Justice Committee. Effective use of police resources inquiry. Written submission from the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents

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1 Introduction Justice Committee Effective use of police resources inquiry Written submission from the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) welcomes the opportunity to provide written and oral evidence to the Justice Committee to assist with the Inquiry into the Effective Use of Police Resources. ASPS is the Staff Association that represents all officers of superintendent rank from the eight police forces in Scotland. The function of the Association is to consider and take forward matters affecting the welfare of its members and the efficiency of the service. This submission is therefore reflective of the national position and not that of individual Forces. ASPS is aware that ACPOS and the Scottish Police Federation have also been invited to provide written and oral evidence. It is perhaps inevitable that there will be elements of duplication within our responses. Like the Scottish Police Federation, we have previously called for a Commission on the Police Role, Purpose and Function to determine what is expected from us in this dynamic and changing environment. This call has so far fallen on deaf ears. We are optimistic that this Inquiry may indeed be the catalyst to such an exercise. ASPS calls for some clarity in terms of what the clearest vision of the police service is and how that service is liable to be shaped over the medium to longer term. One thing is guaranteed, it is unlikely to stay as it is. Is it likely to lead to more officers visible on the beat?. The letter of invitation from the Justice Committee, dated 17 th September 2007, listed nine questions on which the inquiry will be structured. This submission will be structured on those questions albeit there is a natural overlap or correlation between some of the questions and others that are more appropriately addressed through responses of more relevant organisations. Question 1 How many police officers do police forces need in order to effectively tackle all elements of their work and are the resources provided to the police sufficient to achieve this? The Association has consistently highlighted the dynamic environment facing the Scottish Police Service and the progressive increase in demands, both in those areas of police work that would be deemed traditional, and in those 1

2 additional workstreams that have been created as a consequence of new technologies, legislation, guidance and partnership working. Our clear experience is that colleagues willingly invest significant voluntary effort to solve problems however there is a feeling that we, as a Service, are overselling and therefore sadly under delivering in some areas, especially in the area of Police visibility. The reason is primarily because the demands on Forces have stretched the finite resources that are available until the Service has become a mile wide and an inch thick. The greater additional burden over a period means there are insufficient resources to effectively meet the demands and expectations of all our customers, stakeholder and partners. The change agenda that has introduced additional demands and constraints on the service has predominately bolted these onto existing structures and drawn the necessary resources from existing establishment levels. There has been an increase in the number of specialist posts that demand experienced officers and this has resulted in lengthy training and re-qualifying abstractions. These experienced officers are generally drawn from the operational pool. At the same time the service is dealing with rapidly changing communities - different and increasingly diverse communities that we need to understand, relate to and provide a service for. Internally there has been a significant change in terms of force profiles with an officer gender mix that bears no resemblance to what it was 30 years ago. This aligned to the changes to workforce employment legislation means that organisational change is inevitable. ASPS welcomes and embraces this change however we strongly believe that any resource calculation or proposed increase in resources must factor in the requirements to comply with maternity, paternity and carers leave entitlements and the abstractions that inevitably follow. This is perhaps the time to focus on what the public, stakeholders and politicians consider to be the work of the Police Service and role of the Police Officer in the 21 st century. Without this clarity it is difficult to accurately and meaningfully answer the question presented. Question 2 What is the role and remit of Chief Constables in prioritising resources on different areas of policing? This question is best answered by ACPOS. ASPS are supportive of the tripartite arrangement for governance of the police in Scotland that gives Chief Constables the sole autonomy in regard to the delivery of operational policing services. This is done in conjunction with statutory partners. 2

3 Question 3 Which traditional police functions should always be carried out by police officers and which can be carried out by others? The culture of this service in dealing with the constant climate of change is that, in terms of taking on extra burden, no has generally not been in our vocabulary. Other agencies say no particularly well if no funding is available then no new service is provided. The police culture, rightly or wrongly, can mainly be associated with trying to make things happen and work especially if it benefits the community, whether or not there is funding attached to it. A number of functions have already been transferred to some degree. These include noise pollution, litter control, prison escort services, HR, Forensics, etc. There has been a programme of civilianisation since 1985 and there will be further opportunities to share more responsibility in the areas of support functions/licensing/prevention methods with other stakeholder organisations. However, there has to be a focus on profiling the demands placed on the Service which will, in addition to identifying opportunities to reduce specific demands using a wide range of options that include collaboration, shared services, partnerships, civilianisation, transfer of responsibilities, etc, identify the demand increase of traditional functions, such as murder investigations, where resource levels and costs have increased significantly to ensure that the integrity of the investigation is sound and evidence is not compromised. Question 4 If Chief Constables favour recruiting additional officers, how do they propose to deploy them? Although this question is directed at Chief Constables ASPS would welcome and support the recruitment of additional officers. We seek to highlight the changing demography in Scotland and the new demands that this change brings, particularly the growing Eastern European communities that have located in Scotland following the expanded EU. As a Service we cannot ignore this, it must be factored into the medium to long term vision of the Service if we are to be reflective and representative of our communities and now is the opportunity to act. We already know that there are members of those new ethnic minority groups trying to join the Service in Scotland, ordinarily we have been faced with the opposite situation. Their problem and ours are vetting arrangements, residency restrictions, etc. The profile of the Service has and will continue to change with a growing number of women and officers with family and caring responsibilities. The Association fully supports employment legislation that now allows officers better opportunities to watch and help their children grow up. No-one should feel guilty about doing that and no-one should criticise those who do it. In 3

4 terms of the proposed increase of 1,000 officers, there has to be an acceptance that their deployment will be affected by many factors that include some of the points raised above as well as the raft of recent employment legislation and Working Time Regulations. The difference between the Police Service and other areas of employment is that you cannot resort to an employment agency to find trained police officers to patrol communities. Question 5 How quickly can additional police officers be recruited and trained? This is a matter for ACPOS to respond to, however ASPS feel it pertinent to highlight concerns over stop/go recruitment and the mixed messages that this can cause in the public domain and the impact on operational policing. Members would rather see a commitment to funding over an extended period of time. This would allow for the intake of additional officers to be better managed by the College and Forces and for the impact of recruitment, and its associated costs, such as advertising budgets, availability of internal resources and capacity for training at local and national level to be defrayed on an ongoing basis. Question 6 What role do police authorities or joint police boards (including elected Councillors) play in determining local policing priorities? Police Authorities and Joint Police Boards are at present involved in the preparation of local policing priorities. This is a position ASPS supports and our members have very positive contact with their local elected members on an almost daily basis. Their views are essential in determining local priorities and local service delivery. Question 7 How do policing priorities differ between urban and rural areas? The Scottish Police Service faces challenges across the length and breadth of the country. It is a huge and complex task to deliver services to the many communities both rural and urban. The operational demands for the police service are progressively increasing as the use of technology, in particular the Internet, offers new opportunities for criminal activity that transcend local boundaries creating more diverse demands on the service, drawing resources away from the front line. The profile of demands for policing services varies between communities both within or between rural or urban areas. There are common and unique local problems in both areas and this requires a balanced approach to the deployment of resources that fits and is appropriate to local needs. Commanders need to have flexibility in the deployment of resource if they are 4

5 to effectively address emerging issues and problems wherever they occur rural or urban. Analysis of recorded crime would tell you that, for example, serious and fatal road collisions are more common in rural areas whilst street robberies are more common in urban areas, but this is to be expected. The community impact of a crime in a rural area may be greater, however the standard of service communities receive should not differ in quality because of their postcode. Question 8 How would police boards prefer to see additional resources deployed? This question is directed at police boards, however, chief constables work closely with police boards and relevant partners to determine the deployment of resources. As stated ASPS members work closely with their local elected representatives on a daily basis. These existing communication channels inform and impact on the deployment of resources. Question 9 What is the view of the general public about the priorities for additional police resources more community officers, targeting serious crime or, perhaps, road traffic offences? In every user satisfaction or public perception survey police have carried out the response to the question how can policing in your area be improved the answer is always more police on the beat. ASPS are realistic and receptive to change, and our experience is the public are realistic too. More visible policing has been promised, perhaps the Service is partly to blame as we continue to promise and provide support to communities across the widest range of activities because we are there as a genuine 24 hour service. Often the type of issues that irritate local communities are those which once were regulated by park attendants, bus conductors and other types of public services which have now all but disappeared. We are often the agency of last resort and public expectation is often that we should pick up the pieces (again without any additional resource). What this can leave is a feeling of dissatisfaction with the Police for not dealing with or responding to issues that, from our perspective, do not relate to strategic priorities On the one hand there is the global threat from terrorism and on the other there are local issues, in communities where demands are high due to the effects of deprivation and social isolation. The Scottish Police Service must also deliver locally on national matters, such as immigration and asylum policy, in the very same communities as they endeavour to deliver joined up local services by engaging with local people in the community planning process. The policing environment is extremely complex and demanding and 5

6 it is the same officers who will be tasked with delivering on this complex mix of local requirements who are also called on to deal with the national and international concerns when they arise. Carol Forfar General Secretary, ASPS Secretariat 17 October

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