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Where now for so many unfinished policing issues?

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Yes, policing has seen stability in this parliament – if your idea of stability is to be left constantly questioning what is going to happen and when things are going to get done, writes Ian Weinfass.

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Less than a year after becoming Prime Minister, the politician who had been the longest serving Home Secretary of modern times has called a general election in order to “guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead”.

"Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that,” she proclaimed.

The 2015-2017 Parliament will be the shortest since 1974 – but what certainty has it given to the country’s police officers?

About the only one I can think of is that next to no one expects a pay rise of more than one per cent ever again.

On so many other issues, nothing but questions remain.

Former Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement that police funding will be protected in this parliament now reaches its expiry date in seven weeks.

Will it now be discarded, preserved or, like new chocolate bars, made even smaller while pretending its the same size?

Police funding rises to the top of the political agenda following terror attacks but then always disappears from view faster than an NPCC discussion about compulsory severance. So, will it even get a look-in during the campaign as Brexit, the NHS and education take centre stage?

The waiting game

Around three times as long has now been spent revising the police funding formula to try to remove the errors from it than was spent consulting on its first draft.

“Demographics and demands on policing have dramatically changed in parts of the country and policing in general is completely different” since the formula was last revised – the then-Policing Minister told me in early 2015.

His job has since been expanded to cover the fire service - and taken from him and given to someone else. Yet the wait for fair funding based on the modern world goes on.

I’ve previously drawn a comparison between the failure to negotiate a funding formula from a budget entirely controlled by government (responsibility of T May), and the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. And those will need a higher level of technical knowledge in discussions with 27 other countries (responsibility of T May).

If the latter goes as well as the former, we may as well quit the negotiations before they begin. 

After all there is only a 24-month time limit for Brexit, whereas at this rate the police funding formula consultation will probably be retired after 30 years.

Elsewhere, former Prime Minister David Cameron’s review of protections for firearms officers was ordered in December 2015 after fears that those who used their weapons in order to protect the public would face increasingly face criminal investigations.

He departed a few months later, but we have been told that the review continues.

The recent heated-debates-via-public-statement between the IPCC  and the NPCC, Police Federation and others about post incident procedures may have overshadowed the fact that we are still waiting for clarity from the top on the central issues.

A national armed police force was mooted in 2015, producing uncertainty at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, MOD Police and British Transport Police. While quietly advising that no full-blown merger would take place this parliament, the government said it would continue to work across Whitehall to “integrate infrastructure policing”. What now?

There are many other issues which we simply do not know the likely trajectory of beyond the next couple of weeks (direct entry for chief officers, counter-extremist legislation and potential electoral fraud prosecutions among them).

So yes, policing has seen stability in this parliament – if your idea of stability is to be left constantly questioning what is going to happen and when things are going to get done.

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