My Lords, the system of policing in this country is almost unique in that there are insufficient police officers to enforce the law by force and weight of numbers, they are predominantly unarmed and, by and large, the public work with them in that they act as the eyes and ears of the police, they co-operate with the police to enforce the law and maintain order, and they provide information and give evidence in judicial proceedings. The police should be “citizens in uniform” who act on behalf of, with the approval of and with the collaboration of the public. Were this not so, our police forces would have to be considerably larger and they would undoubtedly have to be armed.
Unlike other professions, the police’s ability to carry out their primary functions of improving public safety and preventing crime, harm and disorder is dependent on people trusting them. The more the public have trust and confidence in the police, the more likely they are to collaborate with them and therefore the more effective the police will be. For the police, reputation is therefore not simply a matter of professional pride but a matter of effectiveness in that, if there is a lack of trust and confidence in the police, they will be less effective, and that could inevitably result in a downward spiral.
As with many things in this world, that police chiefs want to cover up mistakes and misconduct is understandable but not justifiable. In the case of the police more than any other public body, there is a need for responsible journalism and, I have to say, responsible politics. Political grandstanding and media sensationalism when mistakes occur or misconduct is discovered not only compound the damage to the reputation of the police but make it less safe for all of us, because they unnecessarily undermine public trust and confidence and therefore police effectiveness. We need level-headed debate and objective and factual reporting.
There is evidence that public collaboration with the police is under threat, despite what the opinion polls may say. When I was a police constable in 1977 and we arrived at the scene of a fight, because the combatants were aware of our presence they used to stop what they were doing and we would arrest those whom we wanted to arrest. Nowadays, the combatants are likely to turn on the police. The riots in London and across the country in 2011 showed flagrant disregard for the law, for the maintenance of order and for the authority of the police. Research conducted after that rioting indicated that a lack of respect for the police was a major influence over the conduct of those taking part. While it is still true that trust and confidence in the police at a local level remain higher than for other public bodies, it is of growing concern that an increasing minority of citizens are refusing to accept that authority and refusing to co-operate with the police. So what is going wrong?
Clearly, there has been an erosion of respect in the attitude of some members of the public towards authority generally. Respect towards teachers, bankers, politicians and the police has shown signs of diminution in all cases. Some of the issues that specifically tend to undermine public trust and confidence in the police are what I would call “slow burn”; others are “big bang”. Almost all of them, I suggest, are the result of a less than ideal police culture and the failure of the systems designed to deal with that misconduct.
In the former category, there continue to be ongoing issues around the disproportionate stopping and searching of black and other minority-ethnic people. The propensity is for them to be arrested rather than warned, and to be charged rather than cautioned by the police. This is eroding communities’ willingness to collaborate with the police. The fact that a smaller proportion of black and other minority-ethnic people than of the white population is recruited into the police, that there are even fewer black and minority-ethnic senior police officers and that black and minority-ethnic police officers and police support staff are more likely to face formal misconduct hearings does not help black and other minority-ethnic communities to trust the police. Why has the police service not tackled these race-related issues and why have successive Governments not put pressure on the police service to put its house in order?
To deal with an issue, we have to admit that we have a problem. I believe that the police fear that if they admit that they have a problem with racism they will give their critics a field day, further undermine the morale of front-line officers and allow the unjustified stereotyping of all police officers as being racists. The statistics around stop and search and those other issues in policing that I have just mentioned continue to show that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Why have politicians shied away from the problem? When the police were last accused of institutional racism, following the Macpherson inquiry into the tragic death of Stephen Lawrence and the attempted murder of his friend Duwayne Brooks, front-line officers disengaged from stop and search for fear of being accused of racism. Street robbery increased to such epidemic proportions that the then Prime Minister personally pledged to bring down the number of street robbery offences. Neither police officers nor politicians—or any of us—want to see such an increase in crime again.
I appear to be in the minority who believes that such a situation is not inevitable. I believe, and have believed since the time of the Macpherson inquiry, that these issues, particularly the disproportionate stopping and searching of black and minority-ethnic people, can be dealt with without condemning every police officer and without harming relations—indeed, I believe that it would improve operational effectiveness, and could reverse the continuing damage to police community relations. Of course, black and minority-ethnic people will not join the police if they believe that the police treat them unfairly on the streets.
In the big-bang category we have high-profile and much publicised examples of organisational failure and malpractice. The most alarming perhaps in recent times is what has been discovered by the Hillsborough independent panel. The evidence suggests a cover-up of the kind to which I have already referred—one designed to prevent the damage to the reputation of the police service generally, not just to spare the embarrassment of the senior officers responsible. This appears to be an attempt to protect the reputation of the police ordered by some senior police officers, not misconduct by the rank and file.
For those who wish to think that attitudes have changed, I must disappoint noble Lords. When I was the police commander in Lambeth in 2001 a small riot took place in Brixton. In the subsequent investigation closed circuit television was examined and revealed police officers apparently beating an unarmed man on the ground with their batons. When that was brought to my attention as the police borough commander, I called three people—my immediate boss, the head of the internal investigation and the chair of the local community police consultative group. A group of trusted community leaders convened at the police station, where I showed the CCTV footage and assured them that everything would be done to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Apparently my bosses were apoplectic that I had revealed such malpractice to members of the community. I was told that next time I should not inform the community unless and until we had identified the perpetrators and had brought them to justice—presumably meaning that if we had not identified the individuals we should have kept the public in the dark. This is the understandable but unjustifiable mindset that still exists among some senior police officers, which is unhelpful, unhealthy and self-defeating. Openness at the time is far less damaging and can even be reassuring to the public, rather than attempting to cover up and being found out later. This culture of denial and cover-up, perpetuated and encouraged by some of those at the very top of the police service, inevitably impacts on those in the lower ranks, where there are additional reinforcing pressures.
Again while I was at Brixton, a young police officer told me that he was thinking of resigning from the police service. He said that the culture in the military, from where he had come, was very different. He said that in the military the most senior officer present when mistakes occurred took responsibility and, if necessary, faced a court martial. In the police, his experience was that mistakes were covered up, and if they came to light responsibility was pushed down to the lowest possible rank in order to protect senior officers. My 30 years of experience, albeit in one police force, absolutely chimes with the perceptions of this young police officer.
However, there are other factors at work that encourage cover-up, including the unfair way in which the police complaints system operates. When complaints are investigated, those investigating seem determined to get you for something. When a complaint was made about an incident in which I was involved, during which I scratched my hand, because they could not find anything else on me I was later criticised and formally sanctioned for failing to report an injury on duty.
A series of cases have been brought to my attention since I left the police in 2007, where officers have been open and honest about what took place and feel that they have been punished for their honesty. Their use of what they considered to be reasonable force resulted in them being sacked, while others who falsely denied touching anyone during the same incident escaped justice. I have been presented with evidence of biased and one-sided investigations where investigating officers, convinced of the guilt of individuals, have excluded, and even illegally withheld, evidence that might prove otherwise.
