Nick Herbert – 2012 Speech on Police Transformation


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert, the then Minister for Policing, Fire and Criminal Justice and Victims, on 26 January 2012.

Thank you for inviting me to speak once again at a CityForum event.

A year ago at CityForum, I set out why the challenge of maintaining and improving policing as budgets fall was manageable – provided that we did not treat this as ‘business as usual’. I argued that with transformational change in the way police forces work, savings of over £2 billion a year were possible – exceeding the reductions in police funding. I said that we could make the police service stronger even at it becomes leaner.

The strategy I set out was threefold: to improve frontline services, spend the minimum on other functions, and from the start think about re-shaping service through long-term change rather than tactical salami-slicing.

Today I want to to set out the ways in which the service is responding to that challenge: how we, at a national level, are working hard to support the service in delivering that transformation, through an ambitious and long overdue package of reforms that we need a continued and concerted drive to deliver further transformation in policing, focusing not simply on doing the same for less, but working towards improved outcomes, reducing crime and keeping the public safe

Dealing with the deficit

The context remains the same. We need to deal with the deficit and that means reducing public spending. I am not going to rehearse the arguments why. But I will observe that there is a cross-party consensus that police spending must be reduced. The only argument is by how much – but even the official opposition accepts that there need to be savings of over £1 billion a year. In any case, police forces will be smaller, with fewer officers and staff.

In asking police forces to accept their share of the burden, we are driven by a determination to deal with the deficit and maintain market confidence in our economy. We are not taking tough decisions because we want to cut police budgets, but because we believe we have to.

Pay reform and restraint

Our aim has been to do everything that we can to support forces to drive out cost. Since pay accounts for the large majority of police spending, the pay bill is a key issue.

We have always said that pay reform and restraint must form part of the package. We are not, as some have suggested, singling the police out – we are having to make difficult decisions about pay right across the public sector.

We recognise that police officers carry out difficult and sometimes dangerous work, and that they should be rewarded fairly for what they do. We also believe it is necessary to ensure modern pay and conditions that reflect the demands of policing today.

Police officers and staff are, understandably, concerned about the proposed changes, but let me say here that we absolutely want to ensure that any changes are fair. That is why we are giving very careful consideration to the recommendations made by the police arbitration tribunal earlier this month.

Non-pay savings

Government also has a role in helping forces to reduce their non-pay bill, which still amounts to some £3.5 billion, or around one quarter of total revenue and capital spend. So we have also been focusing on how the police can secure better IT and procurement. I will outline significant changes in these areas later in my speech.

But the bulk of the work is for forces themselves to do – changing how they operate to become as efficient and effective across the board as the best of their peers, in frontline services, and in the back and middle office services that support them.

HMIC’s adapting to austerity report last summer showed that forces had begun work on seriously and carefully making or exceeding the required savings. But the report also showed that there was more to do. The budget gap of unidentified savings in each force is closing, but as it does so and changes are implemented, the focus must be on ensuring that levels of public services are maintained.

The role of government

So if forces themselves are in the lead in driving the necessary savings, what is the role of government?

Well, first of all, we need to get the structures right to ensure that policing is organised to meet the challenges. Our agenda across government is to return power to people and communities, driving up standards in the public sector through greater accountability and a focus on outcomes rather than central direction and bureaucratic micromanagement.

So in November, we will see the election of the first police and crime commissioners. A strong link from the police organisation as a whole to the public is essential if transformational change in policing is to be seen through. And I believe that, far from being parochial or opposed to radical change in how services are delivered, police and crime commissioners will be strongly motivated to drive better value for money because they will want to protect frontline services.

We also want to see greater focus and accountability in the national bodies that support policing, where possible with ownership being taken by the profession. So this year the National Policing Improvement Agency will give way to a new IT company and a new police professional body. These will each play key, though very different, roles in supporting forces to improve value for money.

HMIC is becoming more independent, with a sharp focus on value for money as it shines a light on performance, acting in the public interest and telling the truth about what forces are doing – as it did in its crime report yesterday.

What of the Home Office?

The days of performance management and Whitehall intervention are gone. But that doesn’t mean that we are standing idly by.

Last year we had a healthy discussion with service leaders about the role of the centre – by which I mean the Home Office, government more widely, and the national policing bodies – in supporting forces to meet this challenge.

As a result we put in place a policing value for money unit in the Home Office to work with the service in taking forward a national strategy.

We agreed that the priorities should be: * First, to help enable forces to put in place better, more cost effective, IT arrangements * Second, on procurement, to use the national buying power of the police service – indeed the whole public sector – to do things cheaper and better * Third, to explore with the service – and enable – changes to how support services are delivered * Fourth, to support forces develop and implement transformational change in their businesses

Fundamentally, this is about defining a relationship between the national and local levels where the right balance is struck between convergence, interoperability and maximising economies of scale – on the one hand – and enabling local innovation, local decision-making and local flexibility, on the other.

The paradox of policing policy under the last government was that it interfered far too much in how local policing should be conducted, but didn’t focus on the national issues where a stronger grip or collaboration was required. To use the business expression, we need ‘tight-loose’ leadership – allowing new discretion and freedom for professional and local decision-making, and focusing the role of the centre on the proper issues.

So, while we are sweeping away central targets, returning discretion to police professionals, and giving newly elected police and crime commissioners the power to set local strategic priorities, we have also introduced new powers under the police reform & social responsibility act to ensure that forces work effectively together.

Next year the new national crime agency will strengthen the fight against serious and organised crime, and we have introduced, initially in shadow form, a new strategic policing requirement to ensure that forces work together to meet national threats.

We are working with suppliers and across the police service to ensure that policing is treated as a single client – with the clear benefits of better service at reduced cost.

And we have put new duties on forces to collaborate – duties which we will back up with mandatory arrangements if we have to.

National Police Air Service

Last year at CityForum I pointed out that the proposed national police air service was a good example of collaboration, saving £15 million a year and resulting in a better co-ordinated and more consistently available service.

Led by chief constable Alex Marshall, the plan has the full support of ACPO and will give all forces access to helicopter support 24 hours a day, 365 days year – in contrast to the current system which sees some force helicopters grounded for days a time while they are being repaired.

I said that if the police service’s operational leaders had concluded that this was the way forward, I hoped and expected that police authorities would rapidly endorse the proposals.

Chief officers of all forces in England and Wales have given their support to the proposal, as have the overwhelming majority of police authorities in principle.

But to get the full benefits, the commitment of the whole of the police service in England and Wales is needed.

As I said to the CityForum, the time for talking about collaboration, and the era of police fiefdoms, is over.

I am, in exceptional cases of last resort, prepared to mandate where a small minority of authorities or forces create a barrier to significant savings.

I am therefore announcing today that I intend to make an order requiring the police service to collaborate in the provision of air support. This order will be made using the new powers brought in by the police reform & social responsibility act. It will require all authorities and forces to collaborate in the provision of air support through a single collaboration agreement for England and Wales.

Improving police IT

The national police air service hasn’t been a top-down, directed government project. It’s been led by chief constables with support from the centre. We are helping to secure the end, but we aren’t directing the means.

The same should apply to police IT.

It is critical to the success of the service in meeting the spending challenge that we take the right approach.

Forces need to get better and more seamless services for their officers and staff, for example avoiding time-wasting re-keying of the same data into different systems.

And police IT should also enable closer and more effective working with other criminal justice agencies. At present, the progression of cases relies too heavily on paper and physical media being passed between agencies, building unnecessary cost, duplication and delay into the system.

Progress has been made

Criminal justice agencies have been working in close partnership at a national level to deliver digital working across the CJS by April 2012, and real change is being delivered at pace, but there is more to do.

Forces have already made substantial savings in IT. We’ve seen police spend fall by some £73 million last year compared with 2009/10, but there are opportunities for further savings to be made.

We are seeing a deepening of voluntary collaboration on IT – through wide partnerships of forces as exemplified by the athena project, and through bilateral collaboration, for example in South Yorkshire and Humberside.

But we have to ask ourselves why, despite the grand plans and record levels of spending, police IT has, in the main, remained so stubbornly disjointed, with 2,000 systems across the 43 forces.

We need a new approach, driven by forces themselves, with greater accountability. The best and quickest approach to improving police IT does not involve us specifying exactly the IT systems all forces should buy. We can take that approach successfully for some IT commodities, but not for complex systems and services, where dealing with the spider web of legacy systems in one fell swoop simply is not feasible.

This is why the government last year announced the intention to help the police create a new company which would provide forces with support relating to procurement, implementation and contract management for ICT, related business change and outsourcing services.

While it is not envisaged that the company should direct force IT spend, it would have the capability to assist forces by negotiating better prices for IT services, providing technical knowledge and insight and, over time, reducing the number of procurement specialists and IT professionals employed by forces.

The objective of the new company would be to enable a more commercial and efficient approach to police IT provision, using economies of scale and market forces to ensure more efficient management of IT expenditure and to save the public money.

This will be mirrored by a re-calibration of the police service’s information systems improvement strategy, which will remain as an enabler of voluntary collaboration between forces, and which will be owned directly by the service rather than by the IT company.


By contrast, when it comes to non-IT procurement and the procurement of IT commodities, the service needs to use its buying power together – and government leadership can assist in this.

The work started by the NPIA in creating national purchasing frameworks has been of vital importance in leveraging better purchasing power by the police service acting collectively.

Last year, we put in place the first mandatory frameworks, covering some key services – police cars, body armour and a wider range of commodity IT hardware and software. This will ensure that all forces use the specified frameworks and so the full potential for savings in these categories – £27m – can be achieved by 2014/15.

We will now consult on further regulations to specify frameworks to be used by the service when buying further equipment – vehicle light bars and digital interviewing equipment. The consultation will also cover regulations on frameworks for some services, particularly translation and interpretation – where there is the opportunity to join up with the procurement of these services for the courts – mobile telephony, some consultancy, e-learning and a police procurement hub to support more effective procurement.

We are already seeing tangible success, with savings of £34m so far, reported through the Collaborative Police Procurement Programme – a total projected to rise to £70m by the end of this financial year. These savings include spending volume reductions as well as price savings and we are on track to see this figure rise to savings of at least £200m per year by 2014/15.

I also said that we would encourage the service to behave as a single client, and we’ve brought together industry and the service in March last year to reinforce this message and to understand what the service needs in order to be a more intelligent customer. Since then, there has been work with a range of suppliers, gathering management information about activity across the service.

This has been useful work and as one example, helped us to identify a supplier who holds over 1,500 individual contracts with the 43 forces, and where prices charged are significantly higher than those received in other areas of the public sector. We’ve since worked with this supplier to rationalise the service and pricing across the police service and where possible, give money back to forces.

Support services

The fourth area we identified for savings was in support services.

Forces shouldn’t be constrained by the way things have been done in the past. In seeking better service at reduced cost, they should look across the range of possibilities, including collaboration with other forces or public services, partnering with private sector providers and establishing mutuals, and work out what best fits their local circumstances.

I made clear last year that, from the government’s point of view, there is no ideological barrier to the engagement of the private sector in delivering improved policing services.

New thinking and design should not be limited to the back and middle office functions. It should also focus on how frontline services could be reconfigured.

Greater Manchester police, for example, have carried out a thorough review of their support functions and been able to deliver £62m in year-on-year savings, and importantly, release 348 police officer posts from these roles.

This review has additionally seen the introduction of significant innovations that have led to improvements in service delivery in areas such as the investigation of fraud and the policing of major events.

In many areas public services are jointly looking at the public asset base as a way of making significant savings. Savings of around a fifth are possible by public sector partners working across an area and treating all the buildings as if they have a single owner.

In Worcestershire, for example, the blue light services are coming together in a single centre. Sussex police are leading the partnership approach in East Sussex, chairing the joint management board of partners and identifying significant savings for the whole public sector in the County.

