?
Sir Hugh Orde: You have just analysed the point very well. First of all, the College of Policing can speak: the Chief Executive of the College, Alex Marshall, a very well-respected chief constable, will absolutely. Firstly, he is a member of the Chiefs’ Council, and secondly will speak absolutely on matters that are the responsibility under his command, for example, the College of Policing, so it is not a silent voice. It is a very important voice and hopefully will be a growing voice in terms of professional development, proper policy development, best practice, what works, all the things that are rightly in the College remit, but for the College to succeed, what we cannot do is continue to throw stuff in. Where I sit, I guess-and I think the general made this point-that the person who leads Chiefs’ Council should be elected by the chief constables, for example, they have confidence in that individual. chief constables have given me authority to act on their behalf as an honest broker, for example, in multi-site public disorder situations and the fuel strike, things that require an operational deployment.
Q104 Mark Reckless: But has Parliament given authority to them to delegate that part of their role to you, and if so, when and how?
Sir Hugh Orde: I have no idea if it needs Parliament to give them that authority.
Q105 Mark Reckless: You have just taken it unto yourself, have you not?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, the chief constables, through a clear process, have asked me to-
Mark Reckless: You as in ACPO?
Sir Hugh Orde: Not me-have asked for the Chair of the Chiefs’ Council to represent them and to do these jobs. In essence, one only has to look at the Oman report, where the Home Secretary decided that I would be responsible for leading the National Police Co-ordination Centre on behalf of chief constables, so there was a clear process that ties a key strategic need and a person who could speak with the authority of Chiefs.
Q106 Mark Reckless: On that NOPAC board, don’t you also have the Cabinet Office, the Home Office, the Police and Crime Commissioners’ representative rather than it simply being an ACPO role?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, in COBRA you do not have any of those people, I think.
Q107 Mark Reckless: NOPAC, is that the abbreviation?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, the National Police Co-ordination Centre, which is under my command, as decided by the Home Secretary, the Chair of the Chiefs’ Council would run that and lead it.
Q108 Mark Reckless: Then you chair it rather than run it or command it?
Sir Hugh Orde: I would see it probably as a command, to be quite honest, because I am moving staff around the country on behalf of my Chief Officer colleagues so they can focus on keeping citizens safe in their area and being held to account, of course, through Police and Crime-
Q109 Mark Reckless: So you have direction and control as the President of ACPO rather than individual Chiefs?
Sir Hugh Orde: You negotiate, Mr Reckless. I do not order-
Q110 Mark Reckless: That is different from command, isn’t it, though?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, not necessarily. I think "command" is quite a useful phrase in terms of leading a-
Mark Reckless: For negotiating?
Sir Hugh Orde: I lead a group of people. Yes, exactly, and you may find that amusing. It is hugely important when you are trying to move people into London, for example, from-
Q111 Mark Reckless: It is not amusing. There is a huge difference and this is an issue we have in British policing, no doubt about it, but there is a huge difference between negotiating and influencing and command, which was the word you used.
Sir Hugh Orde: I command NPOC, which is a group of people who manage that process. I negotiate with chief constables, who are incredibly corporate, and make sure that the public good and the national security is maintained by moving people around the country.
Q112 Mark Reckless: My understanding was you chaired it. If perhaps you can point to the source of your power to command it in writing to us afterwards, that would be very useful.
I wonder if I could just conclude on an area perhaps of common ground. I was very pleased to hear you welcome policy now being a matter for the College of Policing and I do not want to ascribe to you the views of an independent report if they are not your views, so if I could just ask you about the Parker report. It says on page 10, "There is no clear dividing line between policy and practice" and then goes on to say, "There is therefore a need for chief constables to provide an effective counter to obfuscation by other stakeholders within the College, who may not have responsibility for operational effect and therefore developing police will remain a responsibility of the Chief Constables’ Council". Do you agree with that?
Sir Hugh Orde: Policy is developed through the national business areas. It obviously covers Chiefs’ Council. That was the agreed process-and my colleagues may wish to contribute to this debate-so Chiefs’ Council is going to discuss it and see if they can deliver it. My sense is that will not be too much of an issue, because of the iterative process of policy development, and of course national policing areas are led by senior members of ACPO who lead staff from across the country of all ranks, shapes and sizes to get the best practice and to develop that policy before it comes to Chiefs’ Council for final endorsement. It then of course goes back to the College and the College board of directors for final sign-off.