The perceived unfairness of the complaints investigation system is compounded further in the Metropolitan Police by the fact that each and every misconduct hearing, almost without exception, is chaired by the same senior police officer. The judge in these cases is effectively employed by the prosecution. When I sat on such hearings, I would sometimes be told afterwards by the Department for Professional Standards that I had wrongly acquitted a corrupt officer. My fear is that the fact that it has a tame judge might tempt the Department for Professional Standards to give such a briefing before the evidence is heard.
The major issue that needs to be tackled is the culture of blame and cover-up in the police, which must change. In my experience, there will be no change without political pressure from outside. In return there should be responsible debate and reporting of police activity, with as much airtime and column inches in praise of the good work and successes achieved by the overwhelming majority of decent, hard-working police officers as is given to the tiny minority whose conduct falls short of what is required.
We need a system for the investigation of incompetence, mistakes and deliberate malpractice that is both fair and independent and has the confidence of both the public and police officers. We still have the best police service in the world, but we need to bring about radical change if we are to preserve and enhance its hard won reputation. I beg to move.
My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Paddick on securing this debate. I was going to add, “on this critically important and very timely subject”, but of course this debate is really about two critically important and very timely subjects—namely, public trust in the police and its role in effective policing; and the system for investigating complaints into police conduct. Although these are different subjects, they are closely related. It is because public trust in the police is at such a low ebb today that there is so much public concern about how complaints against individual police officers are investigated. As we all know, however, public opinion is notoriously fickle, and we must guard against making fundamental changes to our institutions simply to keep up with it.
I well remember, as a young official in the Home Office many years ago, that it was generally believed by the public—and reflected in the policies of Ministers of both major parties—that the best way of dealing with complaints against police officers was to allow chief constables to deal with them. This was based on the equally firm belief that those who had got themselves into trouble—that is, those who had complaints filed against them—were a tiny minority of police officers: the rotten apples at or near the bottom of the pile. That is why we thought that their elders and betters—those of ACPO rank—could be relied upon to sort them out in one way or another.
However, this belief that most police officers were fundamentally honest and that chief constables were the best people to deal with their own “rotten apples” was undermined towards the end of the last century by both the Scarman inquiry into the Brixton riots and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry in 1999. As a result of what the public learned from these inquiries, they were no longer prepared to trust ordinary police officers to behave properly or to trust chief officers to investigate complaints against their colleagues honestly and fairly. This in turn led to the demand for an independent element in the police complaints procedure; it was in response to this demand that an Independent Police Complaints Commission was established by the Police Reform Act 2002.
However, as I have already said, public opinion is something of a fashion industry. As recently as two years ago, when your Lordships were debating the then Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, the public’s main concern about policing was not how to improve the integrity of officers but how to improve their value for money. As a result, local chief constables were once again given the main responsibility for handling complaints, including appeals, against their officers. The IPCC would now consider only complaints and appeals which were thought to be, or classified as, “serious”. This change was justified as,
“streamlining and removing unnecessary bureaucracy from the system”,
and ensuring that,
“complaints were handled at the lowest appropriate level”.
In other words, this was justified as a way of improving value for money.
Sadly, however, although perhaps not surprisingly, public opinion has changed again in the last year or two. This is because so many of the police officers who have managed to get themselves into trouble in the last few years—or, more accurately, whose inappropriate behaviour has been exposed in the last two years—were not at the bottom of the barrel, but at the very top. The public once again turned against chief constables and decided that they could not, after all, be trusted to deal with complaints against their own officers.
This led to a fresh demand to remove responsibility for complaints from chief constables and move it to the centre: hence the plans to “beef up” the IPCC by transferring to it staff presently employed in the professional standards departments of local forces. Indeed, as recently as Monday of this week, the commission set up by the Labour Party under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, which we will be discussing in this Chamber next Thursday, recommended the creation of a new national body to handle police complaints. Why? It was because, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens:
“The spate of organisational failures and scandals over recent years has badly damaged public confidence in the integrity of the police”.
As I said a few minutes ago, I am very worried about making changes to institutions as fundamental to our society as our police complaints system simply as a response to public opinion polls. If the problem he is concerned to tackle really is, as the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, believes, a loss of public confidence in police integrity, the answer must be to take steps to improve police integrity. The response cannot be to accept the present level of police integrity as a given and try to work round it by transferring responsibility for police complaints away from chief constables to a team of civilians in a national body. This will simply reinforce the public’s loss of confidence in the police. It will also damage the confidence of those chief officers—the vast majority of whom, I hasten to add, are public servants of the highest professional standard and men and women of unimpeachable integrity. It cannot be right to tar them all with the same brush. As a PCC said to me in an e-mail the other day:
“The more external checking the Government advocates, the less it is seen to trust the police to do the right thing in the first place”.
I do not accept that nothing can be done about police integrity, or what some people call police culture, or that, for this reason, we must not let chief constables anywhere near the arrangements for handling police complaints. Police integrity is no doubt in a bad place at the moment but something is being done about it. The Government’s College of Policing has already begun to tackle the issue with determination. I am optimistic about what the college will achieve, particularly if its board is expanded to include a larger number of truly independent individuals whose careers to date have not been linked to the police in any way.
In short, making major changes to the way police complaints are handled is not an appropriate or sensible response to the public’s concerns about police integrity. That is not to say that I am entirely satisfied with the present arrangements for handling police complaints: I most certainly am not. These arrangements were described to me recently by one PCC as, “labyrinthine, slow and bureaucratic”. They are seen by the public as unfair and stacked against them, as my noble friend Lord Paddick said. Even the police are unhappy with them. As another PCC wrote to me last week, “in my force, PSD”—the standards department—
“has almost a terror factor over officers and I don’t think this is healthy. Officers need to feel supported to make difficult decisions rather than afraid to do so”.
There are plenty of reasons for changing the present arrangements, but the changes must deliver a system which is much more user friendly, quicker, more transparent and more responsive to local needs. All this points to keeping the complaints system as local as possible. Policing is primarily a local service whose principal aim is to make people safe in their own communities. The best way of achieving that objective is by retaining responsibility for local policing locally. As noble Lords will know, that is why I argued so forcefully for police and crime commissioners, directly elected by the people and accountable to them.
That is also why I believe that complaints against local officers should be dealt with within the local community. If the local community is not prepared to trust its chief constables to deal with complaints, the answer is not to transfer responsibility to the centre. The way forward is to make the complaints procedure part of the overall governance arrangements of the force and hold the PCC accountable for the way complaints are handled in the same way as the PCC is accountable to the local electorate for the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the force.
There is nothing radical in this. Most complaints can be handled by people without police powers or operational experience. In fact, many are not even complaints but expressions of dissatisfaction which should be used to improve the service. They are easily resolved with common sense, tact and a willingness to apologise. However, under the present rules, they are forced into a legalistic, bureaucratic process which puts officers on edge and complainants into deep despair.
There are several ideas for changing the way that the police complaints procedure works. The APCC—the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners—is working on this and will be coming up with proposals. Winston Churchill is reported to have said, among other things, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. There is clearly a crisis in confidence in the police and, more particularly, in police integrity. Let us not waste this opportunity to improve our system of police complaints, a problem which has bedevilled policing in England and Wales for a very long time.
