‘Fundamental reform’ needed to solve ‘crisis of confidence in policing’

Sir Michael Barber, who is leading a Strategic Review of Policing, is expected to make the warning in a talk on Tuesday.

21 February 2022

Only “fundamental reform” can reverse the “crisis of confidence in policing”, according to a former Government adviser.

Sir Michael Barber, who is leading a review of policing, is expected to make the warning during a talk on Tuesday.

His comments come just weeks before the Police Foundation publishes the findings of his Strategic Review of Policing, which is set to make more than 50 recommendations for the future of forces in England and Wales.

Billed as the most comprehensive review of policing for a decade, Sir Michael hopes the report will mark a “fundamental turning point in the modernisation of a public service that matters deeply to us all.”

In front of an audience of representatives from police forces, criminal justice bodies and government officials at the Centre for Policy Studies webinar, Sir Michael will say: “There is a clear crisis of confidence in policing in England and Wales.

“This is not just the result of recent high-profile issues but is far more fundamental.

“Huge societal, technological and environmental changes are happening at warp speed yet too often policing seems stuck in the past, hardly fit for the present yet alone the future.”

According to extracts released of his speech, Sir Michael is expected to praise the hard work police officers carry out daily to keep the public safe, despite the system in which they are operating, and say the “challenges for our police are great and growing”.

“The thin blue line is now stretched far too thin.

“It is encouraging that more police are now being recruited but there is a long way to go.

“Too often our police are effectively a social service dealing more with mental health and family breakdown than crime fighting or crime prevention service. We need more police and they need a laser focus on the crime challenges of today,” he will add.

Sir Michael is due to be joined by policing minister Kit Malthouse and Surrey police and crime commissioner Lisa Townsend for the discussion.

Mr Malthouse is expected to say: “We know that crime is changing and that the future will present new challenges to policing.

“I thank Sir Michael for his work and I look forward to looking at this report and the recommendations once released to make sure we take the right action to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Sir Michael served as the chief adviser on delivery during Tony Blair’s second term as prime minister, founded advisory firm Delivery Associates which aims to help governments deliver improved outcomes for their citizens and used to be the chairman of higher education regulator the Office for Students.

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