The government marked a major milestone in its police reform agenda on 31 January as the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 will enhance the democratic accountability of police forces and fire and rescue services, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency services through closer collaboration, and build public confidence in policing. It will strengthen the protections for persons under investigation by, or who come into contact with, the police; ensure that the police and other law enforcement agencies have the powers they need to prevent, detect and investigate crime; and further safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “This act is another major milestone in our far-reaching police reforms over recent years. The measures in the act give greater protections for the vulnerable, ensure the police have the necessary powers to keep our communities safe, and overhaul the police complaints and disciplinary systems to increase accountability and improve police integrity. We have also sought to ensure forces have the right people and skills to cope with the changing nature of crime, improve efficiency and effectiveness of our emergency services through greater collaboration and end the injustice of individuals spending extended periods on pre-charge bail.
“I look forward to continuing to work with the police and stakeholders as the measures in the act are implemented.”
The act will place a new duty on police, fire and rescue and emergency ambulance services to collaborate where it is in the interests of their efficiency or effectiveness and enable police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to take on responsibility for the governance of fire and rescue services, where a local case is made.
Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, said, “Police reform is working and crimes traditionally measured by the survey have fallen by a third since 2010 to a record low. I am delighted this act has now received Royal Assent and, in close collaboration with police and fire stakeholders, we will work hard to implement the act’s provisions to further improve the effectiveness and accountability of our emergency services.”