My Lords, I enter this debate with some trepidation. It is not an area that I normally deal with, but I was fascinated by the first two contributions and I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, on giving the House the opportunity to debate this vital issue. I was interested in the contrast between the two contributions that we have just heard on the cause, the analysis and what the cure should be.
I suspect that there will not be any silver bullet. You cannot improve the complaints system without seeking to change the culture. Anybody who has done any examination of organisations will know that the hardest thing to change in any organisation is the culture. You can change structures and processes, but changing the culture is really difficult. However, we have to address the issue and I would be interested to hear the Minister’s response.
Along with all the other concerns that have been expressed about recent and not so recent cases, perhaps the most recent example was when the Public Administration Select Committee heard evidence from both a serving police officer and an ex-chief inspector. There were revelations concerning the reporting of crimes by the public and the disparity between those figures and the figures that were recorded by the police; for example, in rape cases there appeared to be a 70% discrepancy, and in one London borough there was a disparity of 400 in relation to burglaries from dwellings. I would be interested to hear the Government’s response to that.
Having looked through the Library note and the analysis of the role of the IPCC, I ask: do the Government feel that it is genuinely as independent as it should be? Does it really have the necessary powers to inspire confidence in the public that it is independent and that it can genuinely and thoroughly investigate complaints? As the report pointed out, it cannot call evidence from non-serving officers or those who have retired. That seems a yawning gap in its role. Some would suggest that, given its make-up, the commission is not truly independent.
Like the two previous speakers, I do not want to cast aspersions on the police generally. I work with them locally very well and very satisfactorily, and I think that the majority of them do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job very well indeed. But the question of public trust and confidence is of fundamental importance and cannot be ignored. A number of recent cases, which are not just about police constables but go much further up the hierarchy of command, give the public genuine cause for concern. I look forward to hearing what the Government intend to do in relation to recent revelations, and what changes they think are necessary.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Paddick for enabling the House to consider the question of public trust in the police. Public trust is absolutely vital. A loss of public trust can damage the reputation of any organisation, but because public trust is vital to the functioning of the police, the effects of its loss are much worse.
The problem has become more acute in recent years because of a change in the climate of public opinion. People have become increasingly sceptical about power and authority generally. In a healthy democracy, that is not necessarily a bad thing, but this scepticism can easily tip over into a corrosive cynicism.
Therefore, it has become more important to ensure that public trust in the police is protected and enhanced. This can be done only through the effective, transparent and fair resolution of complaints made against our police. The vast majority of police officers are honest and hard-working, and they should not have to suffer public criticism because of the failure to investigate properly the activities of a badly performing minority.
The system currently used to resolve complaints is through the Independent Police Complaints Commission. However, there are a large number of problems with the IPCC that combine to undermine public confidence. The IPCC generally lacks independence from the police. Most investigations of complaints are carried out by the police themselves, and relatively few are investigated independently by the IPCC. When the IPCC investigates complaints, a large number of these investigations are conducted by former or seconded police officers. The IPCC lacks transparency and does not do enough to ensure trust and confidence in its work.
A major problem for the IPCC is its perceived lack of independence. That is ironic, given that the principles of transparency and independence were central to its creation. Unfortunately, the IPCC has not lived up to those high hopes of independence. It has the power to carry out independent investigations, but in the vast majority of cases it delegates those investigations to the police.
There are presently four categories of investigation. Most fit into the two least serious categories—local investigations and supervised investigations—where all investigation work is done by the police. That is not a problem when it comes to more minor cases, where a complainant agrees to a local review. However, it is a problem when the case is more serious. The third and more serious category of investigation is the managed investigation. This still relies on police to carry out the investigative work. Even when we reach the most serious of the four categories, independent investigation, many people would be surprised to find that, in most cases, it is still former or seconded police officers who carry out the investigations. That lack of independence, even in many of the most serious cases, undermines public confidence.
The IPCC’s own statistical review identified that, in 2011-12, the IPCC upheld more than 1,400 appeals against the outcome of investigations—a huge, 40% increase on the previous year. The IPCC investigates only a tiny proportion of complaints about the police and only a small proportion of even the most serious cases. That becomes absurdly clear when one sees how many complaints are made and how few are investigated independently. In 2011-12, more than 31,000 complaints were made about police officers in England and Wales. Compare that figure with the total number of police officers in post—some 134,000—and the scale of the problem becomes clear.
Of course, not all complaints warrant the attention of the IPCC. It is right that low-level complaints about rude and uncivil behaviour by police officers, for example, should be considered by their supervisors, provided there remains an independent appeals process. However, not enough serious cases are subject to independent investigation. For example, of the 128 deaths in police custody in the five years to 2008-09, only 43—just over a third—were independently investigated. The overall number of referrals—that is, the more serious cases demanding the attention of the IPCC—was 2,165 in 2011-12. However, of those 2,000-plus referrals, the IPCC launched only 126 independent investigations—just one for every 17 cases referred.
To restore public confidence in the independence of the IPCC, we need more independent investigations and fewer police officers working as IPCC investigators. We should remember that it is not just for victims that we need an effective police complaints system. Only by prompt, open and fair investigation will honest police officers be able to continue to police by consent. I look forward to the opportunity to address this issue in more detail as we continue to consider the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for his very courageous speech. I listened with great care and I think we all learnt from it. I should declare an interest as the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which undertook some work on the disproportionate use of stop and search and managed to show that reducing levels of stop and search, in particular its inequitable application, does not in any way lead to increased crime. That is an extraordinarily important empirical finding.
I want to talk about trust. I am not an expert on policing, but I have thought a good deal about trust and trustworthiness in other contexts. It is a constant worry in most areas of public and commercial life that there may be a crisis of trust, that things may have gone radically wrong.
There is very mixed evidence for that claim, because the evidence that people like to cite is that of the opinion polls. In the case of most of those, we do not have a long time series, so it is difficult to compare the past with the present and to draw that conclusion of the declining level of public trust. Where we have longer series—20 years, say—we find that the people who came low in the trust rankings, for example, politicians and journalists came low 20 years ago and those who came high, for example, judges and nurses, came high 20 years ago. Most of the rest of us are in between. That is mixed evidence.
However, I think that this is probably the wrong sort of evidence to focus on. What we are really interested in is trustworthiness rather than trust. To get evidence of trustworthiness is a good deal harder. How does it make a difference if we switch to think about trustworthiness? I start by characterising the received view on these matters as consisting of a claim, an aim and a view about the task that we face. The claim is that the trust has gone down and the aim, it is said, is more trust. The task, therefore—I hear the conclusion coming from all directions—is that we must rebuild trust.
I do not think that that is a sensible position. I do not want just more trust; I want something much better. I want more well placed trust and, if you please, more well placed mistrust. For example, I do not think that it was desirable that all those people placed their trust in the aptly named Mr Madoff, who then made off with their money. That was an example of too much trust placed in the wrong way.
My view is that what we really want is trustworthiness before trust. Our proper question should be: how do we increase trustworthiness? It is not easy, of course. It is much harder to think about trustworthiness than to think about trust, but it is pointless for us to seek better trust in the police unless we think first about what helps and supports the police in being trustworthy, and what helps and supports the police complaints procedures, current or future, to be trustworthy. When we have thought about trustworthiness, that is the time to start thinking about how we might increase the alignment of public trust with trustworthiness.
