It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the APCC and NPCC Partnership Summit.
Let me just start by saying a thank you.
Thank you to all of you Police and Crime Commissioners, friends who could not make it today, for all the work that you do.
Some of you may know that before I came into politics, I was in business.
I travelled the world. I visited many countries on the continent.
Policing people would very often say – and perfectly understandably – you, people in Britain, we have the best police in the world.
They say that because we do have the best police in the world. And that is recognised by everyone.
And that starts with leadership – that means you, so thank you for what you do and how you do it.
You will always have my admiration and my support for what you do.
Now, one thing I can say about becoming Home Secretary, is that it is indeed a very sharp learning curve.
When I took up the job, I thought policing was an area that I knew a little bit about, something I would understand quite quickly.
But one thing that I realised is that it’s an area of course that every Home Secretary takes very seriously.
And that’s because public safety is the number one priority of the government, and the public need to be able to rely on a resilient and effective police service.
But what I’ve learnt since taking on the job, is that crime is changing faster than we could ever have anticipated.
As crime changes, so do the demands on police.
Previously under-reported crimes such as sexual abuse, domestic abuse, modern slavery – these are being reported to the police more than ever before.
In the last 5 years, we have seen the number of recorded child sexual offences, for example, increase by more than 200%.
It was when I visited the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation Online Protection Command, that the full horror of the scale of child sexual abuse was really brought home to me.
The National Crime Agency estimates there are some 80,000 people in the UK at present that are committing some kind of sexual threat to children online.
And the NCA also believes this is a conservative estimate.
I know that investigating these types of crimes – it doesn’t just take a lot of resources, they are not just complex – but it can also be a very harrowing experience for officers that are involved.
Then of course there’s other forms of online crime.
You’re now more likely to be the victim of crime online than offline.
I welcome, for example, the work of the Police and Crime Commissioners from Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria, who have been working together to help prevent the elderly and vulnerable from becoming victims of online crime.
There’s of course also been a worrying and unacceptable recent rise in serious violent crime and it’s something that the government is determined to work with you to crack down on.
Then there’s of course the risk from terrorism which has also escalated and evolved, with the threat level to the UK from international terrorism currently being set as ‘severe’.
We know also that the police are being asked to respond to hostile state activity, and of course top of my mind is the deadly nerve agent attack that took place earlier this year.
The police response of course was exemplary, but it wasn’t without risk.
How can we forget what happened to Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey for instance?
So what is clear is that the challenges that the police are facing have changed and are continuing to change.
Yet, when crime changes, we do expect our forces to adapt, while also covering everything else that they usually cover – the burglaries and murders, all the things people also care very much about, as well as dealing with these increases in these more complex crimes.
So today I want to talk to you about what more you can perhaps do – as leaders in policing – to tackle modern day crime and to respond to the changing crime landscape.
As well as to talk about what we – the Home Office, and more broadly in government – can do to support you.
First of all, I know that you are feeling stretched.
I recognise that demand has risen and that you’re grappling with your budgets.
And I want to do something about it.
While resources are not the whole answer, they are of course a vital part of it.
That’s why we’re now investing over £1 billion more in policing than we did three years ago, including money raised through council tax.
You will have also been pleased to hear from the Chancellor on a couple of issues this Monday.
First is the increase in funding for counter-terrorism policing for 2019-20, an increase of £160 million.
But also a commitment from the Chancellor that he and I will be working together to ensure that the police have the resources that they need for 2019/20 in time for the police settlement which is due in December.
The Chancellor has also promised that, for example, mental health services will receive an additional £2 billion a year.
I hope that this money will also make a big difference to police forces.
Because I know that all too often, you’ve been asked to step in and deal with mental health issues, mental health crises when in fact, of course, we should be looking to the NHS.
And I’ve also been very clear – I’ve just talked about 2019-20 but I want to look further – and I’ve been very clear since I’ve been Home Secretary, that when it comes to the Spending Review next year, my priority will be policing.
But if we are to make the case for more funding, then this does have to go hand-in-hand with further reforms and to look and see what more we can do together to improve policing.
Because we all know, and I said a moment ago, that money is not the only issue, it’s not all about resources.
That’s why I’m also making sure, for example, that police have the right powers.
One of these powers, for instance, is Stop and Search.
I want officers to feel confident, I want them to feel trusted and supported when they are using Stop and Search, and I will be looking at ways to reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency in the use of this power.
I’m also committed to making sure that police get the right protection.
That’s why this government supported a new law which doubles the maximum prison sentence for assaults against emergency workers from six to 12 months.
This Act comes into effect next month.
Finally, I’m supporting plans to improve wellbeing across all levels in the police.
We’ve already pledged £7.5m for a new national police welfare service.
And I was pleased to announce at the Police Superintendents’ Conference that £400,000 of this money will fund the proposal by Chief Constable Andy Rhodes and the College of Policing to get wellbeing buses outside local police stations.
These will offer information and support to anyone that needs it.
But all of this is just a snapshot of some of the work I’m doing at the Home Office alongside your teams, to try and help in different ways.
