Police reform to remove red tape
Too much paperwork and not enough policing. Police paperwork to be carried out by civilian staff and changes to stop and search forms. New proposals for Police forces in England and Wales will see waste cut and more civilian staff.
The biggest shake up in policing for a generation to slash red tape and free up 3,000 officers for frontline patrol duties was proposed to the Government today.
An official review conducted by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, HM chief inspector of constabulary, says police in England and Wales have become "slaves" to rules and regulations and are "strait-jacketed by process".
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: "The 21st century police service is in danger of becoming a slave to doctrine"
It says the police service "is at a crossroads" and "very serious decisions" need to be taken if it is to return it to its original purposes.
Plans for reducing the paperwork that has overwhelmed the police in recent years include abolishing the "stop and account" form introduced after the Macpherson inquiry into Stephen Lawrence's murder. This means police must take up to 10 minutes filling in a form every time they simply stop someone.
Instead, the report suggests police should hand a business card or something similar to the person they have stopped "as a record of the encounter".
However, the personal details officers must record when they stop and search an individual will remain - though Sir Ronnie says this information could be logged on hand-held computers and sent directly to the police data bank. His report proposes cutting the form-filling that is needed just to keep tabs on known criminals.
Proposals to cut the number of police and give many of their duties to civilian staff have outraged rank and file officers, who claim they would radically change the nature of Britain's police.
Jan Berry, the head of the Police Federation, said that the plans - due to be outlined today in a long-awaited report on the future of policing - risk transforming British police forces into paramilitary-style gendarmerie.
Sir Ronnie Flanagan is understood to propose handing duties such as interviewing suspects to civilian staff - who, he reportedly says, could carry out about 90 per cent of police tasks.
According to a leak of sections of the report, quoted by the BBC, Sir Ronnie says that when civilian staff are trained to carry out such duties they do so "more effectively", and that "further work" is needed to explore this approach.
The current number of police officers in England and Wales is unsustainable and will have to fall, an official report said today.
The Home Office's adviser on policing, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, said it was not necessary to have 140,000 officers, adding that many jobs could be done by civilians instead.
His report, which was extensively leaked earlier this week, also proposed a number of changes to police bureaucracy.
If levels of red tape were stripped back it could release up to seven million hours of police time every year, the equivalent of 3,500 officers, Sir Ronnie said.
"There is widespread recognition amongst the leadership of the service that maintaining police numbers at their current level is not sustainable over the course of the next three years," the report said.….
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, today announced plans to abolish police "stop and account" forms in three pilot areas after a new report on the future of policing called for a drastic reduction in red tape.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Smith announced the trial abolition of "stop and account" in three areas with a view to rolling out the policy nationwide "as soon as possible".
For officers conducting a stop and search, there would still be a form, but it would be shorter and, using handheld devices, the time the task would take could be reduced from an average of 25 minutes to six minutes, she said.
Smith also said that, from April, she would extend the powers allowing officers to conduct searches in areas where gun or knife crime was suspected.
Her lack of enthusiasm for greater use of civilian staff came after Jan Berry, who chairs the Police Federation in England and Wales, warned it could lead to a "de-skilled" force.
"It produces a totally different kind of police service, one that's only dealing with confrontational situations, like a paramilitary force," Berry told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
But Chief Constable Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, welcomed the report and said it "lays down the gauntlet to all those involved in the leadership and governance of policing".
"Serving neighbourhoods effectively is placing new demands on the service and requires the flexibility to respond to local needs, unencumbered by a plethora of central targets and over-regulation," he said
Ms Smith said the use of new technology, such as virtual courts and video ID parades, would be increased.
The Home Secretary said she would publish a Green Paper in the spring setting out further reforms and had asked Sir Ronnie to report back in six months on progress in streamlining police processes.
Today's report also recommended radical changes to the way police forces in England and Wales are funded, which could dramatically alter the amount of cash some areas of the country receive for crime fighting.
Sir Ronnie said various floors and ceilings should be removed from the funding formulas so that police forces receive money according to the demands placed on them, such as crime levels.
The document said chief constables should become more "entrepreneurial" so that they generate income for their forces.
It said that senior police officers and senior force managers should try to create "business opportunities". It gave the example that forces could offer driving courses to the public, making use of their experienced motoring instructors at less busy times.
Police could also offer IT training, it added.
Two forces - North Wales and Kent - have already made progress in developing these money-raising schemes, the report said. ….
Police pay increases will be tight...
At a briefing, Sir Ronnie Flanagan predicted that financial settlements for the police over the next three years would be tight.
With workforce costs taking up 80% of police budgets, he said that maintaining police numbers at their current level was not sustainable.
Launching the report, he said there would be a slight reduction but refused to say how many of the 141,000 posts would go.
Jobs such as staffing the front desk of police stations and processing suspects in custody suites could be carried out by non police officers, he said.
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