Business partnering

The government has been supporting Surrey and West Midlands forces and authorities in a joint programme to explore the value of business partnering. The procurement notice was published on the official journal of the European Union on Tuesday this week which should lead to a contract in Spring next year.

The areas of service which could be included is wide, including a range of activities in or supporting frontline policing, including dealing with incidents, supporting victims, protecting individuals at risk and providing specialist services.

This is not about traditional outsourcing, but about building a new strategic relationship between forces and the private sector. By harnessing private sector innovation, specialist skills and economies of scale, forces can transform the way they deliver services and improve outcomes for the public. Every police authority in England and Wales bar one is named on the procurement notice, allowing other forces to join in should they choose to do so.

And, under their own steam, Lincolnshire are about to sign a £200m contract over ten years with G4S. This contract for support services is available to those other forces named on the procurement notice.

These are highly significant developments, opening up the possibility of new savings across policing. The published potential value of the Surrey/West Midlands contract is between £300m and £3.5bn. Other forces need not be unnecessary pioneers of support service delivery models. Creating scale and volume within arrangements with the private sector will mean better prices. And that means better value for the taxpayer.

Protecting the frontline

Collaboration, shared services, improved IT, collective procurement and business partnering are not ends in themselves. They are the means by which police forces can reconfigure their organisations to drive savings, improve service delivery and protect the frontline.

The forces making these transformational changes are showing that budget reductions, while challenging, are also a spur to new thinking and innovation.

And they are disproving the weary claim that reductions in spending will inevitably harm public services.

The latest official statistics on police numbers are published today. We already know that the police workforce has been reducing from its peak.

But as HMIC revealed, a third of the police workforce – including some 25,000 police officers, or just under a fifth of the total – were employed in back or middle offices. There is plenty of scope to make savings while protecting the frontline.

And this is what is happening. HMIC’s most recent data is showing that the proportion of the policing workforce in the frontline is expected to rise significantly over the spending review period.

But, as I constantly repeat, the strength and quality of frontline policing cannot, and should not, be measured simply in terms of officer numbers.

What matters is not the total number of officers employed, but how officers are deployed.

HMIC found that, on average, police forces had more officers visible and available on a Monday morning than on a Friday night.

The best forces had twice the visibility and availability of those at the bottom of the table.

So spending isn’t the sole issue. By changing shift patterns, targeting resources better, reducing time-wasting bureaucracy, and using initiatives such as hotspots or problem-oriented policing, forces can not only continue to deliver within reduced budgets – they can continue to cut crime.

And this isn’t conjecture.

The latest official crime figures showed no statistical correlation between force strengths and local crime rates. Some forces had larger than average falls in officer numbers and larger than average falls in crime.

Claims that crime is bound to rise because overall police numbers are falling are simplistic and unfounded.

The home affairs select committee said last February: ‘We accept that there is no simple relationship between numbers of police officers and levels of crime.’

The idea that only higher spending and more inputs will deliver better policing is discredited.

Examples of transformation

Hampshire, for example, has delivered significant reductions in crime in recent years, whilst also achieving considerable savings – reaching £20m in 2011 alone, while having a public commitment to retain May 2010 levels of local visible policing. Their work in rooting out unnecessary bureaucracy has made much use of mobile data terminals, liberating officers from their desks.

In Thames Valley, the force’s productivity strategy has reduced business support costs such as HR by amalgamating all the small units into one shared service and encouraging self-service. They have removed a layer of management and worked hard at collaboration with other forces. Together this has meant that in the current financial year, not only have they made over £15m of savings, they have also been able to redeploy 35 officers to frontline roles in neighbourhoods or patrol. And I know they have ambitions to redeploy a further 100 officers to the frontline over the next two years.

The force and authority work closely together and have applied a considered, thoughtful and evidence-based approach to the development of a new operational policing model, which is designed to prioritise neighbourhood policing.

The Metropolitan Police’s commitment to single patrolling where possible has meant that, in the past year, they have carried out, on average, more than 350 extra patrols every day across the Capital.

Kent police have led a comprehensive review of the public’s demand for policing services, with a view to matching staffing levels with that demand and increasing police officer availability at key times.

They have re-structured the way in which they provide policing services and, together with savings from collaboration with Essex Police, streamlining and rationalising support services and re-aligning some of their specialist policing functions, they have been able to deploy more officers onto uniformed street patrols.

This has increased police visibility with the public, the headcount of neighbourhood officers and staff has increased by 50 per cent since last November, and public satisfaction levels have increased.

Leadership and culture in a time of transformation

The same story is being repeated across the country. Police leaders at all ranks are displaying the ‘can-do’ attitude which marks the service, and is such a credit to it.

No-one is saying that the challenge is straightforward, or that change is easy.

We must remember that police staff have been losing their jobs and some officers with more than 30 years’ service have been retired.

When budgets are tight, hard working officers and staff are being asked to make big changes and sometimes to do more. But whenever I visit a force or talk to officers, I am constantly impressed by their determination to deliver.

For all the focus on structures and processes, people are at the heart of our public services, and people will effect the successful transformation of policing. And how the service leads its people to work in new ways will be critical to success in the years ahead.

That is why I believe the new professional body for policing will be so important. It will help to identify and equip the police leaders of the future. But it will also foster the professionalism which will underpin an important cultural change, enabling time-wasting bureaucracy to be replaced by the exercise of discretion and judgment by officers.


A year ago, I concluded my speech by saying that I didn’t underestimate the challenge facing forces to deliver savings and a better service through transformational change, but I was absolutely confident that forces could rise to it.

I believe they can, and they have. The service is well on its way to delivering the savings of over £2 billion which are required. But, equally importantly, it has also begun the process of transformation that will ensure that forces can improve services while lowering cost.

The government is playing its part with support through pay reform, collective procurement, collaboration and business partnering. We are backing the drive against bureaucracy and leading a new approach to delivering better IT.

But, in the end, the necessary change will come from forces.

I commend the chief constables and teams who are showing leadership and rising to this challenge.

There is more to do and further to go.

But I am confident that with transformational change, we are beginning to build a modern, flexible and responsive police service, delivering value for money for the taxpayer, and fighting crime.

Nick Herbert – 2011 Speech on Police Effectiveness


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert, the then Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, on 28th September 2011.


My thanks to the Police Foundation for inviting me to speak today at the close of your annual conference. Currently there could not be a more apposite subject for discussion than police effectiveness in a changing world. I would like to contribute to this debate by setting out the challenges I believe an effective police service should meet, and how the Government’s reforms support that endeavour. But my focus today will be on the aspects of reform that affect the people who work in policing and, in particular, what this means for police leadership.

The challenges

Despite significant reductions, crime is too still far too high. We know there are particular challenges at either end of the scale. Anti-social behaviour has sometimes seemed too small a matter to tackle head on, but affects the public deeply, whilst organised crime has been too big and complex to take on fully.

At the same time, the deficit which this Government inherited has left us with no choice but to reduce funding to police forces. The daily financial news makes the risks of failing to tackle the deficit ever more clear.

I’m not going to enter here into a discussion about whether police budgets should be cut by £1 billion or £2 billion a year. Nor am I going to humour the sophists who dispute what should be a non-contentious proposition that the core mission of the police is to cut crime.

There are many challenges for the police service, but they are obviously framed by the necessity to reduce crime while budgets fall: cutting crime while cutting costs.

The Government’s reforms

The Government’s reforms help police forces fight crime by changing the terms of trade externally and internally. Externally, bureaucratic accountability is giving way to democratic accountability, bolstered by a new commitment to transparency.  Internally, the bureaucratic approach to police work must yield to a culture which emphasises professional discretion and common sense.

Let me start by highlighting two key structural reforms we have put in place already – crime mapping and Police and Crime Commissioners.

Our crime mapping website,, has been a phenomenal success, attracting over 430 million hits since its launch at the beginning of this year.  From next May, justice outcomes will be added so that people can see not just the crimes, but how they are dealt with.

The recent passage of the Act to elect Police and Crime Commissioners next year represents another key reform.  PCCs will make policing more accountable and I believe more responsive.

These reforms mark a major change in the way that the public and the police will connect with each other.  They will strengthen the essential bridge between the police and the people, and give the public a stronger voice while protecting the operational independence of the police.  They represent a major shift of power from Whitehall to local communities.

There has been full debate about Police & Crime Commissioners, and Parliament has spoken.  Now is the time to focus on transition to the new system and, in the interests of policing, to make the reform a success.  In particular, we should see the PCC’s wider responsibilities for community safety as an opportunity to ensure effective local partnerships to prevent crime.

Meanwhile, we are bringing together for the first time the work of all those tackling organised crime in a new strategy which we set out this summer.  Going further, we are creating a powerful new body of operational crime fighters – the National Crime Agency – to make the UK a hostile environment for serious and organised criminality.

Just as forces will be accountable to their Police and Crime Commissioner, the NCA will be accountable to the Home Secretary.  The NCA will have a culture which is open, collaborative and non-bureaucratic. From the outset, a key NCA objective will be to demonstrate its impact publicly, including to local communities.

So this is a strong and coherent agenda, creating appropriate structures at both force and national levels to address the challenge of reducing crime while cutting costs.  These are powerful elements of the first phase of police reform.  They reflect our determination to empower the public, boost transparency, create strong accountability and remove bureaucracy.

None of this would have happened if, instead of driving reform, we had set up a Royal Commission or a committee of inquiry.  As the independent Inspectorate of Constabulary has made clear, the fiscal challenge is urgent: there is no time for delay. It’s right to seek professional guidance and independent views in specific areas – and we have.  But we cannot contract out political leadership or funk the big challenges which must be grasped.  And it is little use setting up committees of wise men if you don’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem to be solved.

And let me be clear about how we should approach the changes that are needed.  Public service reform must be driven first of all by the interests of the public.  The changes we are making to reduce bureaucracy and enhance professional discretion will help the police.  This is a positive agenda for them, and I am committed to it.  We will consult the professionals and we will listen.  But we cannot rely on committees of experts consulting other experts.  Our reforms will give the people a voice.  And where tough decisons are needed, including changes to ensure a fair deal to the taxpayer and a voice for the consumer, we will take them. The public interest will come first.

Reform and the people in policing

If the important structural changes we are making are the first phase of police reform, we now enter the second phase, focusing on the most valuable asset in policing: its people.

Let’s be clear about our starting position.  This country has the most diverse, most academically qualified, and best trained police service we have ever had.  The British way is that the police are part of the public and derive their legitimacy from the public – a huge strength.  The can do approach of police officers is a strength, too.  So is the British model of impartial policing, admired around the world – and with good reason.

These are strong foundations to build on.  But they can’t be a reason to conclude that there’s no need for change.  Let me identifty four key areas in particular which I believe point to the need for changing the way in which police forces work.

Challenges and opportunities for police leadership

First, recent events have raised questions which must be answered.  Phone-hacking led to resignations at the top of the Met, and has raised serious questions about the relationship between the police and the press.  There are troubling issues relating to police conduct in other parts of the country as well.  HMIC is doing work on police integrity.  But it’s important that we can have a frank debate about the lessons to be learnt, particularly around how openness reinforces integrity and is the ultimate guarantor of the values we need at the top of policing.

In response to rioting, police officers put themselves in harm’s way for the public, and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.  Again, it’s sensible and right to have a debate about tactics in the wake of such events, and HMIC will advise us.  This need not mean criticism.  Some lessons will be positive, such as the response of the public and of the criminal justice system.

Other police forces around the world are experiencing the new phenomenon of flash mobs using social media to commit crime.  The world, as the title of this conference acknowledges, is changing.  It simply makes sense to consider how to adapt.

This debate should be conducted without rancour or defensiveness.  To recognise the problems, and to consider the changes needed in response, is not destructive criticism of the service.  Any healthy organisation and its leaders need challenge and support.

It is the responsibility of politicians to hold public services to account, to ensure proper arrangements for governance, and to ensure that operational leaders are equipped to meet contemporary challenges.

The second driver for change relates to the need to deal with bureaucracy.  Bureaucratic control led to front line officers and police leaders responding to Whitehall rather than the public.  It defined an era when officer numbers and police spending rose dramatically – but when crime reduction actually slowed compared with preceding years.

I am glad to say that the bureaucratic approach is changing.  Just as accountability to the public needs to shift from being bureaucratic to being democratic, we need to see through a corresponding shift in how police officers and staff are allowed to work.  This agenda is one which can be immensely empowering to officers and staff, where innovation is encouraged, discretion is allowed and professionals are trusted.  But in an era where we take a new view of the assessment and management of risk, new leadership is needed.

The third reason for change relates, again, to resources.  Falling budgets mean that there is a requirement for transformation in policing.  Police forces need to re-think how they provide their service, protecting but re-shaping frontline service delivery and bearing down ruthlessly on cost in non-essential functions.  They need to question the unnecessary deployment of sworn officers, the most expensive police resource, in back and middle office functions rather than in frontline roles.  They need to move away from deploying their people in ways which have grown up over time but bear little relation to what the public needs.

Police leaders need to drive the organisational changes and the changes in culture that will enable these better approaches.  They need to inspire their officers and staff with relentless focus on crime-fighting.  That should not be a difficult or unwelcome message to deliver.  Officers and staff joined policing, in the main, inspired to serve the public and fight crime.  The problem is that the day-to-day bureaucracy and over emphasis on procedure for its own sake has obscured that aim.  We need police leaders who will return to the focus on crime-fighting which the public and Police and Crime Commissioners will certainly demand.

I often hear that, when budgets are falling, government must tell the police what they should stop doing.  Let me answer.  We don’t run the police or tell officers how to do their job.  But I do want forces to stop doing things – stop their officers filling in unnecessary forms, stop inefficient processes, and stop the bureaucracy that wastes police time.  And I will do everything I can to support those changes.  I don’t want the police to stop providing key services, salami slice provision rather than re-think it, or believe that the answer is to ration demand.  And they don’t need to.

We remain in the midst of a poor political debate about policing, where too many politicians and commentators still measure success by the size of inputs and assume that less spending inevitably means poorer service.  But it is outcomes that count, and the effective deployment of officers matters at least as much, if not more, than overall numbers.  This generation of police leaders must deliver a service that becomes stronger even as it becomes leaner.

The Winsor Review

The fourth requirement for change is that we need a workforce which is structured, rewarded and motivated to respond to modern demands.

The Home Secretary has of course commissioned Tom Winsor to provide two reports which will be central to the people side of police reform.  His first report is currently in the Police Negotiating Board process.  So it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail.

But I do want to draw attention to Tom Winsor’s principles, which he set out in his first report and which the Home Secretary has already accepted.  Amongst these, he set out that fairness is an essential part of any new system of pay and conditions – fairness to the public and fairness to police officers and staff.

Winsor said people should be paid for what they do, the skills they have and according to how much they contribute.  His principles noted that while rewarding officers for the onerous demands of front line policing, the police service also needs to recognise the contribution made by police staff.

The Winsor principles send a clear message in support of fostering professionalism and discretion in policing.  I would urge all bodies with an interest in policing to contribute fully and in detail to Tom Winsor’s work on his second report. This work will map the way forwards for policing over the medium and long term.  It represents an opportunity for change which comes only once every 25-30 years.  That opportunity must not be missed.

Criteria for police leadership reform

So the police need to cut crime and cut costs, and they need to tackle big agendas relating to governance, reducing bureaucracy, transforming their organisations and managing their workforces through a major programme of change.

This is a significant challenge, and it will require real leadership.  My job is to provide the clear framework and support which the service needs to help them through.  But in the end the public, through their elected Police and Crime Commissioners, will rely on police leaders to deliver.  So I think it’s right to ask what we want from the next generation of leaders – and I don’t just mean senior leaders – in policing.

– First of all, I believe we need to maintain the positive characteristics of current police leadership – such as the ‘can do’ spirit found in the police service as a whole.

– We must maintain the British model of operationally independent, impartial policing.

– The public will want to see inspirational leaders who drive a relentless focus on crime-fighting.

– They will want a police leadership which they can trust.

– We need a police service and leaders, as Chief Constable Steve Otter and I argued two weeks ago, who are properly representative of the public they serve …

– … and a service that is open to all and attractive to the best.

– We need to ensure that police forces have the management capacity and skills to control costs.

– Related to this, we need leaders who can drive transformational change, in particular to the way their officers and staff work, moving to a culture of professional discretion.

– And we need to underpin all this with values of integrity of conduct combined with openness to challenge and to new ideas.

I don’t believe that these set of requirements should be controversial.   Indeed, it strikes me that forward thinking police leaders are already espousing them.  Bernard Hogan Howe has done so in his first week as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Talking points

So then we come to the steps needed to promote these criteria.  We need a good debate about these.  But let me offer a few talking points.

– Policing should not deny itself access to talent from whatever suitable source.  That’s why we’ve asked Tom Winsor to look at direct entry to policing at ranks above constable, and accelerated promotion within policing.  I know that direct entry in particular is controversial in the service, and operational issues must be addressed.  But outward-looking and self-confident organisations should welcome the ability to attract good people, from all backgrounds and at various points in their careers.

– Similarly, openness must underpin the approach to the selection, training and development of leadership from within the service.  We need to expose police leaders to learning from other sectors, making training more flexible and more open.  We need to broaden skills through more secondments out of the service, and indeed more varied careers which see rising stars moving in and out of the service.

– We need to foster a more open appointments system.  Too often we are seeing competitions for chief officer posts which are scarcely competitions at all.  An outward-looking and self-confident service should welcome more open approaches.  Direct entry is one solution, but there are broader cultural issues around selection and promotion to address.

– We need to consider how police forces should meet – and show they meet – high standards of corporate governance as they are held to account by Police and Crime Commissioners.  That can sound a dry area – but what it means is that the way a force top team works must provide good management and leadership, and follow the key values of policing.

A professional body for policing

We now need the right vehicles for delivering these changes in the future.  We have consulted on Peter Neyroud’s Review of Police Leadership and Training which sets out a vision of a professional body for policing.  We are considering the response, and we will set out our proposals shortly.

But the NPIA will be phased out next year.   So I do want to be clear that the destination should be a new professional body for policing which has responsibility for training, standards and leadership.  We will, of course, talk about the detail.  We must get the governance right: there must be accountability to the local, in the form of elected Police & Crime Commissioners, as well as to the national.  It must be a body that speaks for the whole of policing, staff and officers.  But it is time that we collectively lifted our sights and saw the huge and positive opportunity which creating an inclusive, professional policing body would bring to the whole service, including rank and file officers and staff.


I want to take this work forward collaboratively, in dialogue with the service.  But let me conclude by repeating the challenges which I set out:

– The continuing need to cut crime;

– The need to cut costs;

– The need to learn positively from recent events, and

– The need to equip leaders to meet these contemporary challenges.

These are indisputably challenging times.  I appreciate that forces, officers and staff are being confronted with difficult decisions.  But I remain optimistic about the future of policing, not least because of its huge institutional strengths:

– The British model of impartial policing, where the police are part of the public not separate from it, a model which is rightly envied around the world, and

– The values of the people who work in our police service – who, overwhelmingly, joined policing inspired to serve the public and fight crime.

The benefits of change, to the public and police professionals alike, are too important to lose, and a failure to act would be damaging.  So we will continue to drive reform.  There is room for debate, but no time for denial.  The world is changing.  Successful organisations will change with it.

Nick Herbert – 2011 Speech to IPPR


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert to the IPPR on 28th March 2011.

I’d like to begin by thanking the IPPR for giving me this opportunity to speak today.  The IPPR has made a strong case for redressing what it calls the ‘accountability deficit’ in policing.  Rick Muir and Guy Lodge’s pamphlet in 2008, ‘A New Beat,’ cogently set out the case for local democratic accountability, describing police authorities as ‘weak, unaccountable and remote.’  I am glad that I am not alone in using blunt language.

It’s significant, though too often overlooked, that the case for reform of police governance is made across the political spectrum.  There is a party consensus in favour of the democratic reform of police authorities, albeit differences of view about the best model.

Nevertheless, I intend today both to re-state the case for reform and explain how we as a Government, implementing the Coalition Agreement, are going to swap the bureaucratic control of the police for democratic accountability, and how this will benefit police and public alike.

Who runs the police?

In Shanghai a few years ago, a Chinese businessman who was perplexed by the notion of parliamentary democracy asked me who, as an MP, I worked for – the government or the people?

I once put the same challenge to Sir Ian (now Lord) Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner. He declined to reply. His answer should have been unequivocal: the people.  After all, aren’t the police a public service?

Who runs the police? We probably wouldn’t ask the same question about other public services.  Head teachers and governors run schools.  Chief executives of NHS trusts run hospitals, with medical directors at their side.  We know that politicians have a role in overseeing schools and health policy, but we rightly balk at the idea that they should try and manage the services.

And yet, when the Home Secretary told the Police Federation conference last year that she didn’t want to run the police – policing was their job – some raised their eyebrows.  She was surely right to say that “professional policing means policing run by you, the professionals, not us, the politicians.”  But this was clearly a significant break from the past.

Today, some of those who rightly ask questions about the policing of demonstrations forget that politicians should not direct the police – we hold the police to account.  But that is the way that policy was going. Police forces sprang out of the municipalities, yet in recent years they have increasingly looked to the Home Office rather than their local communities.  Instead of trusting the skills, decision-making and professionalism of those that actually do the work, politicians and policy makers became focused on raising standards from Whitehall with a plethora of targets. There were even detailed instructions on how to answer telephone calls.

This government is determined to end the decade of centralisation, by axeing policing targets, scrapping unnecessary forms and ditching the so-called Policing Pledge.  We have removed ring-fences on funding and we are restoring professional discretion, allowing police officers to be crime fighters, not form writers.

The need for stronger local accountability

But the police are a monopoly service – the public can’t choose their force.  Officers must be accountable for their actions and performance.  We cannot simply release the grip of Whitehall without putting in place some other means to ensure that forces deliver.  Most crime is local.  It is far better that forces should answer to local communities than to box ticking officials in Whitehall.  But if local accountability is to substitute for the centralised performance regime of the past, it needs to be strong.

And the problem is that police authorities are not strong enough to exercise this alternative governance, and they are not sufficiently connected to the public.  Only four out of 22 inspected police authorities have been assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Audit Commission as performing well in their most critical functions.

There is also a gap between the authorities and the public they are meant to serve.  Only 8 per cent of wards in England and Wales are represented on a police authority.  Only 7 per cent of the public understand they can approach their police authority if dissatisfied with policing.  Almost no-one knows who their authority chairman is.  A recent survey found that a typical authority receives barely two letters a week from the public.  They may be doing a worthy job, and I thank authority members for their commitment, but this democratic deficit cannot continue.

The absence of a direct line of public influence is problematic for forces, too.  The founder of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, said back in the 19th Century that “the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions”.  After about a decade over which public approval of the police fell, it has now started to rise again – a welcome trend – but still only 56 per cent of the public say that the police do a good or excellent job.

A survey by Consumer Research last year found that nearly a third of those who come into contact with the police – and I don’t mean criminals – were dissatisfied.  Of the minority who complained, nearly two thirds were unhappy with the way the police dealt with their complaint.  The police were amongst the poorest performers of public services.

We should recognise and pay tribute to police success in tackling crime.  Every time I visit a force and see policing at its best I am reminded of the commitment of officers, PCSOs and staff.  And at a time when many rush to judgement on the police, as we have seen in relation to recent operations, we should remember the challenges they face.

