Neighbourhood policing cuts represent “legitimate national security issue”

Simon Kempton speaking at the Police Federation's Annual Conference

Simon Kempton speaking at the Police Federation’s Annual Conference

Cuts to neighbourhood policing are a “legitimate national security issue” and must be reversed. That’s is the view of Simon Kempton, lead for operational policing at the Police Federation of England and Wales. Speaking at the Federation’s Annual Conference held in Birmingham, Kempton said that neighbourhood policing is vital in tackling terrorism, but that cuts and the use of safer neighbourhood officers to back-fill colleagues on response “undermined” the work being done on the ground.

“I believe that cuts to policing, which have undoubtedly decimated neighbourhood policing across our country, have not just impacted on our ability to tackle terrorism, but have fundamentally undermined those efforts,” urged Kempton. “I believe that we’re at the stage where cuts to neighbourhood policing, and policing more generally, are a legitimate national security issue and one which this Government must reverse.”

The session questioned whether the reduction in neighbourhood policing has impacted on how police tackle extremism. Kempton was joined on the panel by Amanda Morris, community liaison officer at the Muslim Council of Britain, and chief constable Simon Cole, lead for local policing at the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

“We know from our own experience that neighbourhood policing builds trust,” added Kempton. “Trust in what we do and trust in why we do it. We know that where there are strong community links between those we serve and our neighbourhood policing teams, we’re far more likely to be able to work together to solve those community issues, rather than the police simply constantly reacting to problems and putting a plaster on them.”

Community policing affected

Cole agreed that community policing had been affected. He highlighted that, due to the reduced number of officers since 2007, there are now more than 33 million fewer deployable police officer hours per year. This is despite evidence showing that those concerned about someone turning to extremism tend to look towards the police for help, or alternatively friends and relatives.

“Research shows that people concerned about a loved one being drawn into terrorism are most likely to want to speak to a community-based police officer,” explained Cole. “That local presence is necessary.”

Amanda Morris argued that the ‘Prevent’ agenda isn’t working and that building relationships with communities is key. “The best thing that can be done is to engage with local communities, especially so the youth,” said Morris. “A lot of Muslim organisations run schools and groups for children, so having officers go in to those schools to engage without a counter-terror focus and just talk to children about their work and build bridges would be beneficial.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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