But I want to turn now to what I think you can do to improve policing and what my vision for policing is looking ahead.
Because we all know that not all forces are where they need to be.
Some could be more effective.
The most recent inspectorate report on effectiveness for instance, judged that a significant minority of local forces were struggling to manage demand and were unable to give the public the service that they were expecting.
In some cases, they said there are changes taking place, but they are too slow, especially when they are compared with other forces who seem to make same changes at a much faster rate.
They said standards are inconsistent.
That innovation hadn’t spread widely enough.
Some forces are far behind where they need to be in seizing the opportunities in terms of how they use data and how they work in the digital age.
These problems cannot all be blamed on funding levels.
The inspectorate is clear that there is considerable scope for improvement in how police leadership anticipates and manages demand.
As leaders in policing, as the experts, I look to you and look at how you can take a long hard look at what your forces need and are you asking the right questions to make them more effective.
And today I thought I’d share with you four areas that as leaders I think you could be focusing on – perhaps a little more in some cases – to make your forces even more effective than they already are.
Firstly, more needs to be done to increase the capacity for police.
Extra investment will help, of course – and I’m pleased that some of you have started recruiting again.
Capability gaps need to be plugged.
Where we can help we will.
For example, when the inspectorate highlighted national gaps in detectives and relevant cyber expertise within forces, we responded by funding Police Now to develop a new national detective programme.
We’ve also committed £50 million over the next year to boost cyber capabilities within law enforcement.
But as PCCs and Chiefs, you also have a very important part to play.
That’s why I welcome the inclusion of Force Management Statements.
Let’s use these to be smarter in anticipating and managing demand.
We need to make sure that most of our officers spend most of their time on core policing and providing a better service to the public.
The best forces are already doing just that.
Secondly, there needs to be more support for frontline officers.
That’s a message you’ve been telling me loud and clear – and I’m listening.
We know that the most important assets in our police system are human, and that for our police to be productive and as effective as they should be, officers need to be fully engaged and they need to feel very positive about their work.
That’s why I’m supporting a range of measures – some of which I described earlier – to support officer physical and mental health and wellbeing.
We’ve also launched our Frontline Review to hear what frontline officers and staff really think.
I’m really pleased with the level of engagement so far.
But the work on this doesn’t start and end with the government.
In fact, you are instrumental in ensuring your teams have their say on what matters to them.
You can also help to make sure your staff have access to the best training opportunities, and that your forces are supportive environments.
I know that many Chief Constables are doing just that, providing excellent support to frontline officers.
For example, Chief Constable Kier Pritchard in Wiltshire made sure that officers affected by the Salisbury incident received the support they needed.
He also encouraged staff to come forward by being open and vocal about the trauma support he had received himself during this difficult time.
You also have the power to build forces which better reflect the communities they serve by increasing diversity.
Forces including Bedfordshire, West Midlands and Greater Manchester have already been leading the way.
Thirdly, we need to build a smarter and better police system which is more collaborative, more innovative, more tech-savvy and less fragmented.
We have 43 different forces and all too often it can feel like each has a different way of working and that there is sometimes a lack of join-up.
Together, we can change this.
The College of Policing is critical in building better standards of collaboration.
Collaboration is important to make smart use of better resources.
So I’m pleased to see we have two Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners in Essex and Staffordshire, and more to follow, who are well placed to drive even greater collaboration between police and fire.
We also have joint dog units and shared major crime and road policing teams.
And furthermore, tomorrow we’ll be publishing our new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy which promotes collaboration between Regional Organised Crime Units, the National Crime Agency and local forces.
All of this is the sort of work that I would like to see more of and I will be working with you all on in the coming months.
Finally and most importantly, I think there needs to be more of an emphasis on crime prevention.
You’ve told us that the police system is becoming too reactive and not prioritising prevention as much as you would like to see.
The 2017 inspectorate report stated that too many forces did not see crime prevention as a priority and some did not have a plan.
We should remind ourselves of Sir Robert Peel’s words back in 1829 about the objectives of policing.
He said “it should be understood at the outset that the object to be obtained is the prevention of crime”.
His words, of course, are still very relevant today.
I’m pleased to say there has already been some fantastic collaborative work on prevention.
For example, we all worked together – the government, police, industry, civil society groups and other partners - to develop a comprehensive action plan to prevent moped crime here in the capital.
Thanks to this, moped crime is down by a half since its peak in July 2017.
You’ll now be using the same methods to tackle vehicle crime all over the country.
Prevention is also a part of our approach to tackling serious violent crime.
And I encourage you as leaders to work with us to get our police system prioritising crime prevention wherever you can.
I’ve spoken quite a bit about the important role that I think you can play in future policing.
I truly believe that good leadership can make a real difference.
People voted for you in elections and they supported your careers all the way to the top.
Now I want you to press on with making the changes needed to make our police system more effective.
This government will help and support you all the way.
I believe everything I’ve said today is consistent with your vision 2025.
We need a fresh look at resources.
We need more proactive crime prevention.
We need to more police capacity.
We need to better support frontline officers.
You have my full support and you always will.