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Police: Powers

Volume 492: debated on Wednesday 20 May 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 23 February 2009, Official Report, columns 7-8WS, on policing: publication of reports by Sir David Normington and Jan Berry, what steps her Department is taking to review charging procedures to help police use their discretion more. (272985)

The Home Office is committed to returning discretion to police forces and frontline officers by streamlining performance management, reducing bureaucracy, and improving supervision at all levels of the service.

Sir David Normington’s review set out how the Home Office will reduce burdens on police forces by removing or reducing the amount of information we collect from them, thus allowing police forces to spend less time filling out paperwork for the centre.

Jan Berry, the Reducing Bureaucracy Advocate, was appointed to help us cut the bureaucracy coming out of Whitehall and to challenge both Government and the service itself to make further reductions in unnecessary bureaucracy. Along with a reference group comprising frontline police officers and support staff she has been analysing common procedures undertaken by frontline officers and staff with a view to reducing the bureaucracy involved.

One of the areas that she has been looking at is the custody process, including charging practices. As I announced at the Police Federation Conference on 13 May, Jan Berry is now working with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney General on the scope for streamlining the charging process so that the police get the best possible service and a quicker turnaround on decisions from the Crown Prosecution Service, and that police officers receive the appropriate advice to enable them to use their discretion confidently in making charging decisions.