Home Secretary Theresa May's College of Policing Speech - 15/10/14

The Home Secretary has ordered a review into the length of time police can keep suspects on bail. Read her full speech to the College of Policing annual conference here.
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  1 College of Policing speech  Thank you. It is a pleasure to be back at the College of Policing nearly one year on from your inaugural conference. The creation of the College has been an important pillar in my programme of police reform, and I am pleased to see it doing as well as it is.   When I spoke to you last year I set out my vision for the College. I said then that the police are dedicated professionals. That policing requires specialist skills, training and expertise, but incredibly  –  up until now  –  it had not been recognised as a profession. That was a terrible aberration, and the creation of the College would help to put that right. The College would be the professional body for the police. It would lead the way in setting professional standards and seeing that they are upheld. It would make clear the ethical behaviour and personal integrity expected of everyone in policing. It would seek out best practice and develop an evidence base of what works, and it would identify the policing challenges that lie ahead.  2 In short, the College would be the institution spearheading excellence and championing better policing and reform. Independent of the Home Office, it would be owned by the police, for the police, so that you can develop the leadership, training, and knowledge that you need.  And you have made an excellent start. This July you published the new Code of Ethics which sets out clearly the high standards of behaviour expected from all police officers, staff and volunteers. You ran the recruitment and training programmes for both direct entry and the fast-track scheme, ensuring that we can open up the senior ranks of policing and promote talented people quickly. You are providing training and guidance on important and sensitive areas such as child sexual exploitation and domestic violence. You have established Authorised Professional Practice on important policing areas, helping to cut down on excessive guidance, bringing consistency and encouraging the use of professional discretion.  3  And you are building an evidence base of what works so that in future police practice is always based on evidence, and not habit. This includes sensitive areas like police bail. I am pleased that the College is developing evidence based guidance to bring consistency, transparency and rigour to the way in which pre-charge bail is used in criminal investigations. You have consulted on the operational guidance and will publish your findings shortly. But in parallel we must also look at statutory time limits on the use of pre-charge bail to prevent people spending months or even years on bail only for no charges to be brought.  4 I am clear that where the police hold sensitive powers, they must be used appropriately. This also goes to the heart of my reforms to Stop and Search, and I am delighted that all 43 forces have signed up to the Best Use scheme which was launched in August. And it is why we are conducting a review of the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. I am already aware that there have been concerns over the use of RIPA to access journalists’ phone records and that is why we are revising the relevant code to make clear that specific consideration must be given to communications data requests involving those in sensitive professions, such as journalists. This code will be published in draft this autumn and will be subject to a full public consultation so that anyone with concerns can feed in their views. With the support of your frontline champions  –  I know that the College is starting to reach out to all in policing, encouraging those with policing expertise, whatever their position, rank or background, to come together to help make policing as good as I know you all believe it can be.
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