Policing in England and Wales

Policing in England and Wales2020-08-20T14:12:56+01:00

Policing Vision report cover

There are currently 43 geographical police forces in England and Wales, including the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.  Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own police forces.  In addition, there are three specialist police forces – the British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police.

Each police force in England and Wales is governed by a Local Policing Body.  For most geographical forces this is the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Home Office is the Government Department responsible for overseeing policing and setting policy.  Details of recent policies, government ministers and consultations can be found HERE

A national website pulls together information with regard to policing, including crime data, performance information and information about the Police and Crime Commissioner and be found HERE

Three external bodies work closely with the police to set standards and scrutinise.   The HMICFRS (Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies and Fire & Rescue Services) is the inspection body with regular annual and thematic inspections.  These can be read by each police force HERE

The College of Policing sets the standards for policing, carries out research into best practice and provides development and training packages.  You can read more about the College of Policing HERE

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) sets the standards for complaints investigation, handles serious complaints against police and oversees the complaints process nationally. Their website can be found HERE

There are a number of national organisations for people working in policing. For Chief Constables and other senior officers, there is the National Police Chief’s Council – click HERE for more information

Police Superintendents and Chief Superintendents have their own national organisation:

The national police federation for all other officers can be viewed here:

Police Staff are generally represented by Unison:

Major issues affecting policing nationally at this time include:

  • The National Policing Vision  – This provides the context for policing until 2025 and has been signed up to as the direction for policing by the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC). https://www.npcc.police.uk/documents/Policing%20Vision.pdf
  • National Police Numbers – In September 2019 the Government announced that they would fund an extra 20,000 Police Officers over the next 3 years.  This would bring total national police officer numbers up to around 143,000 – similar to levels 10 years ago.   Each police force will get a share of the 20,000.  It has been confirmed that Surrey will receive funding for an extra 78 officers in 2020/21.
  • Brexit – plans for leaving the EU will affect policing nationally.  This includes arrangements for internal policing, such as Interpol an intelligence sharing.  There may also be policing implications for roads, ports and the Northern Ireland border.  All police forces have local resilience plans.  All police forces are also required to meet the Strategic Policing Requirement to provide public order and other resources as required.
  • Knife crime and county lines, serious and organised crime – crimes involving knives and possession of offensive weapons is increasing nationally.   This is linked to Serious and Organised Crime gangs.   Also linked is an increase in County Lines.  ‘County Lines’ is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs. These dealers will use dedicated mobile phone lines, known as ‘deal lines’, to take orders from drug users.   The National Crime Agency (NCA) takes a lead nationally on tackling Serious and Organised Crime, working collaboratively with regional units and local police forces.
  • Police workload and changing nature of crime – nationally trends in types of crime have been changing for the last 5 to 10 years.  The most accurate indicator of crime levels nationally is considered to be the Crime Survey of England and Wales which shows a slight decline in crime levels over time.   However, crimes recorded by the police have increased by 44% in England and Wales over the last 4 years.  This is partly due to new types of crimes being added (e.g. stalking and harassment) and partly due to increased confidence in reporting.  This affects police workloads and has been at the same time as reduced police resources.   Certain types of recorded crime have seen greater increases particularly for those involving vulnerable people.  Violence against the person (including domestic violence and stalking and harassment) has more than doubled, sexual offences (including against children) has increased by 71% and robbery by 76%.   Theft offences have increased by less, with burglary seeing a 2% increase and vehicle crime a 32% increase over the last 4 years.   This changing nature of crimes also increases police workload, with more complex investigations and specialist officers being needed.
  • Structures and specialist capabilities  – the evolution of policing capabilities such as Surveillance, Analysis, Cyber, Armed Policing and others has always been a core part of how the service operates. The public expects the police to combat key threats using information and command structures that are wholly unaffected by force boundaries. However, capabilities have often developed in single forces. This has meant that policing has a whole has grown itself in a way that does not maximise the breadth of talent, resources and equipment it has at local, regional and national levels. A national programme has been developed to ensure that police forces can maintain the local frontline presence and response that the public want and need by looking at how to deliver certain capabilities in a more efficient, effective and networked way.  PCCs are involved in this national programme looking at what should be delivered locally and what should be delivered regionally and nationally.   More information can be found here: https://www.npcc.police.uk/NPCCBusinessAreas/ReformandTransformation/Specialistcapabilitiesmain/SpecialistCapabilities.aspx