Commissioner sets out vision at Home Affairs Select Committee Conference

14 January 2013

Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was a keynote speaker today at the Home Affairs Select Committee International Conference on Leadership & Standards in the Police.

Addressing police leaders, MP's and academics the Commissioner called for an 'open, professional, healthy and trusted' relationship with the media, an enhanced partnership with Universities and the potential for future police leaders to join the service from other professions.

On the subject of media contact with the police, the Commissioner said: "Lord Justice Leveson recognised some of the positive steps the Met has taken to tackle some of the issues and perceptions, such as clear rules for gifts and hospitality, business interests and contact with the media." He continued: "To be clear, we want to have a healthy and trusted relationship with journalists. Media can help us detect crimes and to make sure the public are engaged when it comes to fighting crime and holding the police to account. Therefore, my message to my officers is that I want them to have an open and professional relationship with reporters."

The Commissioner welcomed the introduction of the new College of Policing and called for the police service to build and develop from an academic base: "I'm not saying that every police officer should be an academic, but my point is that the police service has not been very well served by not having a body of knowledge that we don't develop. All great professions have faculties in Universities, which builds bodies of knowledge to help the profession develop. Sadly policing has never had that."

"In the Met we're going to do our best to work with the College of Policing to get professors in policing around the country. There will be significant challenges in introducing university faculties, particularly in a time of recession, but I think that this is exactly the time to invest in the future. Our commitment from the Met is that we are prepared to find some money to support it and to invite in Universities to see whether they are prepared to part fund it."

A proposal for lateral entry into the police service - where senior leaders from other professions could become police leaders - was raised by several speakers as an innovative way to bring new talent and skills to the police service. The Commissioner said: "I honestly feel the time has come to support it and implement it. You get benefits from an injection of new people. However, I won't argue that all our future leaders should be from the outside, but I do think something like 10% is highly possible. The reasons why I say that is because it allows us to get new talent in now, I do think we need more younger people and a more diverse workforce. We need to represent the London community. In terms of leadership, it could take 20 years to see that change and I don't think we can wait 20 years."

Commenting on police integrity and public confidence, the Commissioner said: "I know and understand that some people with have concerns around police integrity, no doubt as a result of some of the events from last year; the findings from the Hillsborough independent panel were shocking, phone hacking, racism cases, the ongoing matters into what happened in Downing Street in September, as well as the number of forces across the country who are without Chief Constables."

"I recognise the impact this will have on public confidence. I fully support all the mechanisms there are to hold the police to account; the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and the newly appointed Police and Crime Commissioners. I think we should take some reassurance in that some of the people who have looked at the police service concluded that the integrity is in fact good. That was evident in the Leveson and IPCC inquiries and should not be ignored."

Reflecting on his role, the Commissioner paid tribute to police officers and staff across the UK: "I have said a number of times how proud I am to be appointed Commissioner of the Met and now I am in my second year, that pride is even stronger, fuelled by some of the amazing staff I have the pleasure to lead. There are policing challenges from time to time, so its easy to forget some of the achievements of the police service in London, but also across the country. We must not forget the courage and great service shown every day."

The Commissioner also called for high standards of police training and reflected on the successes of 2012 for the police service including the overall fall in crime, delivering a safe and secure HM Queen's Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games.

To find about more about the conference, visit the Home Affairs Select website.