Prevention Lead appears on top policing panel
APCC Prevention Lead Festus Akinbusoye appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on policing for the future today, Wednesday 2 November, where he addressed the deeply concerning findings in today’s HMICFRS report and spoke more broadly on issues facing policing and the vital role that commissioners play in setting local priorities.
National Lead for Prevention and Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire, Festus Akinbusoye, appeared alongside Chair of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), Martin Hewitt and College of Policing Chief Executive, Andy Marsh.
The panel were rightly asked about the damning HMRCFRS report released today which highlighted a number of concerning findings around vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service.
Festus said: “Anyone who reads this report will be astounded and I know my Police and Crime Commissioner colleagues are now asking very scrutinous questions of their chief constables following the publication of this report.
“As Police and Crime Commissioners we are investing more money into professional standard departments but will be asking our Chief Constables about what is going on within their forces and we will be holding them to account for the delivery of the recommendations set out in this report.”
The panel were asked more broader questions about the types of challenges facing the police service today and the polices priorities.
Festus continued: “Policing is one of those roles where it’s very difficult to say no. I know of one or two force areas who are now saying no to responding to mental health related calls and anecdotally I have been told these have reduced calls by 70 per cent.
“What I am going to do in Bedfordshire, somewhat controversially, is to start sending bills to local authorities and mental health teams every quarter form next year because it is simply becoming unsustainable. Nor can it be acceptable for an ambulance to be cancelled because a police officer is at the scene.
“This is an area where we need more cross departmental working to address this demand and what I see happening is PCCs and Chief Constables taking more robust action around mental health related incidents and missing children who go missing from care settings. In my view those are some of the areas where we need to see less police involvement.”
Towards the end of the session the panel were asked their views on whether they saw police and crime commissioners as a help or a hinderance.
In response NPCC Chair Martin Hewitt, said: “Having local accountability is something we need to have and we have a system in this country where we are operationally independent to do what we do but quite rightly the public need to be able to hold us to account.
“The previous system didn’t work terribly well, and we are now 10 years in and providing the relationship between the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner are appropriate and good relationships then I think that system can work.”
Andy Marsh, College of Policing Chief Executive, added: “I have worked with three different Police and Crime Commissioners in two police forces, and I have recognised the immense value they have brought. At my previous police force my police and crime commissioner extracted a commitment from me that I would not reduce the number of Police Community Support Officers and she helped me communicate that to other agencies and played a vital role in negotiating with other agencies about how we make the system work better.”
Festus concluded: “As Police and Crime Commissioners we are more of a help now then we were 10 years ago and that is only going to get better.”