Today I have publicly rejected criticism of the police over their handling of the riots in London, which I believe is unfair.  Of course lessons must always be learnt from such incidents.  But the readiness of officers to place themselves in harm’s way, and their can do attitude, is something for which the whole country should be grateful.  Over 50 officers were injured on Saturday; some had to be taken to hospital.  It is the violent thugs who attacked property and the police who should be condemned.

But we would be doing a disservice to officers, staff and the public if we failed to identify the areas where policing needs to improve.  Successful policing in future will rely on the bridge between the people and the police being strengthened.  Police forces will need to raise their game in relation to antisocial behaviour at one end of the spectrum, where public concern remains high, and the threat of serious organised crime at the other.  And this is at a time when budgets are necessarily being reduced, requiring chief constables to show real leadership and drive a fundamental redesign of policing to protect frontline services.

I believe that forces have the people and the will to meet these challenges, but that we now need radical change in the way we organise policing.

A Royal Commission?

To those who call for a Royal Commission to ponder these issues, I say – in common with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – that there is no time for one.  Reform cannot wait; we do not have the luxury of delay while a committee of wise men ponder and eventually agree to differ.

We live in the age of accountability and transparency: as MPs discovered, institutions which are too late to see this will be damaged as a result.  From the beginning of the next financial year – starting in just a few days – forces will need to make the significant budget reductions that the economic recovery of our country requires.  In Harold Wilson’s words, ‘I see no need for a Royal Commission … which will take minutes and waste years.’

The police reform agenda

Direct local accountability and decentralisation are part of a coherent reform agenda to cut crime.  We are also creating a powerful new National Crime Agency, to improve the fight against serious and organised crime and help protect our borders.  We are dealing with an over cluttered national policing landscape, phasing out the National Policing Improvement Agency.  We have proposed new powers to tackle antisocial behaviour and we are toughening the licensing laws.  We are reviewing police leadership, training and skills, examining pay and conditions and moving towards a reformed, more accountable ACPO. We will publish Peter Neyroud’s report on police leadership very shortly.

Central to this reform agenda is the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners. They are a key element of the government’s programme of decentralisation, where power is returned to people and communities.

We will swap bureaucratic control for democratic accountability, replacing police authorities with directly elected commissioners in all forces in England and Wales save for the City of London, which is an exception. London already has its Mayor. He will be London’s Police and Crime Commissioner and will take over functions from the Metropolitan Police Authority, which will be abolished.  From the first elections in May next year, the public will have a real say over how their area is policed.

These new commissioners will be big local figures with a powerful local mandate to drive the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour.  They will decide policing strategy and the force budget, set the local council tax precept, and appoint – and if necessary dismiss – the chief constable.  They will do all these things on behalf of the public which elected them.

The role of commissioners will be greater than that of the police authorities they replace.  That is the significance of the words ‘and crime’ in their title.  They will have a broad remit to ensure community safety, with their own budgets to prevent crime and tackle drugs.  They will work with local authorities, community safety partnerships and local criminal justice boards, helping to bring a strategic coherence to the actions of these organisations at force level.  And in future their role could be extended to other elements of the local criminal justice system, ensuring that the police and those who manage offenders operate together, working to break the cycle of crime.

Strict checks and balances

Our aim is not to abandon the ‘tripartite’ arrangement of police governance, between the Home Office, local representatives and forces, but to rebalance it.  We are recognising, in the words of the Local Government Association, that the tripartite has “become unbalanced, with the Home Secretary acquiring more and more powers at the expense of chief constables and police authorities.”

To prevent too much power from being invested in a single individual, we are putting in place strict checks and balances.  These will include local Police and Crime Panels, with representatives from each local authority and independent members, with the power to scrutinise the commissioner’s actions.  District councils will have a stake in police governance for the first time.

We need to strike the right balance here, ensuring that the panels will be effective, but guarding against appointees inappropriately cutting across the mandate of the elected commissioner.  Panels will not, and should not, have direct control over a commissioner’s decisions, and they will not be police authorities – it is commissioners who will hold forces to account, not the panels.

But the panels will have teeth.  They will have the power of veto over excessive precepts and the appointment of chief constables.  And they will have the weapon of transparency.  They will have the power to compel commissioners to release documents, summon them for questioning, and compel them to respond to any suggestions or advice.  All of this will be in public.  The thinking and decisions of commissioners will be laid bare for the people to see.

A single accountable individual

The strength of this model is that local councillors will still be involved in the governance of policing while an elected individual takes executive decisions, supported by a highly qualified team.  The principle of one accountable individual, directly responsible for the totality of force activity, is crucial to our vision.

Policing governance by committee has meant that an unelected body has power over the level of precept.  It has meant that no-one is properly held to account for decisions or poor performance.  No-one is truly in charge.  Even police authority chairs are first among equals – they are not decision-making leaders.  Under our new system, commissioners will be able to appoint their own executive teams to support them.  But the buck will stop with commissioners, and the public will cast judgement at the ballot box.

Direct elections of police authority members would not produce this single focus.  Directly elected chairs of authorities – the previous government’s latest proposal – would be the worst of all worlds, a really bad idea, where an individual would have a mandate but be unable to deliver it, routinely outvoted by a committee of appointees.  What’s more, this model would cost more.

Direct accountability at Basic Command Unit or some equivalent level is an interesting idea, and superficially attractive, but it would result in lots of politicians with a mandate, none of them actually having strategic responsibility at force level.  Someone has to set the force budget, strategic direction and appoint the chief constable.  Without a single, clear mandate, the waters remain muddied, committees still take decisions and the public loses out.

Operational independence

It’s fundamental to the British system that the police remain operationally independent.  No politician can tell a constable – a sworn officer of the crown – who to arrest.  Forces will continue to be under the legal ‘direction and control’ of their chief constable.

I welcome Sir Hugh Orde’s comments in this week’s Police Review that ‘the government has listened to our concerns’ on this issue.

There is general agreement that we should not try and define operational independence by statute.  But as Rick Muir has argued, “we need to clarify who decides what, when and how – and where politics ends and policing begins.”  A Memorandum of Understanding was recommended by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in a report last December.

The government has therefore committed to developing a new protocol –  which has also been described as a Memorandum of Understanding – to delineate the key responsibilities of Chief Constables, Police and Crime Commissioners, the new local Police and Crime Panels which will scrutinise commissioners, and the Home Secretary.  The Home Office is working with ACPO and others to ensure these principles are reflected in this document, and I hope that it will be ready to be considered alongside the Bill in the House of Lords.

Ensuring strategic policing

It has been suggested that Police and Crime Commissioners will be focused on local issues to the exclusion of those which require a strategic response – that they will be too parochial.  I doubt that they would behave in this way, but in any event they will have a clear responsibility for tackling all crime in their area and for holding the whole of their force’s activities to account.  That is the principle which underlies the vertical integration of forces.

As I have argued before, there’s a paradox of policing over the last few years.  While central government has interfered too much in matters that should be determined locally, it has been weak in areas where a stronger grip was required.  The imperative of dealing with the threat of terrorism, backed by a huge investment, saw a strong national counter terrorist network developed.

But the fight against serious and organised crime, as Sir Paul Stephenson reminded us last year, remains patchy.  There has been too little focus on ensuring value for money.  And following the failure of compulsory force amalgamations, the centre was weak in setting a new vision or driving collaboration.

The time has come to reverse this situation – giving more space for local determination with stronger local accountability, while ensuring real leadership where national organisation and cross-boundary policing is needed.

So the new National Crime Agency will transform the fight against organised crime, working with police forces.  The Home Secretary will issue a Strategic Policing Requirement, which will guide forces on their responsibilities for serious and cross-boundary policing challenges – such as terrorism, organised crime, public order and responding to major incidents and emergencies.  Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables will be under strong duties to have regard to this Requirement.

Collaboration between forces

It makes operational sense for forces to work together. But it also saves money. The Home Office is providing stronger co-ordination and support for collective procurement of goods and services by forces, including IT, where we estimate potential savings of some £380 million a year.  Around a third of spending by police forces is not on the frontline – it is on back and middle office functions.  Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary will be reporting in detail on this breakdown later this week.  But it is clear that the opportunities for savings while protecting the frontline are immense.

I flatly disagree with those who expect Police and Crime Commissioners to be obstacles to collaboration.  In fact, I expect them to be strongly motivated to drive out costs as they seek to free officers to fight crime.  They will have a public mandate to do so that is stronger than any pressure brought about by Whitehall bureaucracy.

That means that PCCs will be powerfully incentivised to look hard at what their forces do and what opportunities there are for working with other forces and other partners to do things more efficiently and effectively.

But to allay any fears, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, currently before Parliament, also places commissioners and chief constables under a strong legal duty to collaborate.

The need to tackle serious and cross-boundary criminality more effectively, and deliver support functions more efficiently, are not new problems.  They have not been brought about by the introduction of PCCs.  They are the same challenges that we have been facing for some time.  But because we are strengthening the accountability of forces to their communities, we are also able to address weaknesses in our national response to serious crime without undermining the space, freedom and discretion for local decision-making which is so important.  Put simply, the Home Office is now focusing on the right things.

Driving value for money

I expect Police and Crime Commissioners to reap a return for taxpayers by driving value for money more strongly.  Their running costs will be no more than police authorities, because we will no longer be paying allowances to councillors.  The only additional costs will be those of holding elections once every four years.  Because these will be combined with local elections, this will be £50 million.  (The Association of Police Authorities’ estimate, at double this, is wrong.)  This sum has been provided additionally by the Chancellor for 2012; it will not come out of force budgets.  To put it in context, the equivalent annual cost is less than 0.1 per cent of total police spend.

Policing in the United States

And while I am dealing with one poor argument against reform, let me address another.  Police and Crime Commissioners are not a crude import from the United States.  As Bill Bratton reminded us when he came over here last year, with some 17,000 police departments, there is no single model of policing in the US in any case.  At least that’s a number that should give the proponents of force amalgamations here some cheer.

Of course there have been things to admire and learn from the United States – Bratton’s own remarkable policing reforms in New York; the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy, similar to our own rediscovery of neighbourhood policing; the strong connection between public services and the people which direct elections create.  It was seeing Los Angeles’ street level crime mapping that persuaded me to promote that idea here – resulting in a new website,, which received over 400 million hits in the first two months, an example of the power of transparency but also the public appetite for information about crime and antisocial behaviour in their neighbourhood.

But there are other aspects of the US system which we emphatically would not wish to replicate, and many areas where our own model is superior.  In particular, we have an independent Inspectorate of Constabulary – which we are strengthening – a robust Independent Police Complaints Commission, and we have national measures to ensure the integrity of crime data collected by local forces.  Those who suggest that Police and Crime Commissioners would open the door to widespread police corruption simply do not understand our system.

The Mayor of London

And we don’t need to look across the Atlantic to see that an elected individual holding the police to account is popular.  In London, Mayor Boris Johnson has delivered on his pledges to tackle knife crime and put uniformed officers on public transport.   He has committed to keep cops on the streets – strikingly, at a time when most forces have frozen recruitment, the Met is about to begin hiring officers again. How many Londoners would prefer their police force to answer to an invisible committee?

The office of the Mayor of London has proved to be popular amongst Londoners, precisely because the Mayor is sensitive to his electorate.  Since Boris took greater charge of policing in the capital, the Metropolitan Police Authority has received four and a half time as much correspondence.  The people know who to go to and who to hold to account – and they like it.

The politicisation of policing

Nor can it be said that the Mayor’s greater involvement has politicised the Met.  In any case I find the criticism of politicisation a peculiar argument when the Home Secretary is always an elected politician and a leading member of their party.  As the IPPR’s Director, Nick Pearce, has said, “one person’s politicisation is another person’s accountability.”  If the police aren’t to answer to an elected representative of the people, who exactly will they answer to?

We judged that it would be both wrong in principle and unworkable in practice to ban political parties from fielding candidates as Police and Crime Commissioners.  But that does not mean that party politics will be introduced into police forces themselves.  Commissioners will not be permitted to appoint political advisers.  And, once again, the operational independence of officers will be crucial.

