PSA calls for government to 'get back behind policing'
The President of the Police Superintendents’ Association (PSA), Paul Fotheringham, will today outline a series of asks of the government and wider policing system, in response to the ‘uncomfortable and challenging’ backdrop facing policing today.
At the annual conference of the association, taking place from the 11th to 13th September, Chief Superintendent Fotheringham will deliver his presidential address and will state that whilst he believes policing needs ‘fixing’, it must also be celebrated and calls for the government and others to ‘get back behind policing’.
The annual address will be delivered to Chris Philp MP, Minister for Fire and Policing, who will not be attending the conference in person but will instead provide a live virtual input.
Mr Fotheringham will focus on the fantastic work delivered by police officers and staff every day, citing the recent winners of the Police Bravery Awards, the recipients of the PSA President’s Awards which are presented on Tuesday evening, and the superintendents leading critical, complex investigations.
He said: “Whilst we can never underplay the challenges policing faces, let’s recognise and accelerate some of the fantastic work underway, and underpin it with a system that works. The [HMICFRS] State of Policing Report said that ‘policing is not broken beyond repair’. I wholeheartedly agree. It is delivering outstanding work, day in, day out, by the most committed and professional of people.”
He will also set out a number of requests to government, including reinstating the proposed Royal Commission into the criminal justice service which was promised in 2019, and exploring a national community safety commission that mandates public state actors to work together for the benefit of community safety, with clear responsibilities on which they will be measured.
Mr Fotheringham references the decline in neighbourhood policing as a result of austerity cuts and the resulting impact on trust in the police. He will say “The public being able to see and engage with the police will always lead to better, stronger relationships. I fear that because we cannot provide stats and figures to justify this work, it will always be viewed as a ‘nice to have’, rather than what it fundamentally is – a ‘must’ have.”
Mr Fotheringham will outline a number of national decisions that he states have impacted on the effectiveness of policing. He will also question the approach of Home Secretary Suella Braverman who has recently written to chief constables with directives to ‘pursue all reasonable lines of inquiry’ relating to crimes such as burglary and theft, and questioning police involvement in what she describes as politicised matters such as the flying of the progress flag, wearing of badges and officers taking the knee.
On the recent letter sent from the home secretary to chief constables on perceived political actions by police forces, he will say. “What I have actually seen are plenty of examples of effective community engagement and a desire to promote and welcome inclusion in all its forms.”
“The language being used here matters. When the government uses language in this way to position police as political rather than inclusive, are we opening the doors to a rhetoric of discrimination against those most vulnerable in our communities?
As a staff association, we have sought ways where we can make tangible change with regards to valuing difference, and I am hugely proud of our influence. We are staunch supporters of our LGBT+ colleagues and communities. We recently helped fund a national conference for the LGBT+ National Police Network at which I spoke and I stressed “we are with you, we will lean in and we will step up”. We are not afraid to be the allies our colleagues and communities deserve.”
The PSA has led a range of work to support members of the workforce from under-represented groups, such as through the Future Supers Programme, which has supported more than 900 police officers and staff.
He will also ask: “Where are the letters on the core issues being highlighted again and again by the people with the best possible information on policing today?”
Other speakers at the conference include Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Mark Rowley QPM, Chair of the NPCC, Gavin Stephens QPM, College of Policing Chief Executive, Andy Marsh QPM, Chair of the College of Policing and Lee Freeman, His Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary.
You can follow the discussion on Twitter at @policesupers using #supersconference and watch live streamed presentations via www.policesupers.com. Presentations will also be uploaded to the PSA’s YouTube channel after the event.