Two received answers have been popular over the past 20 years as to what one should do. It is thought that we should go for more accountability. Who can be against that? It also thought that we should go for more transparency. Who, it is said, can be against that? I am only selectively for transparency and accountability. Those remedies have, after all, been tried energetically and repeatedly—you could even say, obsessively—for some 20 years, but they do not seem to have worked. Is it sensible to say, “We must try harder. We must do more, we must jump in and have more of the remedy that did not work”?
We need to think about the supposed remedies. The forms of accountability that have been instituted in policing and elsewhere have not always been brilliantly designed. We all know that, sometimes, detailed regulation works by setting targets. Targets have been set in policing and the targets that have been thought appropriate in policing have sometimes, including recently, been subject to change. That suggests to me that we need to think much more carefully about which targets we have and what effects the setting of targets has. In general, the problem with targets is not that they are ineffective but that they are all too effective. Once targets are set, people know what the aim is, and they pursue the targets at the expense of the broader, deeper social aims. That, perhaps, has happened in policing, in which I am not expert, as it has in higher education, which I know a bit about, and certainly in schooling.
We also need to think about what the real aims of policing are. I do not intend to enter into that large debate but I take it that we probably have a considerable measure of consensus there. We need accountability, but we need intelligent accountability and we have had to do without it all too often. What sort of processes would help us to secure more intelligent forms of accountability? Here, we are looking at the thickets that grow up around primary legislation, so I would bring it back to Parliament in part.
Although primary legislation seems odiously detailed when you are looking at a Bill, it nevertheless leaves a great deal that is open. In its wake comes masses of regulation, with codes of practice and guidelines. In another context, I was told by a midwife that the trouble was that it took longer to do the paperwork than to deliver the baby. Something has gone wrong if anywhere in our public life we have forms of regulation that achieve that, where the accountability measures disrupt performance of the primary task. I have heard, as all your Lordships will have heard, complaints again and again that police officers are overwhelmed by that aspect of accountability. We conduct many consultations; we conduct them until the cows come home. Yet seemingly we do not have reliable ways of weeding out dysfunctional, useless and merely burdensome forms of accountability. I am sure that we can do better.
Secondly, I will add a word or two on transparency. Suppose that we had a better set of systems of accountability, which were not dysfunctional but useful to police officers. How then would we link that to systems that would help the public to discriminate and would strengthen the trust placed in trustworthy policing? If trustworthiness is to be matched by public trust, we need to pay attention to how the public are enabled, or not enabled, to place trust in others’ performance. It is often said that transparency will do that. Transparency is about putting more information into the public domain, as we all know, and that creates certain incentives. I believe that this remedy is inadequate. Transparency is surely, in the first instance, a really good remedy for secrecy, including inappropriate secrecy.
However, if we want intelligently placed trust we need more than a reduction in secrecy. Secrecy is after all not the only problem with the procedures of the police, or indeed with IPCC investigations. Trust is given only when the public can judge the honesty, competence and reliability of those in whom they might place their trust. If the processes for investigating complaints that the IPCC or a successor body uses do not enable ordinary people to judge the honesty, competence and reliability of the police, they will not enable ordinary people to put well placed trust in policing. It is that matter of discriminating, well placed trust and, where appropriate, well placed mistrust that surely goes to the heart of it.
My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, both for leading this debate and for his powerful and serious introduction to it. I also look forward to the first of many contributions to the work of this House from the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb.
I am also grateful to our police forces for their major role in establishing a courteous and sensitive society. Like many of my colleagues, I have, for example, accompanied police when they have been sharing news of a tragedy with relatives. I have been consistently impressed by the careful way that they have gone about their task. It is professionalism of the highest order. That reputation does indeed depend on the confidence of the public. I was a vicar in Sheffield at the time of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, and I spent much of the following week taking relatives of the Liverpool fans who had died onto the Hillsborough pitch, working with police officers who were invariably courteous, sensitive and supportive. It is tragic that so much good work has been lost to our collective memory by the subsequent lack of confidence in senior police behaviour at that time.
Similarly, I was the vicar of the south Yorkshire mining community of Wath-upon-Dearne at the time of the 1984 miners’ strike, when relationships between police and the community were at their most fraught. Reputation then was upheld—significantly—only by the story that the police officers guilty of taunting the community were not the local officers whom we knew, but officers imported from Sussex and other places south of the Trent. I still do not know whether that was true, but it was a very convenient story for all sides in that tense situation. Confidence becomes fragile so quickly. In many of our communities, however, trust is still based on personal knowledge of individual police officers. I was grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, for stressing the importance of keeping policing local, including the discussion and inquiries into offences.
In this context, I will not so much talk about the IPCC and its work as welcome warmly the draft code of ethics for the police forces of England and Wales that is currently published for consultation by the College of Policing. It is good to have specific standards of professional behaviour delineated there, for the police to build that confidence based on community relationships. These standards are filled with detail of how that relationship is to be developed, and I welcome the robustness of the sections on honesty and integrity, authority, respect and courtesy, and equality and diversity. Those are at the root of the proper use of authority by a citizen police force that is a part of our society and not set apart from it in order to police it. Police forces are given authority by the public and trusted to use it honestly, and to be aware of the dangers that are inherent in all authority and that come to the surface so easily.
I have two general points about the code on which I would be grateful for comments from the Minister. First, I regret what seems in the code and in our discussions about the IPCC to be a note of persistent negativity. The code seems more concerned with preventing bad policing than promoting the good. Not for one moment do I deny that we need to stop bad policing, and that where it happens we need to make due inquiries about it; but “thou shalt not” goes only so far in creating an effective culture for the way in which we work together.
It would be good to see the code developed so that it points confidently to the part that policing can and I believe does play in building a good society, creating and upholding the Queen’s peace, and positively establishing a foundation of confidence on which our communities will flourish. I have seen good policing doing just that, in personal contacts with those in need, in good relationships with local schools, and in the way in which, where necessary, arrests are carried out. The negativity of the code is understandable because it grew out of a disciplinary code, but positive energy for the common good is even more crucial than the elimination of bad practice.
I would also value a comment from the Minister on those points where the code seems to overemphasise the role of public opinion. In this, I support some of the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill. A key stated criterion in the code is,
“whether their behaviour … is likely to reflect well on themselves and on policing”.
The unintended logic of that could be that an action is good or bad only if someone is watching or if somebody finds out about it. That cannot be the only—or an appropriate—moral imperative. Honesty and integrity exist or do not exist whether or not anyone knows about them. If the culture of respect to which the noble Lord, Lord Young, referred is to be developed among our police, the College of Policing would do well to get on to the front foot in its ethical work so that our police see it as their duty not simply to avoid wrongdoing but to pursue values that will make them still more a force for the common good.
