The Front Line Review has seen the Home Office engage directly with officers and staff for more than a year.
Yesterday, the Home Office published everything it has heard from the front line, alongside a package of new measures which aims to transform the support given to police officers and police staff.
This includes plans to work with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to embed wellbeing into the culture of policing through inspecting forces.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“Our world-leading police keep us safe in the most challenging of circumstances – so it’s vital we do everything possible to support them in their roles.
“Over the past year, we’ve been speaking to officers and listening to their views around how they can make the service they provide even better.
“As a result, we are taking action to reduce their workloads, ensure their wellbeing and give the front line a stronger voice in decision making.
Minister for Policing and Fire, Nick Hurd, said:
“We wanted to hear directly from the front line of policing, and the messages were clear.
“The need for more people. The call to stop wasting police time. The desire for more of a say in the decisions that affect the front line. The need for more time and support for both training and wellbeing.
“We have listened, and now we are taking action with our partners to make sure police officers, staff and volunteers have the support they need, wherever they serve.
“This is on top of the increased investment to recruit more officers”.
New guidance will also be issued empowering police to push back against responding to inappropriate requests for attendance, often health or welfare related, and where the police have neither the right skills or powers to respond.
According to the Home Office, this measure is designed to make a difference for vulnerable people, giving them the right support from the right agencies, while also freeing up time for the police to focus on tackling crime.
John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, says:
“In my 27 years’ service, this is the first time I can recall the Home Office directly engaging with the front line to seek their views, and I welcome that.
“I admit to being sceptical at first, concerned the Review would side-step the important issues of pay, morale and trying to do more with fewer officers, but I was reassured to hear the police minister acknowledge these views have been captured and will be considered alongside this.
“It is now important that we all work together to ensure these recommendations to prioritise the mental health and wellbeing become a meaningful reality for police officers”.
Other measures in the Front Line Review launch include:
- plans to bring the front line into the decision-making process on future policies and change
- A commitment to look into shift patterns with a view to give officers more time for wellbeing, as well as personal and professional development
- bringing police chiefs and their staff together to find solutions to the front line’s frustrations over internal bureaucracies, including administration and inefficiencies, to free up time.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said that these measures have been ‘informed by the feedback from police officers and staff’.
They also said that the government has worked closely with the College of Policing, National Police Chiefs Council, the Police Federation, HMICFRS, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and others to ‘see how we can learn from these findings’.
The following has been taken directly from the ‘Front Line Review – Recommendation Report’ which is available on Gov.uk:
Summary of key issues
‘The Front Line Review gathered evidence on a wide range of issues impacting the working lives of officers and staff from forces across in England and Wales.
The key themes included wellbeing, professional development, leadership and innovation.
Issues and solutions were explored with an emphasis on individual and organisational resilience, removing unnecessary barriers and creating an environment to succeed.
The message from the front line is clear about the areas and need for changes as well as the complexity of the issues they face daily.
The Review has evidenced a wide range of concerns and issues including:
• a feeling that demand is increasing while capacity is decreasing
• a general feeling that frontline officers and staff feel undervalued by the wider policing system
• a feeling of disconnect between the front line and senior / national decision makers
• a profound scepticism about the ability of the front line to inform change and improvement
• frustrations caused by unnecessary demands on time seen to get in the way of core policing, including:
• internally generated demands on time, such as disproportionate administration, overly bureaucratic processes, ineffective IT and difficulties in sharing best practice and learning
• externally generated demands on time driven by other public agencies relying on the police to provide out of hours cover – for example, mental health and social services-related demands on policing
• scepticism about the authenticity of the emerging wellbeing agenda and desire to see it embedded in a consistent way with a lasting impact
• a feeling that the front line is not afforded sufficient time or space for activities that positively impact on their wellbeing, such as:
• time for decompression
• adequate debriefing
• discussions with colleagues
• training and development
• physical activity
• a feeling that the front line is not afforded sufficient time with line managers for support, personal development and performance reviews
• a feeling that there is a lack of awareness and transparency in the national learning and development offer for the front line
• a view that the current approach to recruiting and developing talent is not fit for purpose with particular criticism of the performance review system and online learning methods.
Home Office Response To Findings
Whilst many of the issues raised by the Review are areas where significant work is already being developed across the landscape, the Review evidences the need to ensure the front line are aware of national work and benefit from the improvements being made.
It also evidences the need to engage the front line in policing change and development more robustly and systematically.
This will require a concerted and determined response from across the Home Office, College of Policing, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and wider policing sector.
All senior policing leaders have been represented on the FLR Steering Group. They have supported the Review throughout the year and have reviewed the ONS findings and recommendations. All members of the Steering Group have signed a public commitment to deliver on the FLR.
Whilst resourcing was not specifically part of the Review, it is important to acknowledge that funding and changing demands are key factors impacting how the front line deliver public outcomes.
A clear message being received from the front line is that there are not enough officers and staff, limiting time and opportunities for proper supervision and important activities such as continuing professional development.
We recognise demand on the police is changing and that is why police funding is increasing by more than £1 billion this year, including council tax and serious violence funding.
The Home Secretary has been clear that police funding is being prioritised at the Spending Review to ensure the police service is equipped to tackle modern crime and modern demands.
However, although many problems and frustrations would be eased with greater capacity, many of the issues raised through the Review cannot be solved by increasing numbers alone.
This is why the evidence captured in the FLR needs to drive further changes, to ensure the policing workforce receive the right level of support and development they need to deliver the best for the public.
We are committed to embedding wellbeing at the heart of policing and freeing up frontline time for core policing activities.
Many of the issues raised in the Review require a longer-term response and co-ordinated activity across the policing sector and wider agencies to make sustained improvements.
The following recommendations are the primary, immediate actions that the Home Office and policing partners will take in response to the Review.
- The Front Line Innovation Project: We will create a space for the front line to directly influence innovation and improvement. Mirroring successful working conducted in other sectors (and working with NHS Horizons in particular) we will ensure a national infrastructure is in place to support the co-creation of solutions with the front line and embed this process into policing.
- Ensuring the operational system achieves the right balance between meeting demands and supporting the individual: A Ministerial challenge to Chiefs to consider essential time for core activities within working patterns that positively impact on frontline wellbeing and support.
- Management of External Demand: A Ministerial commitment to provide good practice guidance to enable policing to manage more effectively cases that should not involve the police; commencing with better guidance on ‘safe and well checks’.
- Management of Internal Demand: A Ministerial challenge to Chiefs to identify and address unnecessary internally generated demand within their forces and with national support to tackle systemic issues from the Home Office and other partners.
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) activity on Police Wellbeing: HMICFRS has committed to review the way that it inspects the extent to which wellbeing is embedded within day to day policing so that inspections reflect the findings from the FLR.
- Providing a National Evaluation Mechanism for Wellbeing Provision: A Ministerial commitment to provide the front line with a direct means to evaluate national and local progress on wellbeing working with police staff associations.
We recognise the FLR touched on all aspects of policing and a longer term co-ordinated approach is needed to ensure the findings are impacting on work and systemic issues across the sector.
We will therefore monitor change and development through a ‘one year on’ FLR stocktake review.
This will provide oversight of progress made across the sector on the above recommendations and the wider findings evidenced in the Review’.
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