A notable motif for Theresa May’s tenure as Home Secretary has been her interest in police reform – particularly in measures to increase transparency and accountability within the police. She has run counter to the popular stereotype of how Conservative governments approach police governance, emphasising the need to win public confidence and not taking the easy route to avoid treading on any toes. Her reforms have ranged from reining in stop and search to beefing up the budget and powers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It’s therefore interesting to note that yesterday, in the landslide of pre-Christmas announcements released by the Government, the Home Office opened a consultation on further IPCC reform. The intention is to make changes in this parliament which will allow the organisation to make full use of its new resources, and to establish it as an even more independent body than before.
For example, not only will the head of the organisation be someone who hasn’t spent their career in policing (a rule that applies to the current Commissioners), but the Government is proposing that they should no longer be appointed by the Secretary of State, either.
Added to May’s previous improvements to the IPCC and the complaints process, these seem like encouraging steps to building a more trusted system for scrutinising the police. At this stage in the Government’s life-span, we are getting into the nitty-gritty stage of implementation and practical changes in the way the state works. It isn’t glamorous, necessarily, but it’s interesting and worthwhile nonetheless.