UK
24/11/2013 04:10 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 05:59 GMT

Local Policing 'Must Be Bedrock' Of Service Says Former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens

Britain's police are "sadly deteriorated", a former Met commissioner has said.

Neighbourhood policing should once again be the bedrock of the service to help restore public confidence, a wide-ranging report will say.

In the Independent Police Commission report, unveiled on Monday, Lord Stevens, will set out a raft of recommendations to transform policing in England and Wales.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Lord Stevens, who introduced neighbourhood policing into the Metropolitan Police almost 10 years ago, said that a community approach was needed to stop the risk of officers "beating a retreat from the beat".

The police today are "sadly deteriorated" in the public's eye, he said, and he acknowledged that fewer crimes are being solved.

The commission believes that government should introduce a Local Policing Commitment, giving every community a guaranteed level of neighbourhood policing.

There should also be guaranteed response times, and every crime should be investigated or an explanation given to victims as to why not.

"This is the level of service that the public has a right to expect," Lord Stevens said, "but that has deteriorated in front of its eyes."

Police are returning to a "discredited" style of policing, reacting to incidents rather than responding to the root causes of crime.

Among the 37 recommendations by Lord Stevens' commission are that the social purpose of the police should be enshrined in law, bringing "much-needed consensus" to what the public expect of the police.

Police forces should not be able to investigate their own officers when they are accused of misconduct or criminal acts, according to the Sunday Telegraph, and the public should also have more influence over policing priorities in their neighbourhoods.

All forces should have the means to enable the electronic submission of case files to courts and prosecutors, a national strategy should be developed for the procurement of IT and non-IT consumables, and savings of up to £60 million by 2016/17 should be made by paying the lowest prices for common equipment.

Lord Stevens, who was commissioned to carry out the report by the Labour party, said the current programme for reform was "confused" and "fragmented".

He said: "With fewer crimes being solved, a return to merely reactive policing that the public do not favour, Plebgate, Hillsborough and the identity crisis of Police and Crime Commissioners, it is no secret that policing in England and Wales faces challenges.

"The police have been subject to a confused programme of reform, in part the result of a lack of a coherent, all-encompassing review of policing."

He added: "In the course of our two-year Independent Commission on the future of policing, we have seen that neighbourhood policing is under threat and that the police are at risk of retreating into a discredited reactive model...

"The commission is clear that neighbourhood policing is the bedrock on which the service must be built."