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Policing: Review of Local Targets

Volume 603: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2015

In May 2015, I announced at the Police Federation conference a comprehensive review of targets in policing, to be led by Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis. I said that the review would examine the use of targets in each force to understand where, how and why targets are being used, and analyse the impact of targets on police officers’ ability to fight crime.

I am pleased to tell the House that the review has now concluded. I am grateful to Irene Curtis for her thorough investigation and analysis of the use of targets in policing.

The review sheds light on current practice among forces and confirms the problems I have long noted with numerical targets: skewing priorities; causing dysfunctional behaviours; and reducing officer discretion. It shows that the police need to go further in order to tackle the culture of narrow target-chasing and bureaucracy that has hampered and limited officers, preventing them from exercising their professional judgment. Quite rightly the public expect to see forces serving their communities, not chasing arbitrary targets. The police need performance management systems that help effective decision-making to improve performance, while also enabling individuals to be appropriately held to account.

The review makes recommendations for the leading organisations and individuals in policing: chief constables, who are tasked with improving their performance measurement, monitoring and reporting processes; Police and Crime Commissioners, who will need to develop a more sophisticated dialogue with the public on police and crime “success” factors; the College of Policing in developing a set of principles for performance management; and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to improve the presentation of performance data and communication of monitoring processes. It will be for each organisation to consider its own response but I welcome the evidence the review provides. Its implementation will help improve performance measurement and management practices across policing.

Irene Curtis’s review has highlighted the importance of understanding the demands upon the police. A key step to achieving this is a robust and consistent framework for recording those demands—both crime and non-crime incidents. We will engage with our partners to consider options for greater alignment of National Standard for Incident Recording (NSIR) with the National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS).

The review also recommended that the Home Office review the annual data requirement for victim satisfaction data. A police-led review of user satisfaction surveys, to ensure that changes proposed to the data requirement are of assistance to police forces, will be undertaken by April 2016. The Home Office will consider its findings as part of the 2017-18 annual data requirement process. In the meantime, the current annual data requirement for user satisfaction surveys will continue for 2016-17.

A copy of Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis’s report will be placed in the Library of the House. It can also be found at: