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Report 9 of the 16 September 2010 meeting of the Strategic and Operational Policing Committee, with details of the MPS response to the abolition of the policing pledge.

Warning: This is archived material and may be out of date. The Metropolitan Police Authority has been replaced by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC).

See the MOPC website for further information.

The MPS response to the abolition of the policing pledge

Report: 9
Date: 16 September 2010
By: Assistant Commissioner Territorial Operations on behalf of the Commissioner


This report asks that the MPA note the following response in relation to the MPS position on the abolition of the Policing Pledge:

The MPS accepts and endorses the decision by the Home Secretary to remove bureaucracy and abolish the Policing Pledge. The MPS retains an ongoing commitment to developing trust and confidence in policing, along with the provision of excellent customer service.

A. Recommendation

That Members endorse the following response in relation to the MPS position on the abolition of the Policing Pledge.

B. Supporting information

Background of the Policing Pledge

1. The Policing Pledge was created, in large part, as a public promise over the levels of service that the public should expect from police forces across the country. The key promises of the Pledge can be summarised as:

  • A commitment to dedicated, skilled and accessible Safer Neighbourhood teams working alongside communities to solve local problems and reduce crime and ASB
  • Creating a range of techniques to ensure that the public are able to influence the setting of local priorities within their communities
  • A commitment to an excellent standard of care and service for victims and witnesses
  • An undertaking to answer calls for service as quickly and professionally as possible

2. Shortly after launch, forces were notified of an HMIC Inspection schedule and in response to this a series of performance measures were aligned with the individual pledge commitments. The bureaucracy of collecting performance data in respect of each pledge element has created a costly process. Some Pledge elements do not naturally lend themselves to automated, lean data collection (for example, the percentage of SNT time spent working visibly on a neighbourhood).

3. Some elements of the Pledge can drive the organisation towards a culture of achieving the individual measures at the expense of delivering a tailored and high quality service. As an example, merely achieving a publicised promise to schedule public engagement meetings can nevertheless mask poor quality interactions with the public. There can be a danger of hitting the target but missing the point.

4. A corporate public pledge does not allow for policing services to be locally tailored to meet the needs of particular communities. It provides little flexibility for individual boroughs and business groups to prioritise resources, or elements of service delivery, according to the prevailing public demand, professional judgement or risk assessment. Local police commanders must be able to develop solutions in consultation with their local communities

5. The Pledge purports to prioritise behaviours and activities that should drive improvements in public confidence and user satisfaction. However, the actual factors that impact on our success in these areas are not all catered for within the Pledge. As an example, the current Pledge format does not pay attention to the importance of effective problem solving in communities, nor does it acknowledge the importance of reducing levels of crime and disorder to levels of public confidence.

6. The removal of the Policing Pledge can be seen as an opportunity to allow the MPS to re-focus staff and customers on the key objectives and standards that the organisation intends to deliver. A commitment to the people of London that can be tailored to suit the needs of local neighbourhoods and communities, rather than a national generic pledge, will enable the MPS to keep its grip of the excellent progress and improvements made in customer service.


7. The Home Secretary’s announcements on the single public confidence target and the Policing Pledge provides a unique opportunity to refocus both operational activity and performance management products. The delivery of excellence in customer service and public perception, in addition to sustained reductions in crime and anti- social behaviour, can become the focus. The concept of developing public trust and confidence in policing services remains central to the approach of the MPS. The Commissioner has confirmed that he will seek to retain the MPS corporate objectives of confidence, safety and value for money.

8. There is a synergy between public confidence, corporate professional standards based on a customer service ethos and the Commissioner’s 5Ps in ensuring the MPS delivers its policing services in a proper and responsive manner.

9. The Commissioner has made it clear that he feels it important that Londoners have confidence in the Met and receive an excellent service that is tailored to meet their individual needs. This is vitally important as a confident and engaged public will be more likely to be law-abiding, will be support of police activity and are more likely to cooperate with the broader criminal justice systems as witnesses. When the communities of London are confident that they will be supported by their police, they are more likely to collaborate with each other, local agencies or voluntary groups to help reduce crime and anti social behaviour.

Public confidence

10. The MPS is successfully working towards improving trust & confidence. The latest British Crime Survey (BCS) confidence results show that the percentage of people who agree that the Police and local council are dealing with ASB and crime issues that matter in their area rose from 49.3% in the last financial year to 54.7% at the end of the last reporting period (March 2010). The MPS was on course to achieve the 55.4% interim Home Office target by March 2011 which ensured that the MPS was the most successful force in the Most Similar Force comparison. It is important therefore to note that it is the national single target that has been withdrawn, rather than the ongoing measure of performance or the concept of achieving confidence.

11. The current BCS single confidence measure question has raised a number of concerns. At a time of significant economic pressure, local council partners may make funding decisions that could have an adverse impact on public perceptions of their performance. Any measure of policing performance must be able to separate these factors. Responses to the BCS may be influenced by respondent’s personal views of the political makeup of the local authority. Again, this has the effect of skewing feedback on policing performance to a point where inappropriate decisions may be made on the deployment of police resources.

12. The BCS question focuses on public perceptions around ASB and crime. Although vitally important, this does dissuade comment on the wider range of policing responsibilities including policing public events and the quality of response policing.

13. The BCS question is widely believed to be too complicated for many respondents to understand and hence answer accurately. A significant proportion of people return an answer of “don’t know “ or “neither agree or disagree”. Although the BCS will remain it is problematic to judge MPS performance alone through this tool due to the inextricable link to local authorities. Further development of methods of gauging public confidence & satisfaction, alongside and complementing the BCS measures, will be necessary. This will allow the focus to shift to areas that drive public trust and confidence in London.

14. As the national single confidence measure is a product of the BCS, the MPS also conducts a three monthly Public Attitude Survey (PAS) that importantly allows performance to be assessed at a BOCU level. This allows targeted activity and key support for boroughs not so strong in public confidence through, for example, supportive peer reviews.

15. A review of the PAS and User Satisfaction Survey methodology and content can ensure that these important barometers of public perception and experience provide relevant data to drive those aspects of policing that we believe drive public trust and confidence in policing. Options for reducing the net cost to the MPS should be central to this work.

16. The PAS uses a similar methodology to the BCS and also asks some additional questions of the randomly selected respondents. In particular, the PAS asks the question: ‘Taking everything into account how good a job do you think the police in this area are doing?” It is of note that the PAS reports generally show significantly higher levels of confidence when answering police specific questions. This PAS question, together with others, allows the public’s confidence in the MPS to be judged in isolation without any link or political context being made in respect of local authorities.

Proportionality and balance

17. Whilst the MPS remains committed to dedicated, skilled and accessible Safer Neighbourhood teams that work alongside their communities to solve problems and reduce crime and ASB, the delivery of local policing services encompasses the full service of response, investigation and problem orientated partnership across all communities. This was not evident in the Policing Pledge.

18. The development of a range of techniques to ensure that all local people are able to influence the setting of local priorities within their communities - and become involved through active citizenship - is pivotal to demonstrating understanding of the issues that affect local communities and a key component of quality engagement. Individual boroughs also require flexibility to prioritise resources, neighbourhood visibility and aspects of service delivery according to the prevailing public demand, professional judgement or risk assessment.

19. Existing analysis measures that assess performance against the current PIB Policing Pledge scorecard should be revised and re-aligned to methods developed for reviewing MPS customer’s confidence and satisfaction against promised standards of service. This should be done with reference to the draft Confidence and Satisfaction Strategy. Governance of this work should be managed through the MPS Confidence Board.

20. The withdrawal of the Policing Pledge may leave a void in terms of a public message on the standards of service that the MPS undertakes to provide. In addition, MPS staff may require clarity on whether elements of the Pledge will still be delivered. Work has started on developing a series of broad key messages of intent on behalf of the MPS that can be marketed through existing internal and external communications channels. These key messages are being worded to avoid the creation of a further public scorecard and are consistent with the drivers of public confidence and satisfaction improvement, as well as the content of the Marketing the Met campaign.

21. Key messages to the public, together with any overall measure of public perception, may be structured so as to promote activity in relation to the MPS commitment to these operating principles:

  • Visibility of police within our communities and meaningful engagement with all communities to allow the service to understand and act upon local priorities
  • Effective action to reduce levels of crime and ASB using a problem orientated partnership approach and the model of addressing issues from the perspective of the victim, offender, location and time
  • An intolerance of violence
  • The provision of high quality information to the public on local and pan-London policing services, including results of promised activity
  • Excellent service that is tailored to the needs and expectations of the customer, coupled with high levels of professionalism from all staff
  • Effective systems to proportionately manage the risks to people living in, and visiting, London

The key messages to the public are still under consideration at this stage and are subject of an ongoing paper. This area of work will be discussed further and finalised over the next few months.

C. Other organisational and community implications

Equality and Diversity Impact

1. This report seeks to signpost the vital importance of listening to the views of as many different communities as possible in capturing the concerns of a local neighbourhood, as well providing a range of inclusive community engagement opportunities. The MPS is ensuring that the ethos of the Pledge has not been forgotten but is replicated through the MPS Diversity and Equality Strategy 2009 - 2013.

Theme 1 of the Strategy, 'Fair and Responsive Services' has Key Actions which include:

  • Ensure we are delivering services that are accessible and responsive to people's needs
  • Ensure we are treating people fairly and with respect

Monitoring of the Diversity and Equality Strategy is carried out by the MPS Executive Board.

The MPS and the MPA have recently both signed up to the 'MPA and MPS Community Engagement Commitment 2010 -2013 and this commitment will be monitored by:

  • Increased public confidence in the police
  • A wider range of people are taking part in MPA and MPS community engagement.

Consideration of MET Forward

2. The MPS is able to redefine and reassert its policing promises to the public to reflect the qualitative focus of its customer service principles within its corporate priorities and MET Forward: to constantly strive for improved public confidence by demonstrating that we are ‘on their side’; to fight crime and reduce criminality to make our communities safer; and to deliver the best possible value for money by involving people in priority setting and active citizenship.

Financial Implications

3. The MPS remains committed to delivering value for money services to the public within the resources available to it. The increasingly severe financial constraints facing the Service will have to be recognised in developing and delivering agreed Service standards.

Legal Implications

4. There are no direct legal implications arising from this report which is presented for information only.

Environmental Implications

5. There are no environmental implications in the content of the report.

Risk Implications

6. There is a risk that the abolition of the Policing Pledge could lead to a reduction in focus on standards of customer service. The strong lead from the Commissioner, the strategic priorities of improving confidence, safety, and value for money contained within Met Forward, and the current drive of the MPS to a customer service ethos mitigate against this.

Background papers


Contact details

Report author: CI Kevin Hobson, Safer Neighbourhoods and Partnership in London OCU

For information contact:

MPA general: 020 7202 0202
Media enquiries: 020 7202 0217/18

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