Police and Crime Commissioners will not be picking up the phone to individual officers, telling them how to do their job, who to arrest, and where to be.  They will not be permitted to sack or appoint officers, other than the chief constable – indeed under these arrangements Chief Constables will receive greater power over who they hire for their top management team than they have at the moment.

And the candidates for office need not come from the political parties.  There is a real opportunity for highly qualified independent candidates to come forward, and I hope they will.

It’s claimed that extremists will be elected, even BNP candidates.  This is nonsense: they polled just 2 per cent of the national vote in the general election.  The electoral system and size of constituencies means that their candidates will not succeed.  The same disreputable arguments – that you can’t rely on people to make the right decisions – were advanced against votes for women.

Dig deeper, and you find an elitist fear that elected Commissioners might be so brash as to reflect public concern and pledge to get tough on crime.  It’s strange that so many democrats are so wary of democracy, but I believe that we can and should trust the people.

The benefits of reform

This reform is essential to address the democratic deficit in policing, to end the era of Whitehall’s bureucratic control, to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour and to drive value for money.  I accept that police authorities will be losers, since they will be abolished.  But I believe that everyone else will gain.

Chief constables will be liberated to be crime fighters rather than government managers, free to run their workforces, and relieved of the burden of politics which they can safely leave to Police and Crime Commissioners.

Police officers will benefit from a less bureaucratic system where discretion is restored and where someone close to their force has a strong interest in driving out waste and prioritising the frontline.

Local authorities will benefit from a continuing say in the governance of policing, and district councils will have a role for the first time.

The taxpayer will see better value for value money as commissioners, who will have responsibility for the precept, focus relentlessly on efficiency in their forces.

Local policing will benefit from a strong democratic input, focusing attention on issues of public concern.  The streets will be safer.

The Home Office will be refocused on its proper role, especially to address national threats and to co-ordinate strategic action and collaboration between forces.

Above all, the public will have a voice in how they are policed.  Police and Crime Commissioners will have the mandate and the moral authority to reflect public concern on crime.

Finest service in the world

The Prime Minister said recently that we have the finest police service in the world.  Like the NHS, we should be proud of this British institution and protect what is best in it.  But we also need to ensure that the police are able to meet today’s challenges and command broad public support.

Sir Robert Peel, famously said that ‘the police are the public and the public are the police’.  Forces will continue to be run by chief constables, but their legitimacy depends on the principle that the police answer to the people they serve.

Nick Herbert – 2011 Speech on National Security


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert, the then Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, to the Serious Organised Crime Forum on 23rd May 2011.

I am grateful to Professor John Grieve and Neil Stewart Associates for inviting me to speak today.

I would like to start with an apology. I accepted this invitation from Neil Stewarts Associates to speak some time ago, and the timing seemed to be rather fortuitous. I’d hoped that we would have published our new strategy on organised crime and set out more detail about the NCA which we’re going to set up and legislate for, so that this would be a good time to both talk about that new strategy and to answer questions about it.

As things turn out, while publication is imminent it has not happened today and as you know we must publish these things first to Parliament and in the proper manner. And so, what I’m going to say I’m afraid is necessarily high-level, but I still wanted to come along to hear what you have to say and engage in this debate. That is because Serious Organised Crime is a growing concern in this country, and one which this Government is committed to tackling.

I want to try and explain why what we are proposing to do really is different to the way this threat was tackled in the past – I do believe we have an important and coherent agenda for a new approach to tackling serious and organised crime.

I see from the attendee list for today’s event that many of the key figures in the fight against organised crime are present, and I’m very pleased therefore to be discussing these issues with you.

National threats

The security of our country remains the first duty of Government. And one of the first actions as a Government was to establish a new National Security Council, chaired by the Prime Minister. It looks at the big threats to our country and assesses our response. This is a Government therefore that is focusing its attention where it should properly be.

Last October we published a National Security Strategy and a wide ranging Strategic Defence and Security Review.  Taken together they set out what we consider the current and future threats to the security of this country to be – and how we should respond to them.

As in other areas, there are tough choices to be made given the budget deficit we inherited. I think it’s important we do have a collective recognition of that.  Those choices must therefore be informed by a hard headed analysis of risks and prioritisation.

In relation to terrorism, with very significant government investment we have seen the development of a strong, increasingly integrated, national police counter terrorism network – working effectively with the Security Service in combating the continuing threat.

By comparison, though, our response to organised crime has lagged behind this threat.  Sir Paul Stephenson highlighted this in his powerful Police Foundation speech last year and the Government has responded accordingly.

Threat from organised crime

I’m conscious that I’m speaking to a knowledgeable audience. You are only too aware of the corrosive impact that organised crime has on individuals, communities, businesses and our economy.

But it is worth pausing to consider and note the scale of that threat.  We estimate that organised crime is costing this country between £20 and £40 bn a year in social and economic costs – it means that it is costing almost as much as paying the interest on our current debt.

The National Security Strategy highlighted a significant increase in organised crime as a key risk to our national security.  It also highlighted cyber crime and the security of our borders as significant concerns – both of which have an organised crime dimension.

But unlike some other national security issues, we are not talking here about some distant threat. You know this only too well. We are talking about daily instances of criminality; about vulnerable people being victimised; about communities being cowed; and law abiding citizens losing out because money is fraudulently going into the pockets of criminals rather than supporting vital public services.

Current response

Thanks to the work being driven by many of you here – and I would like to pay particular tribute to Jon Murphy’s leadership in this area – there have been genuine successes against organised crime targets. We know more about the nature of the problem now and who is involved in committing these crimes.

The latest law enforcement estimate is that there are about 38,000 people involved in organised crime impacting on the UK, involving around 6,000 groups.

But for all the good work being done by law enforcement agencies and their partners, there is a harsh reality which is this: too many of these criminals have shown themselves to be out of law enforcement’s reach. There are – to borrow a related phrase from a different era – too many ‘untouchable’ criminals.

Law enforcement has not been properly supported by national Government.  HMIC have said that that our approach has been blighted by a ‘lack of unifying direction’.

I have spoken before about the paradox of policing in recent years. That is that central Government spent too much time interfering in matters which should properly be determined locally, yet paid insufficient attention to national issues, national threats and areas where policing needed to be co-ordinated more strongly on a national basis.  Organised crime is a prime example of this.

So our determination is to reverse this position. The challenge is how to improve our overall response when set against the fiscal position that this country has inherited, and over which we have no choice.

New approach

I have already talked a little about the overall grip that we are showing on national security issues through the National Security Council.

We published, earlier this year, a New Approach to Fighting Crime.  The key elements of this are:

First, replacing bureaucratic accountability with local democratic accountability – the election of Police and Crime Commissioners being a manifestation of this. Bernard Hogan-Howe was right to note that despite the recent vote in the House of Lords, the Government does expect that Police and Crime Commissioners will be introduced across the whole of England and Wales, with the first elections taking place in May next year. That is because this policy was written into the coalition agreement.  It is therefore right to expect that this policy will be properly scrutinised and that the issue of checks and balances will be properly addressed. Nevertheless we do intend to go ahead with it and we expect the Commons to reinstate the policy. I want to talk a bit more in due course on the significance of this policy proposal.

The second element in our new approach to fighting crime was that of increased transparency. The third element is engaged and active communities. And we see a link between these last two with the launch of the street-level crime mapping website, which has seen an astonishing 400m + hits since it was launched. This demonstrated the public’s concern about crime in their neighbourhood, and not just low-level volume crime: we know that neighbourhoods are also affected by serious organised crime and its impact.

We also set out how we intend to return discretion to professionals and how we want to drive efficiency across the criminal justice system.

We talked about a focus on preventing crime happening in the first place.

And we referred to the new focus on organised crime.

Now these issues are all interlinked. I will say a little more about the organised crime aspect in a second. But our focus on improving our response to that criminality must be seen in a broader context.

So let me highlight a couple of points:

Value for money

Reducing the budget deficit remains a priority. As I said repeatedly at the Police Federation Conference it is inescapable. The fight against organised crime is subject to the same need to maximise efficiencies as other areas of law enforcement.

Nevertheless I was able recently to announce that we are providing £3m in 2011/12 to support improvements in the national coordination of organised crime policing.  We are also providing £19m in 2011/12 and £18m in 2012/13 to provide specific support for regional organised crime policing capabilities, including Regional Asset Recovery Teams, and I am pleased that this announcement has been welcomed by ACPO.

The local/national balance and our overall police reform programme.

There is a view, I know, that Police and Crime Commissioners will focus only on very local issues, on volume crime, to the detriment of threats which may extend to the national level. Some suggest that they will not focus on issues such as serious and organised crime.

I simply don’t accept this analysis.  Police and Crime Commissioners will be responsible for ensuring the effective delivery of the full range of policing services.

We have an important principle in this country, which is that the chief constables are responsible for the totality of policing in the own force areas. That is the principle of the vertical integration of police forces, and those who hold chief constables to account are therefore responsible (in the case of current Police Authorities and in future Police and Crime Commissioners) for holding that totality of policing to account.

To move away from that principle would be to suggest that there would be somehow a split in both the operation of our police forces and the way they were held to account. I do not detect an appetite either within the profession or indeed in any political debate for that. So let us hold on to that golden thread and recognise that there serious and organised crime runs right down to the neighbourhood policing agenda, just as in our response to terrorism.

And I think we also have to accept that there is be an alternative model which some suggest would give a bigger focus on serious and organised crime, namely the creation of large regional forces. I accept that there are some who perfectly legitimately advocate that as a solution to dealing with these issues. But I simply need to occupy the space of real politick and repeat gently but firmly that there is no possibility of such a policy going through the House of Commons; the last Government had to abandon it in the face of opposition, and that is because there is no public support for it.

Therefore what we have to do, given an acceptance that there are going to be 43 forces in England, is to consider how we ensure that there is a proper focus on national threats (including the issue of serious and organise crime), given that we have that number of forces which are vertically integrated with Chief Constables responsible for the totality of policing in their areas.

And what I want to point out is that we have written into the bill that is currently before parliament some very significant changes that will assist in relation to the proper co-ordination of policing in this area.

First of all the bill contains a new provision – a Strategic Policing Requirement which requires the Home Secretary to set out what, in her view, are the national threats, and the appropriate policing requirements to counter those threats. This is an important element of our overall approach to policing. Organised crime will feature as one such national threat.

We are working constructively now with ACPO and our other partners on the detail of the Strategic Policing Requirement.  I want to get this right – and be very clear about the practical implications of it for chief officers and for Police and Crime Commissioners.

There will be strong duties on local forces to have regard to the Strategic Policing Requirement – it encapsulates exactly the reversal of the current position, so that in this area there will be stronger local co-ordination because there is a national threat.

But let me be clear about this – the SPR is new but it deals with an existing problem. It is not being introduced because we believe a problem will be created by the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners.

The failure to ‘close the gap’ was caused by the existing model of policing governance.

The SPR is an important part of the package of policing reforms that we are introducing, and to characterise those reforms as simply being the introduction of local democratic accountability is to get only half of the point.

The second important duty that we’re placing upon the local policing bodies is strong duties to collaborate. I recently set out in a speech up in Ryton why we think it is important to drive the agenda of collaboration, not just so as to drive stronger value for money in policing but also so to achieve greater operational effectiveness.

This is an important necessity, given that we are not going to move towards the creation of strategic police forces. It is something which the Inspectorate has identified needs to happen at a far greater pace.

So two statutory requirements are being placed upon local policing bodies: to collaborate and to have the regard to the Strategic Policing Requirement. In these lies the answers to those who believe that in future there will be an excessive focus on the local and on volume crime – there will not, there will be a proper balance, and it is right that there should be.

Focus on organised crime

Let me also say a little more about two elements of how our new focus on organised crime will manifest itself – firstly through a new strategic approach; and secondly through a new operational body – the National Crime Agency.

We have signalled that we will publish as I mentioned a new strategy on organised crime.  There have, I know, been consistent calls for Government to set out a clear approach.

We will set the unifying direction that HMIC have called for.  In doing so, we want to galvanise the work of all those with a responsibility to combat organised crime.  It is a big community – a range of government departments; a range of law enforcement agencies; their criminal justice partners; our security and intelligence agencies; local partners; business and the private sector.  And the public have a role too.

We want, I think, to emulate what CONTEST has done for our response to international terrorism – though without the level of new funding which that strategy originally enjoyed.  But that strategy is an interesting benchmark.

Alongside an emphasis on hard-edged enforcement, we want to put an emphasis in the strategy on prevention and self protection work.  This is about increasing the risks to criminals and the likelihood of them getting caught; while at the same time reducing vulnerabilities and criminal opportunities.

We will want to talk about the importance of intelligence to our response; about ways to improve our operational capabilities; and how we can best develop our international response to what is a global threat.

The strategy needs to work from the local to the global level.  The links are clear.  Our national security depends on having safe and secure neighbourhoods.

I see the need for a strong communications effort in all this – to reach out in public messaging terms about the nature of the organised crime threat, and what we are collectively doing about it.

The strategy reflects, again, this Government putting its focus and energy where it properly should be.

National Crime Agency

The strategy is inextricably linked to the establishment of the new National Crime Agency, the creation of which we signalled last year.  As I mentioned we will shortly publish details about how we see the new Agency operating.  But let me say a few things now.

As we’ve said – the NCA will spearhead our response to organised crime, will encompass work against child exploitation and improve the security of our borders.  It will harness and exploit the intelligence, analytical and enforcement capabilities and reach of SOCA and other agencies, as well as incorporating those capabilities which rest elsewhere at a national level.  It will build and maintain a comprehensive picture of the threats, harms and risks to the UK from organised criminals and be responsible for ensuring that those criminals are subject to a prioritised level of operational response.

The NCA will be an integral part of the UK law enforcement landscape.  It will be led by a senior Chief Constable and have strong, two-way links with local police forces and other law enforcement agencies.

Accountable to the Home Secretary, and underpinned by the Strategic Policing Requirement which I have mentioned, the NCA will reinforce the golden thread of policing. It will work with Police and Crime Commissioners, Chief Constables, devolved administrations and others to connect activity from the local to the international – in country, at the border, and overseas.

There are improvements we can make before the NCA comes fully into being.  I support the work which law enforcement leaders are driving through the Organised Crime Partnership Board to improve our knowledge and mapping of the threat; and the coordination of the law enforcement response to it.

These are critical building blocks as we establish the NCA.  And I want to reiterate that in developing both the organised crime strategy and our proposals for the National Crime Agency we have been in the closest consultation with ACPO and other relevant bodies. This is to ensure that we set out these very significant proposals on a properly grounded basis where we have involved right at the beginning of these ideas the most senior practitioners involved in law enforcement in the country.

I also mentioned that the proposals for the NCA follow the call by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police for a approach to dealing with Serious and Organised Crime that is significantly different. This is because it involves a national agency actually having a tasking responsibility in relation to Serious and Organised crime, something that we have not seen so far.


As I’ve said – more detail on the issues I’ve covered today will be forthcoming very soon.  So this is just a flavour. But I wanted to reiterate that as a Government, we are committed to fulfilling our national responsibilities to keep this country – and our communities – safe and secure. To fight crime, and that means serious and organised crime too.

Organised criminals – as you well know – are agile and adaptable.  Our collective challenge is to match that. There should be no criminal untouchables.

Nick Herbert – 2011 Speech on Police Funding


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert, the then Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, to City Forum on 25th January 2011.

The Spending Review settlement sees government funding for the police fall by 20 per cent in real terms by the end of the four year period – some £2.1 billion.  I want to explain why this settlement for the police is necessary, challenging, but manageable – and how we are helping the service meet that challenge.

But I also want to set out why I believe that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option for police forces and authorities.  I will argue that a fundamental redesign of police force organisation is now needed.


Let me start by addressing some of the concerns that have been set out.

There are some who say that police funding should not be cut, or not by so much.  But this government inherited the toughest fiscal challenge in living memory.  We have had no option but to reduce public spending.  The police service, in spending over £13 billion a year, cannot be exempt from the requirement to save public money.

But my absolute priority – and that of the Home Secretary – is to ensure that the England and Wales police retains and enhances its ability to protect and serve the public. By improving efficiency, driving out waste, and increasing productivity, I believe that we can make the police service stronger even as it becomes leaner.

It has been argued that the distribution of grant between forces is unfair. We looked closely at whether it would be right or possible to adjust the grant reduction to take into account the fact that some forces raise less from their precept than others, but there were a number of objections to that.  One is that by doing so, we would be penalising council tax payers in other areas who already pay far more for their policing services and have had a big increase in council tax over previous years. That would certainly be unfair. And by subsidising forces – including large forces with greater capacity – in that way, we would be asking others to take a larger cut in central grant than 20 per cent. They would have regarded that as unfair, too.  The fair solution, and the one expected by forces and authorities, was to treat all forces in the same way with an equal cut in grant.

Of course there has been much focus on the expectation that police officer numbers and staff numbers will fall.  But as I have consistently argued, this is a narrow focus. The test of the effectiveness of a police force cannot be how much is being spent on it or how many staff it employs.  There is no simple and automatic link between officer numbers and crime levels.  There is no simple and automatic link between officer numbers and their visibility to the public.

Of course, to use the great Bill Bratton’s phrase when he visited us last year, cops count.  But, as he also argued, the effectiveness of a police force – like any organisation – depends primarily on how well the resources available to it are used.

Manageable reductions

Some have said that the funding settlement is not manageable – or that the profile of the reductions makes it harder.  But the overall settlement is just that – settled. Neither the 20 per cent real reduction in government grant nor the profile are negotiable.  In cash terms – not taking into account inflation – the average reduction for forces’ grant is 4 per cent in the first year, five per cent in the second, 2 per cent in the third and 1 per cent in the fourth.  That doesn’t affect the council tax funding for forces, which is determined locally, and which on average accounts for a quarter of all police funding. Those figures illustrate the fact that although these are challenging reductions, they are manageable, provided that considerable savings can be realised.

Let’s be under no illusions about what the core challenge is. It’s not just to reduce costs. The core challenge is to reduce costs while maintaining and indeed improving public services.  The police are ‘can-do’ – and I’m constantly impressed by the determination I’ve seen from police officers and staff to do just that.

I appreciate that many in the police workforce are worried about their remuneration and their jobs. I certainly do not belittle this concern, which is wholly understandable.  But my first priority must be to ensure the best service to the public within the financial constraints which we all face.

This challenge requires real leadership, decisive leadership. Transformational leadership from chief constables, who I know can provide it.  Local political leadership from police authorities and their successor directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners. And strong, strategic leadership from the government, which the service rightly expects and which I am determined to provide.

So let me explain the broad strategy – and how we will ensure that it is delivered.

It is to:

– improve frontline services

– spend the minimum on other functions

– from the start think about transformation and long-term change, not tactical salami slicing

The police service needs to maintain and improve frontline services – which includes both visible frontline policing – for example, response and neighbourhood functions – and the less visible frontline functions – like investigation. This isn’t about maintaining frontline numbers – it’s about the service to the public.

There are many tools to hand.  Better management and organisation can increase availability to the public.  Better rostering and shifts will increase availability at the times of peak demand.  More professional discretion, less bureaucracy and better use of IT will enable the most effective use of the time of frontline officers and staff.  Just as the police service’s leaders seized and met the transformative challenge of neighbourhood policing, I believe they can seize and meet this new challenge across all frontline functions.

Much of my focus in this speech will be on savings in non frontline functions.  But before I move to those I want here to give some examples that show how the frontline can become more productive:

West Yorkshire Police have significantly reduced the time to investigate a crime – improving the standard of initial investigation they reduced the average time to investigate low level crime by 85 per cent

Wiltshire has significantly reduced the time neighbourhood and response officers spend in custody centres and off the streets from an average of 27 minutes to an average of 10 minutes. This is worth 3,000 extra hours of street policing

In Brighton, Sussex Police, my own force, have put in place a dedicated team for secondary investigations, reducing the amount of paperwork that response officers have to complete and allowing them to return quickly to the streets after answering a call.  This saved nearly £1 million, improved response times, and sped up the time it takes to complete an investigation.

At the same time, the police service needs to minimise what it spends on non-frontline functions.  Some of these are back office functions (like finance and HR) and some of these are what we tend to call middle office functions (such as training, custody and criminal justice administration).  These functions have grown disproportionately as the money rolled in and bureaucracy predominated. As Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, told the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this month: ’ … some of our headquarters operations had got too big.’

I’m not saying that these functions can or should be abolished. I am saying that they need to become much leaner. They need to cost the minimum consistent with supporting the frontline in the context of a less bureaucratic approach to public service delivery.

Delivering change

I want now to explain the national part in making sure that the necessary changes happen.  It is true that the primary responsibility is local.  That realisation is at the heart of the government’s approach across the piece. Indeed, rejecting Whitehall’s costly bureaucratic accountability and replacing it with local democratic accountability, and alongside this restoring professional discretion, is at the heart of our new approach.

We’re not going to be micro-managers.  Micro-management from Whitehall is what causes unnecessary bureaucracy and a focus on feeding the machine.  The Home Secretary has made clear that this is the wrong approach.  It’s an approach that doesn’t save money – it has created many of the costs which now need to be reduced.

But there’s a paradox of policing over the last few years.  While central government has interfered too much in matters that should be determined locally, it has been weak in areas where a stronger grip was required.  The imperative of dealing with the threat of terrorism, backed by a huge investment, saw a strong national counter terrorist network developed.  But the fight against serious and organised crime, as Sir Paul Stephenson reminded us last year, remains patchy.  There has been too little focus on ensuring value for money.  And following the failure of compulsory force amalgamations – to which I shall return – the centre was weak in setting a new vision or driving collaboration.

The time has come to reverse this situation – giving more space for local determination with stronger local accountability, while ensuring real leadership where national organisation is required.

So let me set out the elements of a new approach to driving savings.


First, transparency – a principle which is running through our agenda for public service reform. Transparency of data and use of comparative data are absolutely key parts of enabling and driving change – data on costs and service which is accessible to the public to reinforce the behaviours that drive value for money.

This is the fundamental significance of HMIC’s Value for Money Profiles which set out publicly that information for forces, authorities and the public.

HMIC lead in publishing comparisons – and will publish the next edition of the Profiles shortly. And let me be clear that revealing key information about performance is not the same as managing performance.  I am committed to moving away from micro-management and reducing the burden of compliance and bureaucracy on forces.  But without information the consumer cannot be king and the taxpayer cannot ensure value.  We must not confuse the demand for information with the demand to do things in a certain way.

Let me give an example of how this approach can help to identify savings.  In the summer, HMIC took a look at the different levels of spending between similar forces across a number of functions.  Suppose each force managed down its costs to the average of its peers.  Not to the best – but to the average.  That would save well over £1 billion a year.  Neither HMIC, nor I, are saying that this can be done without effort – indeed it requires a transformational effort.  But it shows what could be achieved just by asking all forces to match the average performance of their peers.  And I note that there is cross-party agreement that these savings, which can be realised while protecting the frontline, would be expected by any government.

But why shouldn’t forces be able to go further by matching the performance of the best, rather than merely the average?  That doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable ambition on behalf of the taxpayer.  Suppose we look across a range of support functions – for example, back office functions (like finance and HR) and the middle office functions (such as training, custody, control rooms and criminal justice administration).  If forces improved productivity and adjusted to the level of spend of that typical of the more efficient forces, that could add another £350 million to the savings calculated in HMIC’s summer report.

