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Police Services (Administrative Burden)

Volume 502: debated on Monday 14 December 2009

I am grateful to the Minister for referring to his earlier answer. He will recall—after he has checked his notes—that in his earlier reply, he referred to a report published by the Home Office on 2 December. That report mentions that the 27,000 portable hand-held computers given to officers are ineffective because they lack the proper programs. Does he agree that it is bad enough that officers have excessive bureaucracy, but worse still that the equipment they have to deal with it does not work?

As I said, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave earlier. We are very concerned about bureaucracy, and he will know that £80 million of taxpayers’ money has been invested in hand-held devices, reducing bureaucracy by some 30 minutes per officer per shift, by taking them away from paperwork and putting them back on the front line. That is an investment to which this Government have been committed, and—if I can be political—it is one of those investments that the Opposition may find it necessary to cut.

Given that complaints against the police often lead to a considerable amount of administration and given that what complainants often want is simply a better service from their local police, will my right hon. Friend consider giving the Independent Police Complaints Commission a remit to improve services in addition to its current responsibilities for complaints?

In the White Paper published two weeks ago, we proposed additional responsibilities for the IPCC. We have also ensured that we strengthen the role of police authorities. One of the key issues is to remove direct elections, which the Opposition favour, and strengthen local democracy through police authorities, which the Government favour. Those are key issues in improving the redress that citizens have when police systems, sadly and occasionally, fail.