Chief constables need to present their views about the challenges facing the Police Service more vocally â€“ is has been claimed â€“ after they were accused of being â€œless ready to speak out publiclyâ€.
Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton told colleagues at the ACPO Leading Change in Policing conference that there were â€œproper and improperâ€ reasons why chiefs had become quieter in recent years.
The improper reason was that former policing minister Nick Herbert (pictured) had publicly criticised chiefs for being â€œtoo vocalâ€ over the cuts back in 2011. This had led to them becoming more cautious.
The proper reason was that police and crime commissioners had a far more public dimension to their role and chiefs had adapted to this new governance regime.
The ACPO Vice President was responding to claims from Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper that senior officers had not been as vocal as they could have been on key issues, including integrity.
CC Thornton later told PoliceOracle.com that chiefs had a duty to speak out, pointing out that this should not be left to the College of Policing and that a plurality of views was crucial.
She said: â€œPolice chiefs need to speak, particularly around challenges and the challenges we are facing in terms of standards, integrity and ethics.
â€œWe are the professional leaders of the service.
â€œMost areas require complimentary contribution from the College of Policing and chief officers. We both have to be contributing to the debate.
â€œMost of the time we will agree â€“ that wonâ€™t happen all the time but that is part of the debate.â€
Turning to Mr Herbertâ€™s previous comments about chief constables, she added: â€œThere was a sense and a perception that an alternative view was not welcome.
â€œMy point is that we believe that debate and plurality of views leads to a better discussion.â€
The Assistant Chief Constable of Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, Gareth Morgan, suggested during the conference in Northamptonshire that Ms Cooper would have been less worried about chiefs having a voice had she been in government herself.
But she said that during the Labour administration, ACPO had been far more willing to speak out.
The Shadow Home Secretary said: â€œMy recollection is there was quite a lot of voices when we were in government.
â€œWe certainly had lively debate not just from ACPO but also from the Federation and other organisations as well.â€
Ms Cooper concluded that â€œeffective debateâ€ was crucial to maintaing â€œeffective public servicesâ€.
From Police Oracle