Q113 Mark Reckless: But I am concerned about the chief constables having final sign-off. Surely it is a matter for the College of Policing and not for the Chief Constables’ Council within ACPO.
Q114 Chair: Yes, Sir Peter.
Sir Peter Fahy: If I may say, Chair, because at the end of the day, as the chief constable, I am responsible for the implementation of policy in Greater Manchester within the remit given to me by the Police and Crime Commissioner and within the resources and the financial reality I face, so if the College of Policing comes up with a particular policy that I do not think is right for the people of Greater Manchester or I cannot afford, I have to be in a position to say, "No, we are not going to do this".
Q115 Mark Reckless: Is it the intention for the Chief Constables’ Council to become a revamped ACPO?
Sir Peter Fahy: I see what we have to move to is a very clear distinction between the College, which is a professional body, and a crucial part of the reform process in terms of changing the whole culture of policing to a professional body, and then another organisation, which essentially is the Association of Police Forces, as organisations accountable to the public for the delivery of policing and also crucial employers.
Chair: Very helpful, thank you.
Sir Peter Fahy: The trouble is if the College looks too much like the mouthpiece of the employers or of the forces, we will lose the rest of the workforce and they will just see it as a revamped NPIA.
Chair: The Committee will look at the way the College operates next year. This is not directed at you, Mr Ellis, you are always very succinct in your questioning, but the Minister is waiting outside.
Q116 Michael Ellis: He will have to wait a little bit longer. I undertake not to take as long as most of our colleagues, Mr Vaz.
Gentlemen and Chief Constable Paul, first of all I want to take a step back and ask you about the Plebgate matter. I want to ask it in this way, and it is connected to Plebgate, but it is indirect: I have prosecuted cases before as a barrister in criminal cases before I was a Member of Parliament. First of all, Chief Constable Sir Peter, is it unusual for eight people in any series of offences to be arrested and only one of them to be charged? Is that a low proportion in an allegation of this kind?
Sir Peter Fahy: I think it is very hard to make a generalisation. It depends on the type of incident, in a fight after a protest-
Chair: Can I just warn everyone present that somebody has been charged? There are criminal proceedings that are ongoing.
Q117 Michael Ellis: I do not think this affects that. I am talking generally about the proportion of arrests followed by charges. I am not talking about any individual case, so if eight people were arrested for a disorder in a town centre or for a conspiracy to defraud, would it be statistically common for only one person to be charged as a result of that?
Sir Peter Fahy: I think it is very difficult to generalise on the type of offence. I mean, the Plebgate-
Chair: We will accept that answer. Yes, Mr Ellis.
Michael Ellis: Did you want to say anything else, Chief Constable Paul?
Colette Paul: No, not at all.
Michael Ellis: Very well.
Sir Hugh Orde: I will have a go.
Michael Ellis: Thank you.
Sir Hugh Orde: I think it is not for us is the bottom line. One of the great strengths, as I said right at the beginning, was the case was "ruthlessly investigated" was the description of the Commissioner today. The evidence went to an independent prosecutor’s department, who made a decision. From personal experience, in my last life, it would not be unusual in some of the complex terrorist cases to arrest a large number of people and no one be charged, frankly. So it is very hard to hypothesise on individual cases.
Q118 Michael Ellis: Very well. Can I move on then to the Stevens report? Don’t you think it is frankly very odd where he says at one point, I believe, morale low, effectively due to Police and Crime Commissioners? By extension it appears to be that having a democratically elected person increases mistrust in the police. That is what the report appears to be saying in part. Isn’t the reality that if there is an increase in mistrust by the public of the police, that mistrust will likely have been increased by allegations of misconduct, not by the fact that there is a Police and Crime Commissioner? Is it not rather dystopian to suggest that those who are supposed to be supervising the police are responsible for an increase in mistrust? It is rather like saying, "Don’t supervise what we are doing for fear of finding out something wrong and therefore increase the levels of trust". It is dystopian, is it not, Sir Peter?
Sir Peter Fahy: I do not recognise the connection. Some of my officers have used the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to complain about me, so they clearly trust the system. I think you are absolutely right, it is a broader range of issues that affected morale, and I would say always policing is improved by greater accountability and greater transparency.
