Behaviour of a small minority towards ministers at conference deflected attention from crucial issues, says Sir Hugh Orde.
The ACPO President has opened fire on Federation representatives, accusing them of being inexcusably discourteous to government ministers at their annual conference.
In his opening address to the Leading Change in Policing event in Manchester, Sir Hugh Orde said that a few Fed members had behaved badly in Bournemouth – and in doing so they had deflected attention from crucial issues
The Home Secretary’s speech was greeted with silence and she was jeered and heckled while leaving the auditorium in Bournemouth.
But Sir Hugh was convinced that overwhelming majority of officers would continue to give 100 per cent in the face of cuts to budgets and less numbers in their ranks.
He told fellow chief officers: “There are, without question, many colleagues worried about the future of policing and uncertain about their future within it, which we must address.
“But notwithstanding or ignoring the discourteous and inexcusable conduct of a few at (the Fed) conference, whose behaviour simply took the focus away from real concerns, I do not believe the outstanding men and women of this service will step back from protecting the public because that is why we all joined.”
“I recognise that there is no political will on either side to confront this question – but that is for politicians to explain, not me.”
During his speech, Sir Hugh pointed out that policing was “on the cusp of the most significant period of change in its history since Peel” with new governance arrangements and the reshaping of the law enforcement landscape.
He described the arrival of the new National Crime Agency – which will become fully operational next year – and the creation of a new Police Professional Body to assist with career development and best practice – as positive developments.
But Sir Hugh re-iterated the concern of ACPO that the current 44-force model in England and Wales is not best placed meet the needs of policing in the 21st Century.
He told conference delegates: “I recognise that there is no political will on either side to confront this question – but that is for politicians to explain, not me.
“Collaboration is not as efficient as amalgamation – the obvious risks are a patchwork quilt of sub-optimal solutions that do not provide the public with consistency or value for money.
“I have lost count of the number of private companies that tell me we are close to impossible to do business with, or at best extremely complicated – I am also told that several police and crime commissioners, if elected, will campaign on a no privatisation platform so agreement may get more difficult in future.”
While Scotland was pressing ahead with a single command, Sir Hugh said England and Wales was stuck with a model of policing designed in 1962 – before colour television was invented.
“This simply cannot be right,” he added. “By way of reassurance, local policing can be delivered across larger geographic commands – if Scotland can do it, so can we.”