Pay and other conditions of service

Second, we cannot avoid the issue of pay. It accounts for the bulk of total police spending – around £11 billion last year.  And any organisation in which the majority of cost is pay and which is facing hard times has to look at its pay bill.  The government has announced a policy for a two year pay freeze across the public sector.  Subject to any recommendations from the Police Negotiating Board and agreement on staff pay, this might save some £350m.

We have also asked Tom Winsor to review the remuneration and conditions of service of police officers and staff.  It’s vital that we have a modern and flexible police service.  Through allowing more modern management practices, this review will help ensure chief constables can deliver the frontline services people want, while providing the value for money that is so vital in the tough economic times we face.

The government has asked the review to make recommendations that are fair to, and reasonable for, both the taxpayer and police officers and staff. And I do want to emphasise the importance of fairness to police officers who cannot strike and who often do a difficult and dangerous job on behalf of the public. Tom Winsor’s first report is due to be published in February, with the second part due in June.

IT, goods and services

Third, we also need to look at what police forces buy. Police non-pay spending amounted to some £3½ billion in 2009/10 – around one-quarter of the total of revenue and capital spend. So while this is much smaller than spending on pay, it’s still a very substantial amount of money which has to form a key part of the approach to the next few years.  The potential savings are not to be dismissed, they are not small beer.

For too long the police service has been a fragmented customer for goods, services and IT. This also means it has been more difficult and costly than it ought to be for the private sector to sell to the service.

There has been some collaboration in these areas. However, without the incentive of the need to save, this work has not proceeded quickly enough.  We have clear agreement now with the leaders of the police service that the right way forward is a concerted, nationally-led approach.

With this change, we estimate that we can save some £380m on procurement of goods, services and the police IT programme, ISIS.  The vast bulk of this – around a third of a billion or more – will be additional to the savings which HMIC have projected.

We can do this by getting better contracts, reducing the volume of unnecessary spend, reducing the multiplicity of IT systems, and helping police leaders focus on policing not procuring.

We announced in our consultation document Policing in the 21st Century that the government would specify the contractual arrangements to be used by the police service to procure equipment and services. We have already consulted widely on the first regulations to specify frameworks that the service would be required to use.  This is a big change – moving away from multiple frameworks and buying by each force separately, or in ad hoc partnerships.  Instead we will increasingly have mandated national frameworks.

Let me turn to another key element of this part of the approach – ISIS: the police Information Systems Improvement Strategy. This isn’t a new programme – the previous government wanted to converge police IT – but progress has been limited.  There remain 2,000 different IT systems across the 43 forces, employing 5,000 staff.  The budgetary situation today demands action.

So I can now set out for you the approach which I have agreed with police leaders to ensure this work is driven forwards.

We will move to national arrangements for police IT rather than locally delivered arrangements.  We will prefer delivery in partnership – particularly with the private sector – to ‘in-house’ delivery.  We want a broader focus on common business processes for policing rather than just a specific focus on IT. We want IT delivered as a series of services with forces paying for the IT they consume rather than continuing with a systems based model. And we will learn the lessons of costly government IT failures in opting for an incremental approach, which will still yield early opportunities, rather than a ‘big bang’ solution.


Fourth, we need to look again at collaboration.  Let me be frank.  While the service has made progress in collaborating on protective services, collaboration in order to save money isn’t going ahead quickly enough.  Some useful progress has made in using collaboration to manage specialist resources and build capacity.  But in general there is simply not enough progress being made in sharing forces’ middle and back offices to save money.

HMIC made this observation in their report last June on “Valuing the Police”.  I say we are not seeing enough signs of change.

This isn’t a matter of losing local identity.  Local policing services and their command must stay local.  I’m a passionate believer in that.  Compulsory force mergers are off the table.  I don’t believe in them, the public doesn’t support them, and the House of Commons wouldn’t vote for them.  But we cannot allow a vacuum simply because a regional structure was preferred and then dropped.  Forces don’t need to merge commands to share services.

We must now see a step change in collaboration between forces.  We’ve seen leadership on national arrangements through the successful development of police databases like the PNC. Imagine policing without them.

And ACPO, through the work of Chief Constable Alex Marshall, has shown leadership in developing proposals for a National Police Air Service, which would save £15 million a year.  If the service’s operational leaders have concluded that this is the way forward, I hope and expect that police authorities will rapidly endorse the proposals.

We now need the same leadership from the service in a new space – middle and back office collaboration, identifying what services could be candidates, bringing forces together, and agreeing common business processes.

Support and advice to forces

Fifth, we must provide the right support for forces.  Intensive continuous improvement programmes such as Quest have shown the value of assistance from the centre.

Cross-agency work in West Yorkshire and Sussex has shown what can be achieved by partnership and active, well-led, business process re engineering.  In both these counties, the police and partners mapped out processes truthfully end to end.  They looked at the stocks and flows of cases, and the drivers of performance and cost.  They developed quantified actions and turned them into detailed implementation plans.  Then they carried out the plans using robust management information to tweak solutions and track progress.  In West Yorkshire, for example, this reduced so called “cracked and ineffective” trials – wasted work in other words – by a third.  The time it took cases to get to trial also fell by a third.

Working with the private sector

Sixth, I particularly want to highlight an area where we are working to assist the police service – and that’s with the private sector.  Indeed the title of this conference is “A new strategic partnership between the police and industry”, one I believe we must forge.

A key strength of police leaders is their ability to bring in partners to work with them.  I’ve seen this, time and again, in good local partnerships between the police and other parts of the public sector.

The challenge requires the police service to develop that capability further, to bring in the private sector’s skills to work alongside those of the police.

There are already good examples of work with the private sector, with forces such as West Yorkshire re-engineering their business processes.

What we need to do is bring in key commercial skills that the public sector does not naturally have.  This can go beyond help with business process re-engineering, to include outsourcing – a journey on which the police service has only just begun.

Some people talk about an incompatibility between profit and public service.  But if the private sector has the middle and back office skills which forces need – and the right price can be negotiated – it’s not serving the public to reject the outsourcing option.

And outsourcing need not stop at back office functions.  Where operational functions in the middle office could be run better and more cost effectively by the private sector, there should be no ideological barrier to change.  We have already seen improvements through contracted out functions such as custody suites.  Other forces have looked further, including into functions such as control rooms.

Because what matters to the public is the frontline – the police officer who is there for them, patrolling the street, responding to a 999 call or investigating a crime.  The public does not see the back or middle office which supports the officer who helps them, and they do not mind who runs those functions.  What they do want these functions to be as lean as possible so that the visible and available policing which they particularly value is protected and indeed enhanced.  They want their officers to be crime fighters, not form writers.


And that’s what I want to see, too.  Every pound we save by re-engineering the back and middle office will contribute towards maintaining the frontline policing which must be prioritised.

And the potential savings I’ve quantified in this speech are considerable.  They amount to £2.2 billion a year, outstripping the £2.1 billion real reduction in grant – and that ignores the contribution from the local taxpayer.  £1.15 billion outlined already by HMIC.  A further £350 million from bringing middle and back office functions to the level of spend of that typical of the more efficient forces.  Some £350 million again from the potential pay freeze.  A further £350 million or more from a new approach to procurement and IT.

I do not suggest that achieving these savings will be easy.  To achieve them we all need to change the way we do business.  Dealing with reductions in government funding will create a new imperative for action, changing the incentives on local decision makers.  It already is.  But to achieve the scale of change necessary, we need to drive this re-design of police organisation across the 43 forces.

The time for talking about IT convergence, collective procurement, collaboration, sharing and outsourcing services is over.  We cannot afford not to do these things, and we cannot afford delay.  And where necessary, the Government will mandate the changes required. I hope that won’t be necessary. But let’s be clear about one thing, the era of 43 fiefdoms is over.

That is why in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill currently before the Commons we are introducing strong duties to collaborate on both Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Officers, and introducing new powers for the Government to be able to set out strategic expectations for collaboration.  I expect forces to join with other forces to save money in their back and middle offices.  HMIC will be looking further at whether they are doing so, and chiefs need to exercise strong leadership to make this change happen.

I am very grateful to the NPIA for the work it has done in identifying savings.  But this organisation cannot take forward solutions which aren’t accepted by the individual forces.  We need a new approach.  We have announced the phasing out of the NPIA.  But – as we have also made clear – this will not mean that value for money related programmes such as those I’ve mentioned in this speech will end.  We need to de-clutter the national policing landscape, but these programmes will continue – picking up pace, not retreating.

And the government is taking a direct interest in ensuring that savings are realised.  We have set up a High Level Working Group, which I now chair, with representation from chief constables and police authorities to identify the right change programmes and agree that they should be taken forward.  We all recognise that it is no longer business as usual.

Together with the Cabinet Office we are helping the police service to organise so that it gains the maximum benefit from working with the private sector – and the taxpayer gains the maximum value.

Yesterday’s approach saw individual forces making their own deals with the private sector. Today we will combine the purchasing power of the 43.

The basic mission for which the police exist, as Sir Robert Peel stated, is to prevent crime and disorder. Every chief constable I have met has impressed on me his or her determination to do everything possible to protect frontline services while dealing with the reduction in funding.

But this requires more than a focus purely on tactical cost cutting. What’s needed is transformational change which places service improvement at its heart.

The government is determined to play its part in driving this change. I don’t underestimate the challenge, but I am absolutely confident that forces can rise to it.’

Nick Herbert – 2010 Speech at Oxford Farming Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Nick Herbert at the Oxford Farming conference on 5th January 2010.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

Thank you very much indeed for having me here to speak at the Oxford Farming Conference.

I didn’t know there was a university here.  And so it’s a huge pleasure to discover that there is.

As Heather explained, I read Land Economy – allegedly – at the real Magdalene College, Cambridge.  I studied with somebody called Rob Andrew.

He was, in effect, studying rugby; I was studying racing.  One of us isn’t doing quite as well as we should be at the moment – I’ll leave you to judge who that is.

We know what the key challenge is.

There’s no dispute about that now.

We know that there is a fundamental issue that confronts not just us as a country, but the world – which is the challenge of ensuring food security, the growing world population matched by the pressure of climate change, food supplies become scarce in a very short space of time, food availability for many parts of the world – as the Secretary of State rightly reminded us – already in scarce supply.

And I welcome the fact the Government has – I’m afraid belatedly – recognised the importance of increasing food production in this country.  I’m not going to depart from that note of consensus without observing that over the past decade British food production has actually fallen.  And indeed it was the explicit position of the Government up until recently that it didn’t matter where our food came from, that it could be simply sourced from abroad and indeed to be in denial about the issue of food security.

It’s incredibly important that we have an understanding and a debate about these issues now – about the importance of production both internationally and domestic and increasing production – and that we don’t sweep these issues under the carpet in the way that the energy security debate was swept under the carpet by politicians for far too long.

I want to talk about two challenges which are components of this food security challenge.

1. The fiscal challenge

The first is one that doesn’t feature that highly in the Government document published today.  It is that we face a resources challenge which is in part a fiscal challenge.  That’s the unmentioned thing, which is not in the document.

The reality of the economic situation in this country today …

The fact that the country has been brought close to the edge of bankruptcy …

That other EU Member States face similar pressures on their budgets.

And that that will inform the next round of CAP negotiations in the run up to 2013.

Pressure on the EU Budget …

Pressure on domestic financing …

Pressure on departmental budgets …

We have to understand that reality.

And it’s therefore clear that when we talk about boosting production, what we’re not talking about is increasing Government spending.

What we’re not talking about is the return to the days of intervention, or floor prices.

The direction of travel of CAP reform will be maintained.

And that means that we have to think carefully about what we all actually do understand about Government support for agriculture if boosting production is the agreed aim.

What does that Government support actually mean?

And I think that we need to look at this under two key headings.

A fair market

The first is the importance of ensuring a fair market that works in everybody’s interest.

I’m a believer in free markets, but where there is market failure, I believe that it is the duty of governments to act.