Colette Paul: I would agree with Sir Peter.
Sir Hugh Orde: Nothing to add. I think morale in policing is a very complex and partly cultural thing. As I have often said, morale in policing has been at an all time low since 1977 when I joined. The first thing I was told was that the job was finished. It was not, and every time a call came out, every officer emptied out of whatever they were doing to go and keep citizens safe. I do not think that has changed a bit and if you look at crime figures, tested though they are rightly are, and confidence in policing maintaining its level, despite these big issues that you and the Chairman and many others have raised, I think we should have great strength or take comfort in that that the vast majority of police officers do a jolly good job in very difficult times.
Q119 Michael Ellis: I agree with you absolutely on that. As far as the allegations are concerned that came from another place from a constable, I believe, of fiddling crime figures, certainly in my experience of over 15 years, I do not recognise any of the terms that apparently have been used. I have asked other officers of different ranks, and I think you have already answered from the Chairman. You do not recognise, any of the three of you, these terms that are said to have been used to mask figures?
Sir Peter Fahy: No. Only the one, cuffing.
Colette Paul: Cuffing, yes.
Q120 Michael Ellis: Cuffing, which of course means handcuffing, but not in terms of masking?
Colette Paul: No.
Male Speaker: No, cuffing means the (several inaudible words PTV 16:40:09).
Q121 Michael Ellis: Yes, I appreciate that, but you do not recognise those terms as part of terms to mask crime figures?
Sir Peter Fahy: I recognise the term "cuffing of crime", yes, that has been in parlance, but I do not recognise any of the other terms in relation to that.
Q122 Michael Ellis: There was a suggestion of "theft by snatching, and that is not something that I recognise from having prosecuted robberies and theft cases. Is it something that you recognise?
Sir Peter Fahy: It is part of the complexity that, for instance, what you might record an assault is, as you know, a section 20. When it goes to the Crown Prosecution Service, they would say it is a section 47 or even a common assault, so there is always this difficulty and that why I think it is another issue in the crime statistics. That there is always an element of interpretation in terms of whether it is-
Q123 Michael Ellis: But that is very different. There always will be an interpretation as to whether a case is a robbery or a theft or whether it is a burglary or something else. You will always get that, different grades of assaults, because it is not an exact science, but that is very different from suggesting that figures are being masked and manipulated.
Sir Hugh Orde: That is a really important point that shows the complexity of the crime recording rules, which are very rigid. You discussed robbery versus theft, is the violence during or before or after and all those sort of things, which is why crime recording registrars were put in place to deal with that. In my previous life in Northern Ireland, I remember having a huge argument with a registrar because my officers, I think properly, recorded a section 18 assault of grievous bodily harm and they were arguing very strongly it was a 20, which is of course a lower offence and I was absolutely not prepared to accept that, but had to eventually give up the argument.
Michael Ellis: I think those points are common, thank you.
Sir Hugh Orde: But these are very complicated things.
Michael Ellis: They are indeed.
Chair: Thank you. I am afraid we must move on.
Michael Ellis: Thank you very much indeed.
Chair: Thank you, Mr Ellis. You were a model of succinctness. Yasmin Qureshi. Please could you do the same?
Yasmin Qureshi: I have been very succinct.
Chair: You have.
Q124 Yasmin Qureshi: I just wanted to ask you what arrangements do your respective Commissioners have in place to hold both of you to account? That is only for the chief constables.
Sir Peter Fahy: The key thing is the phone call at any time of the day and night, it might be about a particular incident, a particular call, and there is clearly then a formal police forum every two weeks, but then there are other meetings on top of that. Tony Lloyd talked about the public forums that we have held. They are themed forums on issues like fraud, the confirmation hearing I had to have to get my contract extended, so a range of issues, but I think what has changed has been because it is one person with that political mandate-although I had a very good relationship with the former chair of my Police Authority-does mean that the focus is more intrusive and, as I say, it is speedier because he is able to react without possibly having to seek the views of 19 people on the committee.