My Lords, 100 years ago last month, my father’s father, Thomas
Jones, was killed in the Senghenydd mining disaster in south Wales, along with 438 other men and boys. It is still the worst industrial accident ever to happen in these islands. It left hundreds of widows and orphans, including my grandmother, Polly, who had seven children, including my father, Percy, who was eight. The mine owners paid out something like £26 in total for all those men and boys. My dad therefore grew up in abject poverty. He and one of his brothers had to share a pair of shoes; one of them would wear them one day to school and the next day the other would wear them. After the First World War, when my father left school, rather than work down the pit that had killed his father, he and a brother walked all the way from Abertridwr in south Wales to London to find work. They slept in Hyde Park on benches until the Salvation Army found them and fed and sheltered them.
My dad found work in London and then moved to Brighton, where he met and married my mother, Christine. She came from a staunch Labour Party family. Her granddad, Will Evans, was the first Socialist—no Labour Party back in the 1890s—councillor on Brighton Council. He was a strong supporter of trade unions. During the Second World War, my dad was a cook with the RAF while my mother painted railway engines. When the war was over, they moved to a new suburb of Brighton, Moulsecoomb, which was part of the Homes Fit for Heroes project. I grew up very happy and secure, with my brother Allan, not realising that we were quite poor and the last in our road to get a fridge, a phone or a TV.
Having known hard times, my parents were big fans of the welfare state. They both knew a Britain where it did not exist. So my upbringing was full of gratitude and awe about free education, free medical help and an understanding that you have to help the most vulnerable in society because how you help the poorest is the mark of civilisation. I will skip over the next 40 years, which involved marriage, two wonderful daughters, some travelling, archaeology and lots of very deep-Green politics, and say that I am astonished to be here, but perhaps not as astonished as others. Considering that I have done nothing but talk abolition since my appointment, I have received a very warm welcome, for which I am very thankful.
On the issue of this debate, I would like to say trust in the police has always ebbed and flowed, but “plebgate” has caused a flurry even among the usual supporters of the police. Even the middle classes are saying, “If the police might do something like this to a government Minister, what chance does a working class youth have on a council estate?”. I have been working on the issue of trust in policing for more than a decade. I published a short report this year that looked at the levels of trust among young Londoners and the Met. I went and talked to young people and listened to them, and I found out what they thought. It was very marked that they did not trust the police. It was also marked that they differentiated between different parts of the police. Local police they accepted and saw as doing a generally good job, but the TSG—the Territorial Support Group—for example, was heartily disliked. Young people talked about “bully vans”, and about how the TSG would come into their streets, cause problems, make messes and then leave the sorting out to the local police.
The worst reaction seemed to be a result of stop and search. Although most young people could actually see a use for it, and felt that it might make them safer sometimes if the police found weapons on others, they disliked the way it was done. Again and again, Met officers managed to mess things up because they did not show professional politeness and did not communicate properly.
My years of Met scrutiny, first on the Metropolitan Police Authority and now on City Hall’s Police and Crime Committee, have led me to the conclusion that the police’s biggest problem is communication. If forces could communicate better, they would hear more useful intelligence from communities, and get more support on the streets and fewer attacks in the press, which would raise morale internally and improve the public’s confidence. For example, recently I complained that the Met was reducing its training of armed officers. Now this really is an area where you would think that you need the maximum amount of training, the highest level; there are already enough incidents and we do not want any more. It was explained to me by the Met that the training had reduced slightly but appeared to be generally better for officers and their skills. But the Met had not bothered explaining the changes to anybody. They had not communicated properly, which wasted my time, their time and actually gave them some unfavourable publicity.
Then there are the undercover police, spying on and sleeping with their targets, particularly in environmental organisations. Remember, these targets are people—women—who are innocent and who have not committed a crime. The officers have intruded in their lives to the most astonishing degree. One of them even fathered a child—and then vanished, of course. The Met seems strangely mixed up about this. In public the Met Commissioner has told me that such activity, sleeping with targets, is never authorised. In court, the Met lawyers claimed that the police who were charged had been authorised. At some level, there is a deep amount of confusion about this. It really does need cleaning up.
Of course, I have taken this seat courtesy of the Green Party, whose members voted for me and whose policies I shall do my best to promote.
My Lords, it is a privilege and a pleasure to congratulate the noble Baroness on behalf of the whole House. It is entirely appropriate that she was introduced on
If Wikipedia is to be believed, the noble Baroness spent 10 years in the Middle East studying carbonised plant remains—we are more lively here—having studied archaeology as a mature student before politics took over. The noble Baroness, to whom I an finding it hard not to refer by her first name, has been a member of the London Assembly since its inception in 2000; was deputy mayor to Ken Livingstone in 2003-04; and I could use my nine minutes listing the positions that she has held, including, as she has mentioned, membership of the Metropolitan Police Authority and, now, deputy chairmanship of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee.
However, the noble Baroness is more intent on doing than on being. I understand that, for instance, she still goes out early on a Monday morning on a tea run for homeless people. That is between things such as working on a food strategy for London, promoting cycling and much more. She tweeted of her appointment:
“I feel very lucky, but the possibility of protocol disasters is high”.
That is as may be, but the probability of her making an impact on the House is high.
I do not normally tell anecdotes, but I will tell one. A long time ago, before the current rules on evidence-taking, I gave a statement to the police after seeing someone behaving suspiciously. I was asked what he looked like and what he wore, and I said, “I couldn’t really see. He was wearing dark clothes”. The statement, as written by a police constable, was: “He was wearing a pale grey sweater with a navy V-neck trim”. I refused to sign it but I am ashamed that I did not take it further. However, I realise that that has coloured the attitude—the trust—that I have. That is one reason why neighbourhood policing is so important, because it is not just about the content of what is done but the impression that is made. Neighbourhood police are the police whom the public meet day to day, whether north or south of the Trent. Little things like that, as well as the big, have an impact, and a small bad experience can leave us with a large loss of trust.
I confess to your Lordships that I am very embarrassed to presume to talk about trust in a debate in which a recent Reith lecturer has made such a contribution. My personal experience has had a particular impact. I think that personal experience has an impact because one applies one’s own judgment and makes one’s own assessment of trustworthiness. There is a different approach to assessing trustworthiness in the case of individuals and of institutions. I was interested in the comment about young people making a distinction between local police and the TSG. When you look at individuals you are more discriminating and nuanced, but of course you often judge the whole institution by a small part.
Of course, these are general comments that apply to public service generally, as did the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Young, about the necessity and difficulty of changing culture. There is a range of obvious reasons why trust in public services and public servants is so important—that is blindingly obvious, and I apologise for my cod philosophy. However, without trust, how can one win the co-operation of the public or, as my noble friend Lord Paddick, has termed it, “collaboration”? That may be right, because it suggests partnership, which is so necessary for effectiveness. I was interested to see the extract from the ESRC’s Policing by Consent, which said that,
“perceptions of legitimacy are stronger predictors of compliance with the law than perceptions of deterrent risk”.
It referred to authorities behaving,
“fairly and respectfully towards those they govern”,
“When the police act according to principles of procedural justice, citizens regard such activity as legitimate; they defer to its authority and recognise and justify the power that it wields”.
