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Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

The Petition of Johnno Hills, and British citizens,

Declares that there is great dissatisfaction with target driven policing methods and calls on the Government to drop target driven policing which is undermining public trust and bringing the police into disrepute; and to cut excessive government bureaucracy which leaves our streets devoid of regularly visible police presence so that decent, law abiding citizens are afraid to walk the streets of their own country for fear of becoming crime victims.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons implore the Government to cut excessive bureaucracy and ensure police officers spend more time on the streets and to make the role of the PCSOs one which will support the return of regular police officers

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 22 April 2008; Vol. 474, c. 1285 .] [P000173]

Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

The Government's crime strategy aims to free up the police so that they are able to focus on serious crimes and local priorities. There are now fewer central targets and even greater flexibility for those at the front line to respond to issues important to the community. Bringing criminals to justice is a core responsibility for the police, but we do not expect officers to pursue detection numbers for numbers' sake if that means chasing minor misdemeanours at the expense of serious offenders. For, example, the national detection rate is not a target for 2008/09.

New Government targets announced in October 2007 give much more prominence to tackling serious crime. The latest performance indicators for the police include measures of the rate of offences brought to justice for serious violent crime, serious sexual offences and serious acquisitive crime. We are pleased to see forces are reflecting these priorities in their new performance plans.

Bureaucracy in the police service is necessary to ensure a fair process for victims, witnesses and alleged offenders and for the collection and collation of evidence to secure convictions. Paperwork is designed locally to ensure that each force can successfully operate processes for recording of crime and other incidents, the prosecution of offenders, the detention of suspects, engagement with the public and the servicing of internal business around resources and HR.

The Government is committed to tackling the root causes of unnecessary bureaucracy. To that end, Sir Ronnie Flanagan was commissioned and reported on this in his review of policing and whose final report was published with a statement in the House on 7 February. He identified risk aversion - in the police service, government and society—as the root cause. This issue and the specific remedies he proposed in stop and account, recording of data, use of IT (including the expanded use of personal digital assistants with extra funding) are being taken forward. The Government will say more on this in its Green Paper on policing.