Calculated risk – the future of policing in England and Wales

1 November 2013, Blog

I was lucky enough to join the great and the good of the policing world this week for the launch of Tim Brain’s latest seminal work on the future of policing in England and Wales (not to mention getting a signed copy!)

The book takes a forensic look at the major reforms to policing through the Scarman years, the Blair years and most recently the new political accountability introduced by the Coalition Government in the form of Police and Crime Commissioners.

In a robust grilling from David Walker, contributing editor at The Guardian, Dr Brain explained the deliberate and calculated risk the Government has taken in shaking up the structure of the police service – particularly in the senior ranks. Mr Walker indeed posed the question that the book could be read as a series of success stories for the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who has reshaped the whole police service relatively unhindered.

Dr Brain explained that the recent reforms, untried and untested, made for an uncertain future for British policing. In fact, he believes, this uncertainty is a calculated risk taken by the Government against the backdrop of a police service under increasing scrutiny following existing (i.e. plebgate) and historical (i.e. Hillsborough) scandals.

The event, taking place the same week that the IPCC, several chief constables and the Police Federation had all been hauled before the Home Affairs Select Committee, felt timely to say the least. I think Dr Brain would himself acknowledge that he would have been able to add another chapter to his book with the past week’s events alone.

I think it is fair to say that he left those of us in attendance in little doubt that the tempestuous relationship between the Government, police and media is set to continue for some time. Roll on volume III I say.

James Hargrave joined JBP in October 2012 and worked across a range of clients providing political analysis and communications strategies.

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