Colette Paul: I would say I have weekly one-to-one meetings with my Police and Crime Commissioner in a formal sense, where we sit down and look at performance, but I would say we probably meet up with each other three to four times a week. We speak almost every day around issues, and then we have quarterly formal performance meetings where I am held to account around performance, but I am held to account every single week as well. I would say a lot of accountability, a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion, including the telephone calls probably every day.
Q125 Yasmin Qureshi: Finally, I know we have been talking about statistics and the comment about the police service, so I just wanted to come from a slightly different angle. I can remember years ago when as a junior prosecutor I used to work for the Crown Prosecution Service and we used to have this distinguished between some crimes are either way, some are summary and quite often I would say, "Summary, but I can bring charges on either way". People would say, "Well, maybe one of the reasons, is it to do with the funding?" because obviously if a police station says, "I have a lot of either way offences indictable" the funding would be higher and if there were loads of summary offences, the funding would be lesser, in those days. Now, there is this issue about the statistics perhaps being changed to meet targets.
Isn’t what this really reflects, all these sort of things? Firstly, statistics in some respects are fairly meaningless, because they do not explain the situation properly, but secondly, what this links is this issue of funding of police forces and of police services. Maybe what needs to be looked at, would you agree, that perhaps an overall about how police services are funded and what jobs they are doing and a proper evaluation of how crimes are marked into the categories that they are and whether there is training issues there and things? Do you think there may be a time for a much deeper look into these old issues in a constructive way?
Sir Peter Fahy: Sometimes there are some myths about that and officers do sometimes feel they almost have to record more things because they seem to think it will then end to them getting more officers. I come back to I think any wise leader, you are constantly looking for what might be the perverse incentives in a performance regime and you are always trying to make sure you guard against that and try to work that out. But certainly at the moment, there is not that direct relationship with crime levels and funding, because it takes in a range of other factors as well, but on the other hand, there are sometimes myths, and as I say, it is one of the perverse incentives that you have to look at when you are carrying out auditing.
Colette Paul: I would say the funding is a broad issue and it looks at demographics and a whole range of other issues, but obviously from a small force, there is a high risk for us around finance. It is an area that obviously I would want the Government to look at.
Chair: Thank you. Mr Winnick has a very quick supplementary on crime figures.
Q126 Mr Winnick: Yes, indeed, it will be quick. I thought I was going to be arrested a few moments ago. Can I just ask again on the question of integrity of statistics, would you be happy to see some inquiry, a brief inquiry, into this issue, because the Chair quoted a chief constable, I have quoted others, the evidence before the Public Administration Committee. In reply to Mr Ellis, you say some of these terms you are not familiar with and you said that to me as well. Do you think this should be dealt with as quickly as possible, because public confidence you agree is absolutely essential on these figures?
Sir Hugh Orde: Public confidence is essential. We need to see what the Public Administration Committee, when it has heard all the evidence, they come up with. I think that is a starting point. HMIC looks at this routinely and I remember those inquiries well. They are pretty forensic. We have the Office of National Statistics playing this role. Whether there is a need for another piece of work I think is a matter for others, but of course if there was one, we would comply fully.
Q127 Chair: On this final question of leadership, we have talked about the frontline and what happened in Downing Street and in Sutton Coldfield. Do you think there is a vacuum in leadership? You are obviously leaders of your profession and you in particular, Sir Hugh, you have held so many hugely important roles in policing. We do not look at this issue of leadership, but leadership is absolutely crucial, is it not, for the future of the police service?
Sir Hugh Orde: Yes, it is, and by way of reassurance, Chairman, I think as a result of your precise statement, we would be fairly confident. What I do have is the privilege of sitting in my ivory tower in 10 Victoria Street. One can look and work very closely with chief constables, deputy chief constables, and I think one of the great strengths of ACPO rather than a Chief Constables’ Council, it is the totality of the senior leaders of the service working collectively in the public interest. There are some incredibly impressive people who work flat out, both at a local and national level. Of course, this direct entry is a proposal that the College of Policing is now working on and there is some real enthusiasm certainly at the fast track to inspector level-bizarrely, it is a very similar process to the one I came in on in 1977, so we are perhaps reinventing history-and again, some more radical proposals at other levels of the service, so I think the future is bright.
Chair: Sir Hugh, Sir Peter, Chief Constable Paul-no doubt soon to become a dame after this-thank you very much for coming today and please keep in touch with us during our inquiry. I am most grateful.