June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets
In a speech at the ACPO-APA policing conference, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the public confidence target and the policing pledge will be scrapped immediately.
There is a sense that targets are simply unsustainable in the face of budget cuts. She told police chief officers that as the national budget shrinks they will have to find ways to do more with less:
'The spending review has not begun yet, so we don't know the exact figures, but I must be clear. The cuts will be big, they will be tough to achieve, and they will fall on the police as they will on other important public services.' Crimlinks has published the full speech here.
The Home Secretary said that police forces could save money by cutting bureaucracy and getting more police out on the streets. She would help, she said, by cutting back on central control of police operations and targets, and abolishing time-consuming forms, such as the 'stop and account' form. She will also get rid of the centrally driven target of 'improving public confidence' and the policing pledge 'with immediate effect':
'Targets don't fight crime; targets hinder the fight against crime. In scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge, I couldn't be any clearer about your mission: It isn't a 30-point plan. It is to cut crime. No more, and no less.'
For their part, the chief officers will have to cut back significantly on spending as part of the government's overall budget reductions. Red tape eliminated by the Home Office must not be reinstated at a local level, she said. Chief constables must take a 'radical approach' to cutting bureaucracy.
The Home Secretary vowed that she would be 'ruthless' in cutting waste, streamlining and improving efficiency to make as much money available to the police as possible.
Whatever happens, she said, policing must be visible and available to the public, so police budgets will have to be used cleverly:
'I am determined that frontline availability should increase, even as budgets contract.'
She said she will examine the entire 'top-down model of accountability imposed on police by central government'; accountability to Whitehall will be replaced by more local control. Therefore, each force should have a directly elected person setting the force budget, agreeing local strategic targets, handling issues of community safety and appointing local chief constables:
'Our vision is a bold one, with a totally redrawn national policing landscape.'