Open letter to police leaders in England and Wales (accessible)
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Chief Constables of England and Wales
By email only
September 23, 2022
Open letter to police leaders in England and Wales
I am delighted and honored to have been appointed Home Secretary, and look forward to working with all of you in our common effort to make the streets safer and reduce crime. I have enjoyed meeting many of you over the past two weeks, and I look forward to meeting more very soon. I wanted to take this opportunity to outline my top priorities for policing and our crime reduction agenda.
I would first like to reiterate my deepest gratitude for your integral contributions to Operation BRIDGES over the past two weeks. During the period of national mourning, and in the face of an unprecedented security challenge, you have demonstrated to the world the high standard of British policing. On behalf of the nation, thank you.
The past few years have been difficult for policing and I am appalled at the perceived deterioration in public confidence in the police. We have seen too many high profile incidents that have shattered public trust in communities across the UK. Policing culture and norms need to change, especially in London.
It is absolutely vital that trust is restored and to address this we need to have visible and responsive policing. It must respect public priorities and treat victims with the respect they deserve. The public has a right to expect the police to master the basics:
reduce the anti-social behavior and neighborhood crime that can so easily spread through our communities. To put it simply, the public wants to know that an officer will visit them after a crime such as a burglary. They want to feel safe in their cities, towns and villages. It’s not just about doing your daily job well, it’s also about the need for victims to feel supported and not ignored. Unfortunately, one gets the impression that the police have had to spend too much time on symbolic gestures rather than on the fight against criminals. This must change. Diversity and inclusion initiatives should not take precedence over common sense policing.
Reducing crime is a key commitment of the Prime Minister, and I expect police, working with local partners, to reduce homicides, serious violence and neighborhood crime by 20%. I was heartened to learn that overall crime, excluding fraud and misuse of computers, has continued to decline over the past decade, but we need to do more to see further reduction . We also need to see a renewed focus on tackling neighborhood crime and anti-social behavior. Drugs, vehicle theft, vandalism and graffiti are not treated seriously enough. Yes, let’s continue your brilliant work on county borders, but we need to move further and faster on other drug crimes and antisocial behavior.
My time as Attorney General influenced my top priority to achieve justice and high quality outcomes for victims. While I recognize our shared responsibility across the criminal justice system, I am deeply concerned about the current number of cases being investigated and then converted to charges and subsequent prosecutions. I want to investigate how we can improve charge rates which have fallen for many crimes, but no more so than for rape and sexual offenses against women and children. I expect all forces to engage in Operation Soteria pilot learning and strongly encourage all of you to adopt the national model when it becomes available from June 2023 for all forces. Simply put, the system needs to work better together: we need more police referrals and more CPS charges.
I am now talking about the six forces under Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary “Engagement” process. I expect to see you all making the necessary improvements by working constructively with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to bring about positive and lasting change. To do my part, I am committed to ensuring that all forces have the resources and tools necessary to respond to the changing profile of crime. That is why I am firmly committed to providing the additional 20,000 officers promised under the police enhancement program and I expect all chiefs of police and commissioners of police and crime to be on the on track to fully deliver force-level allocations by March 2023 and then maintain officer numbers. We are seeing a growing and strengthening workforce, and to fully support policing, this government has committed to investing hundreds of millions in 2022-23. This funding will provide police officers with the tools they need to meet the technological challenges of the future; this includes £100m over the next three years to tackle fraud.
We must work effectively and transparently as individuals and as a system to reduce crime and improve performance and accountability, supported by reliable and consistent data. An effective system that responds to public expectations sees police officers and crime commissioners drive the priorities of local police departments and act as strong and visible leaders; Police chiefs lead the local operational response; forces working closely with their regional organized crime units, the NCA, wider law enforcement and partner agencies to disrupt organized crime groups whose activities undermine our core British values; and the wider police system pushing the service to operate as efficiently as possible.
At their best, the police services in this country are the best in the world. This must and can be the standard that all forces must meet. You have my full support for this to happen.
Very Hon. Suella Braverman KC MP, Home Secretary
Chairman of the National Council of Chiefs of Police
Chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Chief Constables of the 43 Territorial Forces of England and Wales
Police and Crime Commissioners, Mayors exercising PCC functions and Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation for the 43 territorial forces of England and Wales
Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Constabulary
The President and CEO of the College of Policing
The Director General of the National Crime Agency
The Director General of the Independent Office for Police Conduct