We need to ensure in the market in which agriculture in this country operates – within the CAP – that we have a level playing field.

And the ongoing process of reform will mean that we will need to ensure that it remains a level playing field, and that attempts at government support through the back door by Member States that would distort that market, and distort that playing field, are resisted.

But here at home we also need to ensure that the market is operating properly in response to the needs of the consumer.

That’s why I’ve said today that we agree with the Competition Commission about the importance of ensuring that the Code of Practice in relation to Grocery Supply can be enforced and needs to be enforced by the creation of an Ombudsman.

Indeed the Competition Commission was clear that the absence of proper enforcement or an effective code could mean less investment and innovation by producers and that would be to the detriment of consumers in the longer-term.

So here’s an example of a practical policy that a Government can and should introduce, can do so very quickly at relatively low cost.

We would site the Ombudsman within the existing Office of Fair Trading to ensure that we weren’t creating another quango.

A practical policy to ensure that the market can operate fairly, and one that will be in the interests of producers, too.

Honest labelling

Similarly we need to ensure that the consumer really is king.

And to be king, the consumer requires real information.  And that information isn’t being given to consumers at the moment who are being misled by produce – meat for instance – that can be imported from other countries, falsely labelled, and passed off as British.

That let’s down our producers.  It means that the relatively high animal welfare standards in this country are undermined.  We’ve seen the effect on our pig production.

That’s why honest labelling is so important.

But it’s not enough to talk in some vague way about the importance of honest labelling.  It’s not enough to say that there are negotiations going on in the EU – particularly when we discover that actually officials who are involved in those negotiations are vetoing the very compulsory labelling that the Government claims it wants to introduce.

We actually need action.

Just as we need action in relation to the supermarkets and the Code of Practice, so we need action in relation to honest labelling.

And I’m delighted that the major supermarkets have responded to our Honest Food campaign, and have agreed to re-label many of their products.  That’s a step in the right direction.

But if they won’t agree and there are recalcitrants, then Government must be ready to act, to make the case forcefully in the EU, and if necessary to introduce domestic legislation.

Local food is increasingly important.  It’s a feature now of the modern agricultural industry.

The growing interest in food is a very good thing for British producers.

Sustainable government procurement

We can do so much more to help to promote that.  And Government itself can use its own influence and lead by example.

That’s why I think that Government departments should be made to procure food sustainably.

And that will in most cases mean local food.

We have a very variable performance across Government departments at the moment.  Why not make it mandatory that Government departments procure their food in a sustainable manner and then drive that policy out across the public sector?

A sector that spends in total £2 billion a year on food procurement.

It would make a huge difference to producers in this country and to our goal of boosting production if we were to have government with a small “g” leading by example and using its own spending power to back local production.

I visited a farm near Taunton just before Christmas.  The farmer was supplying one of his local hospitals with milk.  The other hospital did not source from him.  Interestingly, he was supplying at a lower price than the other hospital was actually paying.

Local food procurement does not necessarily mean higher prices.  Indeed it can mean lower prices.  And it can certainly mean better quality and a boost for the local economy.

So here, then, are practical measures we can take to ensure this first key principle: the operation of a fair market if what we want to do is boost domestic production.

A competitive industry

The second thing we need to ensure is that we have a competitive industry.  And again it is not good enough to talk in vague terms about ensuring a competitive industry unless we are willing to take the tough measures to ensure that British producers can compete in the market.

And one of the first responsibilities of Government is to ensure that we have a system of animal health that enables our producers to survive and indeed flourish.

It is necessary for instance to take action on Bovine TB.  Yes, with a badger cull if necessary, because we cannot funk that decision.

We cannot ignore the impact on our producers …

…the cost to the Exchequer

…or the implications for animal welfare

… if we simply sweep these issues under the carpet.

There will – in my view – have to be cost and responsibility sharing in relation to animal health going forward.

But that must be on the basis of true responsibility sharing, not imposition by the Government.

Effective regulation

Similarly, if we’re serious about ensuring a competitive industry, then we need to act in relation to regulation and be serious about a de-regulatory agenda.

We have seen the imposition of regulation on British farming, much of it driven by the EU and much of it, by our own Government’s estimation, unjustified and imposing cost.

We can’t take farmers close to the market and keep this as a central ambition and at the same time tie farmers’ hands behind their back.

That’s why I think that we need to be making the case in the EU, as I sought to do at the end of last year, for proper cost benefit analysis of regulation before it is introduced.

So that things like EID, the Pesticides Directive – regulations which actually we do not believe in our country are proportionate, justified or necessary – can be challenged.

And we must ensure that when we are introducing regulation in our own country that we are not gold-plating.

We must move to a system where we are measuring performance much more on outcomes rather than on process.

Whether I visit a farm …

Whether I visit a GP in his surgery …

Whether I visit a local police officer …

Whether I visit a head teacher …

They all say the same thing to me.

‘Will you please stop telling us how to do our job?’

‘We are professionals and we know how to do the job.’

We need to move to a system where, yes, we are specifying the outcomes – we don’t give up on the high outcomes that we want, whether it’s in relation to protecting the environment or ensuring safety – but we need to try move to a system where we are much more interested in the outcome and less interested in dictating the process.

Because that dictat of process not only undermines the morale of the professional – ties that person up in endless form-filling and bureaucracy – it’s also immensely costly.

And if we’re serious about the agenda of delivering more from less, of reducing the burden of government, then we’re going to have to find serious ways of freeing people from that burden.

Research & Development

Thirdly, if we want to ensure a competitive industry, then we’re going to have to focus more on research and development ….

Both on the science which is going to be so important to drive up productivity and boost production in the future to prepare for a world where there’s increasing pressure on natural resources ….

But also to ensure that our farmers are properly equipped with the skills that they need to adapt to increasingly tough competition in the marketplace.

Increasingly, I think we will see funding through the CAP directed through the Second Pillar.

This presents an opportunity to secure the kind of investment that I’m talking about.

And we must be led by the science.

We must have a rational debate about the future of new technologies, including GM.

It’s important that we don’t turn our back on the potential for progress.

2. The natural resources challenge

The second resources challenge is equally important.

I started by talking about the resources challenge of fiscal resources and pressure on the public finances – that’s pressure across the EU.

But the environmental challenge is of course fundamental.

We need to ensure that as we boost production, we do so in a sustainable manner.

I read a letter in the Farmers Weekly in the autumn, written by a farmer from the West of England.

It said that protecting the environment was incompatible with increasing food production ….

That agriculture should be left with its own Ministry and that environment should be taken off somewhere else.

I fundamentally disagree with that.

If there’s one thing that we have learnt over the last year, it is that you cannot live beyond your means.

Individuals cannot live beyond their means.

Businesses cannot live beyond their means – no businessman actually needs reminding of that.

Governments cannot live beyond their means.

And just as you cannot live beyond your economic means, so you cannot live beyond your environmental means.

We cannot turn the clock back

Boosting domestic production cannot mean ushering in a new decade of intensification regardless of the environmental impact.

We have to find a way of boosting production sustainably, and conserving natural resources.

Science is going to be immensely important.

But production and protection cannot be alternatives.

Finding strategies to conserve water – and I have proposed, for instance, the re-regulation of the water industry to ensure that we value water properly ….

Finding ways to ensure soil quality …

All of these will be immensely important.

And part of that sustainability agenda also presents an opportunity for farming in the need to reduce waste.

The opportunity of using farm waste to generate energy.  A massively underexploited technology in this country as we search for new ways to produce energy through renewables.

These are challenges, yes, for farming, but also potential opportunities.

Climate change

But as we seek to lower the carbon footprint of agriculture – as we must – we must have a sensible debate about the means to do that.

I do not regard campaigns which are jumping on the bandwagon of the crucial issue of ensuring action against dangerous climate change, campaigns which are seeking to reduce our meat consumption, as a sensible contribution to that debate.

And it’s important that Government makes up its mind about what it thinks about this crucial issue.

You cannot have one Government department saying it wants to boost production, and another Government department – as happened just before Christmas – producing a report saying that it wants to cut livestock production by a third.

Which is it?

What we need to do is ensure that there is the investment in the science and research to reduce methane emissions from livestock.

And I’ve called for Britain to sign up to the Global Alliance pioneered by New Zealand to ensure that research in that vital area is pooled.

Because we have a shared interest with many other countries in ensuring that.

We need to have a sensible debate about the role of farming in the lower carbon world – not one that is driven by pressure groups or fads.

And the last thing that I want to say about the environmental challenge that farming faces is that the natural environment and protecting the natural environment will remain a core concern of any government.

And we have to remember the vital role of farming in delivering that protection.  Where 70 per cent of the land area is farmed.  That’s why the Campaign for the Farmed Environment is so important.

That’s why the future of agri-environment schemes – covering some two thirds of farms – is important.

That’s why we must be focussed on the outcomes of those schemes to ensure that they are delivering as much bang for buck as possible.

Because reversing biodiversity decline cannot happen without that very important input from the people who actually manage most of our land.

So those are the first two key challenges.

The resources challenge fiscally, and the resources challenge environmentally.

3. An international agenda

But there is a third and last key challenge.  Because when we talk about food security we are actually talking about a global challenge: the need to boost food production on an international scale.

Britain can and should increase production of the food we can grow ourselves.

That helps to improve our own security.

It makes environmental sense ….

It makes sense in supporting our local economy.

But Britain cannot produce its way out of this global problem.

We need to see a global increase in production of a serious scale, if we are to meet the challenge of demand in a very short space of time.

That requires, in my view, a new focus on reducing trade barriers and lowering tariff barriers as a contribution to boosting production.

And that is something we have lost focus on when so much attention has rightly been on Copenhagen and the need to secure an international climate deal.

And it also means looking again at the way we are helping underdeveloped and developing countries boost their agriculture.

I was in Zambia at the end of last year, talking to the Minister of Agriculture about his desire to increase production.  A potentially fertile country which could grow a lot more – adjacent to Zimbabwe which we all know used to be the breadbasket of Africa.

Actually when you look at what has been done in that country in order to try and support the development of their agriculture, it is relatively little.

If the world community is serious about increasing production, then we have to be serious about an international agenda that is going to facilitate that.

About supplying the skills, the knowledge and the co-operation that is going to enable these countries to rise to this challenge.


I want to end by saying this.

We’re moving, it seems to me, to a new era in relation to agricultural policy.

If we had been sitting here twenty years ago, I suspect we would have been talking about food surpluses.

Politicians were.

It was wine lakes and food mountains.

Farming was seen not as the solution, but as a problem.

The despoiler of the environment ….

A cost on the public purse.

The goal was to reduce those costs and minimise the environmental damage.

And there is a danger, of course, that we lost sight of the importance of this primary industry.

This industry which puts food on our tables.

This industry which is essential for life.

There is always a danger in politics of over-reaction.

And it seems to me that the formal policy that said that it didn’t matter where our food came from was wrong.

And the devaluation of our farming industry was wrong.

We need to move forwards not backwards.

But that does mean being serious about an agenda of supporting agriculture.

If you want a 20-year plan and believe in Soviet-style plans, then that’s fine.

But it’s no good just talking about food labelling unless you’re willing to deliver it.

It’s no good just talking about a fair market unless you’re willing to deliver that.

It’s no good just talking about competitiveness unless you’re willing to ensure that farmers really can be competitive and are equipped to be so.

I believe we are entering a new age of agriculture.

And that, actually, there is an enormous amount for us to be optimistic about.

This isn’t an age any longer where farming is seen as a problem.

This isn’t an age where the value of farming can any longer be discounted.

This is an age where everybody is starting to see the importance of food production, of feeding the world.

And so as we enter this new decade, I think we can be optimistic about the future of farming.

Government has a vital role to play to ensure that our farming industry can rise to the very real challenges that it faces, as we move through this period of adjustment.

But I think, collectively, we can look forward to an era where farming is truly valued again.

Thank you very much.