Another reason for the importance of public trust is its impact on recruitment. The police, like other services, need to recruit good people and I doubt that anyone is more upset by the bad apples than other officers; in that, I echo my noble friend Lady Doocey. The police service needs to be a service with which people want to be associated. It needs to be seen by young people thinking about it as a career path as a profession of which they would be proud to be a member, and one that would provide job satisfaction. Therefore, like other noble Lords, I welcome the College of Policing, about which we will talk more outside this debate. However, I will say now that leadership and training need to recognise and capitalise on a range of abilities, among which I place emotional intelligence very high.
On recruitment and retention, it is clearly necessary to recruit a mix of people who inspire trust. Some people trust the stereotypical powerful authority figure, but even that figure does not necessary come in the form of a white male. However cohesive our society, having forces comprised of people we recognise—“people who look like us”, as they say—is a component. Progress is being made but the struggle is uphill.
Stop and search has been mentioned. That is not just a matter of numbers or of who is stopped and searched, but the quality of the encounter and how they are treated. Transparency is also a component, as has been said. However, I share the view that it is not a panacea. It is not just a matter of pushing information into the public domain. Indeed, one way of concealing information is to give so much that what matters is not noticed—it is hidden in plain view.
The general public depend very much on the media. My noble friend referred to the media. Indeed, I think he used the term “sensational” in that regard. Social media as well as the more traditional media select and interpret what is published.
The debate has largely been about specific policing mechanisms and arrangements. Some have referred to high-profile events and investigations and their devastating impact on how the police are regarded. In what is still a fairly new policing landscape—as we have learnt to call it—the focus has largely been on police and crime commissioners but I want to mention police and crime panels. We cannot assess the success or otherwise of commissioners without also looking at the panels because they have the specific role of being a check and balance, for which they need powers and resources. They should be able to analyse information and ask questions in holding police and crime commissioners to account. I agree very much with what the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, said about the importance of that. Very shortly, we will consider in detail the mechanisms with which to respond to complaints—mechanisms which must be, as well as be perceived to be, independent, timely, fair and competent—but should we not consider whether a fall in the number of complaints is a good thing, or whether it indicates a lack of trust even in how they are dealt with?
The debate has been about trustworthiness, which I welcome. However, trust is not an entitlement: it has to be earned again and again, day by day and every day.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for securing this extremely timely debate. I want to focus my remarks on one element—the element of trust—although there are two elements in the Motion, as the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, said. I want to talk a little about some of the recent polling in this area. I do so with some trepidation because I am well aware of the wise words of my noble friend Lady O’Neill on the subject of opinion polls and trust, and on how much of the evidence needs to be treated with scepticism. I absolutely agree with her. Her Reith lectures on the subject of trust were published in 2002 by Cambridge University Press in a book entitled A Question of Trust. The noble Baroness has demonstrated the ways in which moral philosophy can inform our public debate in a most important and essential way.
In talking about some of the issues concerning policing and trust, I want to make only a very limited point—one which I think is sustainable—about transitions in public mood. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wasserman, that we need to be careful about these matters as the public mood can be enormously fickle. I draw attention particularly to the Survey of Public Attitudes Towards Conduct in Public Life, which was published in September 2013 by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, often known as the Nolan committee, of which I am the recently appointed chairman. The survey looks at public perceptions of trust in public officeholders, including the police and politicians. There is a general trend in the survey, and in surveys of this type across Europe. Our survey is entirely compatible with the data from the European Social Survey 2002-10. Our survey states that the European survey,
“also indicates that ‘representative institutions’, such as national parliaments, political parties and politicians, tend to be trusted less than ‘implementing institutions’, such as the police or national legal systems in many other European countries”.
We are not alone in this. We are typical. In our survey, judges score particularly highly as to the amount of trust the public is prepared to bestow upon them. The police come next with a level of public acceptance of almost 70%. This is a summary of the results from 2004 to 2012. Cabinet Ministers lurk at around 25% to 26%. Until recently, in our country in this type of polling the police have been running at more than twice the levels of respect or trustworthiness of Cabinet Ministers.
However, looking at more recent polling there is evidence of a worrying change. For example, in a recent YouGov poll, respondents who trust senior police officers have decreased from 72% in 2003 to 49% in 2012, and a quarter of those surveyed by ComRes in 2013 said that the plebgate affair has made them less likely to trust the police. These very high-level indicators do not characterise the surveys carried out by the Nolan committee. Let me give a health warning: I take seriously everything that the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, says about such surveys. However, for what it is worth it does seem possible that, over the past year, a change in the public mood from that high level of acceptance of the police is occurring.
Noble Lords will remember the debate in this House in the early part of this year in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Lytton, with a technical title about looking at police performance management statistics. This most interesting debate, in the Moses Room, looked at gaming in the police service and the gaming of statistics. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, has played a major role in drawing attention to these interesting questions. As an academic, I think it only fair to add that gaming, as the noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill, said, is not confined to the police service, and can also be found, as we both agree, in universities. That debate, although it was an important and serious, attracted little attention. Since then the momentum around this question has been transformed. The Public Administration Select Committee has announced that it is going to hold an inquiry into the management and accuracy of police statistics. It is a major consideration in terms of the public trust. Earlier this month my own committee, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, made a submission on this question to the Public Administration Select Committee, and in the middle of last week the Times front page led with serious questions about how accurate our police statistics have been and about the pressures that existed in the past which have perhaps ensured they are not as accurate as we would hope they would be. So there has been a dramatic change in that one specific area in just a few months.
Taking a more positive view, one interesting thing in the last few weeks is the publication by the College of Policing of its Draft Code of Ethics. I welcome this with all my heart, as I welcome the fact that the Nolan principles, particularly those of honesty, accountability, integrity and leadership, have been put at its heart. In principle, this document from the College of Policing is a good thing. I want to add a few caveats and concerns about the current draft. One is that in the earlier code of conduct for the Police Service of Northern Ireland from 2008, there is a clearer relationship between not living up to the code of conduct and possible issues of misconduct. It is much clearer in the PSNI document than in the College of Policing document. The great danger is that the College of Policing statement of principles just becomes abstract and out there and is not fully operationalised in the conduct of police officers.
There is considerable evidence of good faith and seriousness in the production of the document and greater clarification could make it even better. Another area where one needs greater clarity is on declaring business interests. That needs to be clearer than it currently is in the document.
I hope that the College of Policing document is an indication of a growing understanding among senior police officers in our country and those concerned with the matter that we are at a difficult moment which requires some redress and serious thinking.
My Lords, I add my thanks to those that have already been expressed to the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, for securing this debate. I also congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, on her very-easy-to-listen-to maiden speech, which made it clear that a lack of forthrightness will not be a feature of her contributions in your Lordships’ House.
Among the things that have become clear during the past three and a half years are the reservations felt by the Government about the police. The creation of police and crime commissioners, the setting-up of the Winsor inquiry and some of the provisions on policing in the current Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill are a reflection of the Government’s apparent feeling that the police are no longer one of us. It seems at times that the fact that crime has been falling for a considerable number of years appears to the Government to have happened despite the police rather than, at least in part, because of the contribution of the police.
