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Cuts in Police red tape and more say for the public on Policing
Radical new plans to cut red tape and give the police more freedom to get on with the job of reducing crime, combined with new measures to increase public confidence in the police and give the public a greater say about how their communities are policed, were outlined by the Government today.
Today's Policing Green Paper: 'From the neighbourhood to the national' sets out how the Government will build on the achievements of the last decade, working with the police to continue to drive down crime, drive up public confidence, and give local people more information and a bigger say in how their neighbourhood is policed.
The announcement follows publication of the annual crime statistics today that show the Government has exceeded its aim to reduce all crime by 15 per cent since 2002/03, with an overall reduction of 18 per cent, and that the risk of being a victim of crime is at the lowest level ever recorded.
The key measures announced today include:
* A new Policing Pledge setting out what local people can expect from their local police team - with clear national standards, including the amount of time spent on the beat, easy ways to contact your local neighbourhood team, and clear response times to all calls and incidents.
* A stronger voice for local people - regular information on crime, including crime maps, and action being taken to tackle it and regular local meetings to discuss priorities, backed by new directly elected Policing Representatives.
* Removing all but one top down target that impacts on police forces - to increase public confidence in the police and other agencies to reduce crime.
The Green Paper outlines how the police will be given more freedom to deliver what local people want and to cut crime locally. The Government will now set national target for forces based on improving public confidence while delivering further cuts in crime.
Launching the Policing Green Paper, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:
"We are determined to keep our streets safe - taking knives off the streets, dealing with wider issues of youth crime, the continuing challenges of drugs and organised crime, and of course the fight against terrorism.
"But we should not lose sight of the fact that over the last decade, overall crime is down by a third - thanks in large part to the hard work, dedication and courage of the police - with over 10,000 more officers in addition to new community support officers, and every area of the country since April now having its own neighbourhood police team.
"We are determined to build on this achievement.
"Today's proposals will cut red tape and top-down targets, freeing the police to focus on the most serious crime and on local issues. At the same time we are setting out for the first time clear minimum standards for what people can expect from their local police teams; and giving them more information on crime and what is being done to tackle it at local level, and a stronger voice in working with the police to decide local priorities.
"This is a vital part of this government's commitment to build a fairer safer Britain."
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"Our Green Paper is setting out a new deal for the public and the police. I am grateful for the hard work of our police colleagues and others in helping draw together these proposals. We all want to see a police force that delivers for the public, with everyone receiving the same high standards wherever they live. The public are the best weapon to help tackle crime. They need to be clear about what they can expect from the police and that is why I'm putting them at the forefront of setting priorities.
"I want to help the police to continue to cut crime, drive up confidence and deliver for the public. Today's plans give greater freedom for the police matched by more power to the public."
Other proposals announced today include:
* An new enhanced role for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), giving them a greater role to robustly and transparently scrutinise police performance.
* The appointment of Jan Berry as an independent bureaucracy champion to drive further cuts in red tape and free up extra police hours.
* An extra £25M to invest in new technology and IT systems to help save time and reduce the need for officers to return to the station to fill out paper work.
* Fast track routes to the top for highly performing police officers and a new National College of Police Leadership.
* Standardised uniforms and age of entry for Police Community Support Officers.
The Green Paper is the Government's substantive response to the independent review of policing by Sir Ronnie Flanagan and Louise Casey's review 'Engaging communities in fighting crime'. Many of the measures in the Policing Green Paper take forward their recommendations.
Leading the work to cut bureaucracy Jan Berry said:
"I was both surprised and flattered to be invited to undertake this important new role, which, having given careful consideration to, am pleased to accept. I do not under-estimate the challenge this role presents and will not hesitate in drawing attention to unnecessary record keeping or demands on police, wherever they may come from.
Throughout my career in policing I have understood the value of a professional police presence on our streets, with Constables being trusted to use their common sense and discretion to resolve local problems and cut crime. New mobile technology already is and has the potential to assist and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make a real difference, maximising still further their presence on the street."
Today's Green Paper builds on the substantial achievements in policing and tackling crime already delivered. Earlier in the year the Government reached the milestone of a neighbourhood policing team in every area, with nearly £1 billion pounds over the last three years spent supporting police forces in rolling it out. The police workforce has grown and changed, there are now nearly 140,000 officers, 16,000 PCSOs and over 76,000 civilian staff. Overall crime is down by a third in ten years and the fear of crime is at its lowest level since 1981.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The Policing Green Paper can be found at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk
2. Local Partnerships will continue to focus on what matters to their communities by delivering against their Local Area Agreements.
3. Sir Ronnie Flanagan's Independent Review of Policing reported back in February and more recently the independent review by Louise Casey 'Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime'. Many of the recommendations from these reports are being taken forward by today's Policing Green Paper.
4. The tripartite review of PCSOs, "Neighbourhood Policing Programme: PCSO review", has also been published today on the NPIA website (http://www.npia.police.uk). The review was commissioned by the Home Office, APA and ACPO to consider the role and function of PCSOs, as well as their powers, equipment and training. PCSOs are a unique and valuable addition to the policing family and a vital part of the communities they serve. We want to maintain this momentum and to continue to support and develop this important role. The Review made 22 recommendations, which will be taken forward in an action plan being developed by the NPIA.
5. Also published today is the Home Office Research Report - Analysis of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Activity Based Costing (ABC) data: results from an initial review at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds The report summarises the activities undertaken by PCSOs while on active duty.