I have spoken to many officers about the time that they have to spend filling out forms. The Government are committed to reducing bureaucracy so that the police can get back on to the streets and deal with crime.
In Warwickshire, our police force has to deal with 1.5 million phone calls over and above the emergency calls every year, and rightly so. Does my right hon. Friend know that, under the previous Government, the police spent more time on paperwork than on patrolling the streets? That is wrong.
I appreciate the burden that non-emergency calls place on police forces. The Government are investigating how we can take forward a plan for a national non-emergency number, which I think will improve the service to the public. We are committed to reducing bureaucracy. We have already scrapped the policing pledge and the previous Government’s targets. We want to ensure that police officers can be out on the streets where the public want to see them.
I understand that in my constituency of Redditch, much progress has been made on reducing the time that police spend on administrative tasks, and I appreciate that paperwork is necessary. However, the number of robberies and other theft offences has risen in Redditch since 2007. Does the Minister agree that such crime could be significantly reduced if the police were given more time on the beat and spent less time filling in forms?
I agree with my hon. Friend and understand her concern about those crimes. A recent report of the inspectorate of constabulary found that the police were visible and available to the community for an average of only about 10% of the time because they are too tied up in bureaucracy. We must tackle that.
Will the Minister start to collect statistics on how long the police have to wait in court to give evidence? If his Government start slashing the Crown Prosecution Service budget, closing courts and reducing civilian officers, will that waiting time not grow longer?
The fact is that we have one of the most expensive criminal justice systems in the world. The test of its effectiveness is not the amount of money that we spend on it, but how efficient it is. Tomorrow I shall discuss with the inspectorate of constabulary the administrative and bureaucratic obstacles that impact on the police in inefficient court processes, which we must tackle.