Today we have launched the new Liberal Democrats policing paper: Trusted, professional and effective: British policing at its best.
It is my pleasure to be launching this paper, based upon which a conference motion will be debated by Liberal Democrat Conference in Spring 2012. Along side my Co-Chair Baroness Hamwee and the rest of the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Justice and Equalities Committee we are constantly working to define Liberal Democrat Policy outside the Coalition.
Public confidence in the police has been shaken in recent times: by the riots, by phone hacking, and by the increasing state intrusion into our lives that the police are responsible for enforcing.
It is my own belief that we have fantastic police officers who are dedicated, able and trying to do their best by the community they serve. Yet as an organisation, the police are suffering from a lack of public confidence and trust, especially in more marginalised communities.
It is essential that we restore public confidence and address the sense that the public feels both over-policed and under-protected. It is no surprise that many of the criticisms of the police relate to a perceived lack of fairness in the way people have been treated. Labour’s legislative assault on civil liberties has been disastrous for the reputation of the police who had to enforce it.
Through the Protection of Freedoms Bill, the Coalition Government has begun to roll this back and Liberal Democrats are pressing for additional measures that go even further in protecting people’s individual freedoms and civil liberties, including more protection for the right to protest and the right to free speech.
Policing by consent is at the heart of our approach to policing and that essential principle rests on the pillars of fairness, legitimacy and trust. As the saying goes, trust is easy to lose but hard to regain. That is why I have used this paper to set out the action needed to address public concerns and to build on the best of British policing to ensure we have a police service that is more trusted, more professional and more effective.
This paper makes three key proposals that will change the culture of the police for the better:
- More trusted: listening to local people and making policing much more responsive to communities’ priorities.
- More professional: setting up a new police professional body with a key responsibility to recommend detailed national minimum recruitment standards for the police.
- More effective: making evidence-based policing the defining feature of 21st century policing by establishing the world’s first Institute for Policing Excellence.
It is my hope that this paper and the policies contained within it will build on the good work being done by Liberal Democrat Ministers within the coalition and craft a uniquely liberal, pragmatic and democratic approach to policing in the future.
You can read the policing paper here.
* Tom Brake is Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, and Deputy Leader of the House of Commons