I have been fortunate enough to take part in the police parliamentary scheme and to have spent some time with the Metropolitan Police and learnt something about the considerable range and depth of police work that they undertake. I also spent some time with officers on immediate response duties and with the traffic police, as well as with police community support officers. You certainly see and begin to appreciate some of the frustrations and aggravations that police officers have to put up with daily and the importance of the ability to keep calm, to keep one’s temper and in potentially very heated or dangerous situations to think rationally and coolly, and act decisively in order to prevent things getting totally out of hand. While there are certainly glaring exceptions to this, I think that, overall, the police do a far from easy job very well indeed.
The very helpful briefing that we have had from the Library provides some firm information on trust in the police. It refers to a recent Ministry of Justice report which analysed data from the 2010-11 Crime Survey for England and Wales and considered long-term trends which suggest that, from the early 1980s until 2001, there was a gradual decline in public ratings of the police but that, more recently, public ratings of the police have improved. On current levels of confidence in the police according to the Ministry of Justice report, approximately three-quarters of the sample agreed that they had confidence in the police in their area, 13% disagreed that this was the case and 15% expressed no opinion. Approximately 85% agreed that the police would treat them with respect if they had contact with them for any reason.
The Library briefing also refers to a report using data from the European Social Survey to compare levels of trust in the police across Europe. An article summarising this report indicated that in the United Kingdom and Ireland residents consistently trusted and legitimised their police and court systems at well above average levels although to a lesser extent than their Scandinavian counterparts.
The Ministry of Justice’s report to which I referred a few moments ago considered levels of trust in the police among different genders, ethnic groups and socioeconomic groups. The analysis undertaken indicated that opinions of the police were more favourable among women than men, among younger and older people compared to those who were middle-aged, among those in full-time employment compared to those who were unemployed and economically inactive, and with relatively little variation by ethnicity.
The results of those two surveys do not suggest that everything is perfect and that nothing needs to be changed or addressed, but nor do they indicate that trust and confidence—or, rather, the lack of them—in our police is quite the cataclysmic issue that has been suggested or implied by some, although not here this afternoon, unless there has been a shift in attitude over the past three years that has not been reflected in serious studies. There are some indications that that might conceivably be the case.
Certainly concerns have been expressed, particularly in the light of some recent events and disclosures, including that the system for dealing with complaints no longer seems adequate. It is regarded by many as taking too long, with remedies that are not clear. The body in charge of pursuing misconduct is not seen as being strong enough, and too often in serious cases the police end up investigating themselves.
As many have already said, trust and confidence are vital, and that is no doubt one reason why suggestions or evidence of any police failure to conduct themselves in a manner justifying such trust and confidence make the headlines. As the noble Lord, Lord Paddick, said, without trust and confidence there will be less likelihood of communities and individuals working collaboratively with the police, providing information, reporting suspicions, coming forward as witnesses and reporting crime. That then affects the ability of the police to address and prevent criminal activity and behaviour and to bring those responsible before the courts.
Some commentators have suggested that levels of trust in the police and in the criminal justice system as a whole have a greater impact on levels of compliance with the law than any perceived deterrent effect of the criminal justice system. Others have argued that perceptions of fairness in the way the police conduct themselves are an important determining factor in the level of trust in the police and, with it, compliance with the law. A further school of thought argues that trust is related to the extent to which the police force is perceived as representative of the society that it serves, which might mean that the lower levels of trust in the police among ethnic-minority groups are, in part, a result of the low representation of ethnic minorities within the police ranks. Indeed, the Metropolitan Black Police Association suggested quite recently that the police force remains “institutionally racist”.
The Government have taken various measures since they came into office, some of which have hardly contributed to increasing confidence and trust. They abolished the target introduced in 2009 under which police forces were expected to achieve an improvement in public confidence, as measured by the British Crime Survey. The policing pledge, which introduced a set of 10 standards for the police, was also abolished. It is interesting to see that, having done that, the Home Secretary has now expressed astonishment that the police do not have a code of ethics and has decided that such a code should be brought into existence.
Issues that will also affect questions of confidence and trust will be the visibility and availability of the police and their success rate in preventing and solving crime. More than 10,000 police officers have been taken off the front line since 2010, with neighbourhood police teams being cut. While the government response to that is, in effect, “So what?”, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers says that the thin blue line is in danger of reaching a tipping point, and that police forces are, in his words, “hanging on”.
After years of falling crime rates, we are now seeing some worrying signs, with increases in the numbers of mugging and shoplifting incidents across the country and violence against the person increasing in 13 police force areas in England and Wales. Evidence indicates that police forces are taking longer to respond to 999 calls, and there has been a reduction in the solving of overall crime in 22 forces, with nearly 14,000 more crimes unsolved in a year than when this Government came to power.
The latest statistics show that the number of rape allegations handed to prosecutors in England and Wales has hit a five-year low, despite a 30% increase in the number of rapes reported to police. There is a similar trend in respect of child sexual abuse cases. Then there is the crime that is rising fast—namely, fraud. This crime, particularly when it occurs online, often goes unreported because people feel embarrassed at having to admit that they have been taken in, and they also have real doubts as to whether the police will be able to catch the perpetrators anyway.
Much of the police work on online fraud and scams is geared to disrupting such activities when they are identified, rather than the all too often likely fruitless task of successfully identifying, building up a robust case against and then apprehending those behind such offences. It is an area of police work that is seriously underresourced, no doubt in part because so many victims do not often hit the headlines amid strident calls for action. As long as there is a continuing failure to provide the resources to get on top of, or even contain the rising rate of fraud-related crime, it will slowly gnaw away at the issue of confidence in the police.
There are a number of issues and factors that influence and determine the level of trust and confidence in the police, and in police officers and staff, the overwhelming majority of whom do a magnificent job that not too many would wish to take on in their place. However, while the quality of police leadership is crucial and now very much under the microscope, Governments, decisions and policies, including change programmes and how they are implemented, also have an impact on morale, which ultimately is reflected in trust and confidence in the police. We await hearing from the Minister whether that is something the Government accept or will seek to deny.
“the police are the people and the people are the police, holds as true today as it did when he first founded the Metropolitan Police all those years ago. I note, too, that while we are not debating it today, there will be a debate next week on the report of the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, on the future of policing. There is a real dialogue on this important issue. I am delighted to see that the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, who is not in his place today, has identified many of the issues on which the Government are already taking action: a code of ethics, a published list of officers dismissed for misconduct, and a more robust and independent complaints regime. However, I feel that the report, in calling for the abolition of police and crime commissioners, has overlooked the contribution they have already made. Despite only being in post for a year, PCCs are already more visible than anonymous police authorities. Seven out of 10 members of the public are aware of PCCs. PCCs are also introducing many different innovations in their areas to address their communities’ problems.
While statistics on public confidence in the police remain resilient, we have reason not to be complacent. I agree with my noble friend Lord Paddick on this and I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Bew, was very perceptive in his analysis. If we reach the point where people may be satisfied that their local officers are honest and fair but the majority begin to assume that the police in general are not to be trusted, it will be too late. It will be far harder to recover from such a position. The noble Baroness, Lady O’Neill of Bengarve, in a remarkable speech, brought a profound wisdom to the relationship between aim and outcome in a critique that had a far wider application than just trust and the police. I value the opportunity of reading her speech on the record, as it was extremely profound.
