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Police facing 'perfect storm' of cuts, reforms and threats, says Yvette Cooper

PUBLISHED December 6, 2011

Shadow home secretary launches commission on future of policing and claims morale among officers is at 'rock bottom'

British police face a "perfect storm" of cuts in staff, "chaotic" reforms and evolving threats to the public, the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, is to warn.

Launching an independent commission on the future of policing, she will say that morale among officers is also at "rock bottom".

The inquiry is to be led by the former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Stevens and comes after the government rebuffed Labour calls for a royal commission into policing.

"Each and every one of us rely on the police ? to maintain law and order, to sustain respect for the rule of law, to prevent crime, bring criminals to justice, to keep us safe and to give us confidence in our security," Cooper will say on Tuesday.

"Yet policing in Britain now faces a perfect storm. There are new challenges and growing demands on the police ? from cybercrime to international terror, from riots and public order to honour killings.

"And the police like other public services need to continually reform and adapt to keep up with new challenges and growing public expectations.

"Yet at the same time police forces are having to cope with 20% cuts and the loss of 16,000 officers.

"Chaotic and confused reforms ? including things like the muddled abolition of the National Policing Improvement Agency ? are creating uncertainty and even greater fragmentation.

"And most seriously of all, morale in the police is now at rock bottom, made worse by ministers' rush to blame the police whenever things go wrong."

Cooper will say that the summer riots, the phone-hacking scandal and signs that crime has stopped falling showed that it was time for "a new vision" for policing.

"Six months ago I called on the government to set up a royal commission or overarching review. They have not done so.

"Instead we have had only a fragmented programme of contradictory reforms driven by cuts, shaped by too narrow a view of both of the role of policing and of the role of government in tackling crime."

The review will look at what is expected of the police, their role in society and how to best equip them to cut crime and increase public confidence.

It will also look at how they are held to account, the bureaucracy that affects their work and the need to strike the right balance between the need for the police service to meet both local and national priorities.

The management of resources and the efficiencies to be found to get the most out of police spending will also be considered.

But the policing minister Nick Herbert has said Labour's decision to set up an inquiry is "an abdication of any kind of political leadership".

He added it was wrong for Labour to be "subcontracting decisions on police reform ? reform which they espoused in government and are now opportunistically opposing ? to a committee".

Stevens said the commission would carry out a wide-ranging review.

"We are going to look at the role of the police, we are going to look at how it is going to be delivered, what they deliver in terms of the workforce," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We are going to look at the criminal justice system, see how that relationship is, we are going to look at how the police are held to account.

"We are going to look at national, local, international priorities and structures. And above all we have got to accept the fact that there is not going to be any more money and there is going to be a reduction in money." © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds