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Health and Safety Regulation (Police)

Volume 532: debated on Monday 12 September 2011

We have worked with the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Health and Safety Executive to publish new guidance, in order to support police officers to do the right thing by taking a common-sense approach to health and safety rules.

As we have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry), some jobs are dangerous, and being a police officer is certainly one of them. As a bomb disposal officer, I have some empathy with a police officer who told me recently that by the time he has filled out the mountain of paperwork required for health and safety, all he has done is delay the point at which he gets on the street to do his dangerous job. Although I commend the Government on tackling this area, can we not do a bit more?

Working with police forces, we continue to attack bureaucracy. I pay tribute to the work of the chief constable of the West Midlands, Chris Sims, who drives these efforts by leading our reducing bureaucracy programme board. We have identified that 2.5 million police hours could be saved through improvements to form filling and other means of reducing bureaucracy. In addition to those substantial savings, we have already announced savings in relation to reducing the burden of the stop-and-account form, and scrapping the stop form, saving another 800,000 police hours a year.

May I inform the Minister that on my regular visits to Huddersfield police station, John Robins, the chief superintendent, has never mentioned a problem of health and safety, but he is worried about the glib talk about getting rid of back-office functions, such as the crucial intelligence unit, without which police on the beat would not know where to go and what to tackle?

We are clear that intelligence functions are part of the front line. However, as I keep trying to point out to hon. Members, a third of all those employed in police forces, and all the resources they command, are not on the front line. It is, therefore, possible to drive savings without damaging or affecting the kinds of services to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Those are the questions that he should be asking his local force.