To address this issue, the Home Secretary announced a number of measures back in February to strengthen police integrity. We have been working with the new College of Policing whose remit is to set and maintain standards for the police and to implement some of these measures. On
It is always interesting to listen to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds. He said that it focused too much on the negative. The college is about good practice, too. Perhaps I may tease the right reverend Prelate and say that those Ten Commandments include a few negative injunctions as well as the positive imperatives. So there is a good precedent for it.
As the noble Lord, Lord Bew, said, the Nolan principles are enshrined within this code of practice. Indeed, Northern Ireland is the source of much of the thinking behind this document. I would like to talk to the noble Lord about the extent to which he feels that the document produced by the college is less clear and self-evident. We want a document that is clear not only to the police but also to the public, in whose name the document is being delivered.
The college cannot address the issues of police confidence and police integrity alone. It is essential that there is public confidence that the most serious and sensitive cases involving the police will be dealt with effectively. As part of her announcement in February the Home Secretary made clear her intention to transfer resources from forces to the Independent Police Complaints Commission so that it is equipped to deal with such cases. I stress that by resources I mean funding. There will not be a transfer of officers to the IPCC but it will receive substantial extra funding—I cannot give details of the funding—so that it will be able to recruit its own independent investigators. The public can then be reassured that we are finally putting an end to the police investigating the police in the most serious cases and that the IPCC is acting with genuine independence. I agree with my noble friend Lady Doocey that this independence is vital to ensuring public confidence in the police. The events of last year proved overwhelmingly the case for a strengthened IPCC, and that is what the Government are determined to deliver. The plans to increase the capacity of the IPCC are on track and it will begin to take on additional cases from next year.
Police and crime commissioners will also play a vital role in ensuring that public trust and confidence in the police are maintained. That is why I think the noble Lord, Lord Stevens, is wrong. PCCs are responsible for setting the police and crime plans for their force areas and, in doing so, they must consult victims of crime. This gives them a vital link to those who have come into direct contact with the police and who will therefore have a view on the integrity and behaviour of officers within their force. PCCs hold their chief officers to account for the totality of policing in their areas. If, as we have said, the public lose trust or confidence in their force, the PCC obviously has a role in holding the chief constable to account for this.
Earlier this week the Crown Prosecution Service announced that it had charged a Metropolitan Police Service officer, PC Keith Wallis, with misconduct in public office in connection with the incident on
Perhaps I may address some of the issues that were raised in the excellent speeches made in this debate. My noble friend Lord Paddick referred to the difficulties of black and ethnic minority recruitment into the police. I think we would all agree that police forces that reflect the communities they serve are crucial to cutting crime in a modern diverse society. While the police force is much more representative than before, there is still much to be done. The Government’s reforms will stimulate progress. We support the aspiration of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to achieve a much better representation of BME officers in the force in the next wave of officer recruitment.
My noble friend also referred to stop and search, which is not a totally unrelated issue. Where stop and search is used properly, it allows the police to tackle serious crime effectively. Where it is used badly, it can cause personal humiliation for the individual, a disconnect between the police and the public and an undermining of public confidence. A number of reports have raised concerns about the use of this power, which is why we have undertaken a consultation on it and are currently analysing the responses to it.
My noble friend Lady Doocey was concerned about the independence of the IPCC. I can understand that concern. That is one of the reasons why it is having funding of its own to recruit its own staff. About 80% of the IPCC staff do not come from a police background. Investigators in the most serious cases overseen by the IPCC can never have worked for the police; they are not allowed to have worked for the police. All IPCC investigators undergo a period of training. As I said, giving the IPCC the resources to recruit its own independent investigators will be a great step forward.
The noble Baroness, Lady Jones, made an amusing, remarkable and moving maiden speech. She asked a number of questions and raised a number of points. In particular, she talked about the deep concerns that have been raised by allegations that undercover police officers were deployed in an attempt to smear the Lawrence family after Stephen Lawrence’s murder and that undercover officers used the identities of deceased children. As the noble Baroness will know, Operation Herne and the review by Mark Ellison will address these issues.
The noble Baroness also suggested that the police needed to be better at communicating. New recruits into police forces must pass both written and oral communications tests and continuing professional development is available for officers throughout their career. The code of ethics currently out for consultation acknowledges the importance of effective communication between police and the public, emphasising the need for the police to talk to people in local communities, break down barriers and ensure that their behaviour and language cannot be interpreted as being oppressive. There is no role for oppressive policing in this country.
My noble friend Lady Hamwee referred to the professionalism that needs to be at the heart of the police and the sensitivity and emotional intelligence needed among the individuals who make up the police force. Her speech reinforced my view that we are in a period of great—and very necessary—change, a view already expressed by my noble friend Lord Wasserman. I believe that that change is justified.
The noble Lord, Lord Rosser, referred to his membership of the Police Service Parliamentary Scheme. We were both, unfortunately, engaged on the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill when it had rather a nice dinner, and we had only a smell of the food. I can only recommend the scheme, which is run by Sir Neil Thorne. It has been a great success. Although I listened to what the noble Lord said, and understand that he is there and I am here, he has reinforced my view of why the Government are treating the reform of the police service as important. Although I can hardly expect him to agree with everything that we are doing, I value the opportunities that we have to debate these issues.
This has been a well argued and interesting debate on a very current issue. We have been fortunate to hear the first of what I expect to be many contributions from the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb. She will be a real asset to the House and I congratulate and welcome her. This is also the first time, I believe, that my noble friend Lord Paddick has led a debate. He brings considerable experience of holding senior rank in our country’s largest force. His presence is a valuable addition to the House and I am grateful to him for bringing this important topic for us to debate today.
Before the noble Lord sits down, I raised the question of the revelations at the recent sitting of the Public Administration Committee about the discrepancy between the figures for incidents reported by the public and the police figures. I did not hear any response from the Minister and would welcome hearing him address that.
I am not in a position to comment directly on those figures but they have been raised in this House before. The noble Earl, Lord Lytton, has raised a number of questions with me and has been in correspondence with me on this. There are indeed differences with police statistics and I agree with the noble Lord that one of the most important things that the Government will need to do is ensure that police statistics on reported crime correspond to the real experience of individuals. Figures can be used to build trust in the police but can also be used in a negative sense. I would like to think that the figures that I quoted were authoritative.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for his contribution and noble Lords for all their contributions to the debate. We have been reminded that public opinion is fickle but it is essential, for police effectiveness, that the public have trust and confidence in the police. The issue of crime figures is a very complex one, to which a degree of common sense needs to be brought to bear. I share the concerns that have been expressed about the independence, transparency and effectiveness of the IPCC. We have also been reminded of the perils of accountability and transparency. I was very grateful for the glimpse of another and positive side to the policing of the Hillsborough tragedy. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, on her maiden speech. She is right about the importance of communication.
We have been reminded that one bad experience has a disproportionate impact on the reputation of the whole police service and should also note that trust and confidence in senior police officers appears to have shown the most marked decline. The code of ethics for the police is clearly a step in the right direction. It is out for consultation so there is time to change it for the better.