Return to policing league tables will divide forces and damage quality of service

HAMPSHIRE Police Federation has hit out at the proposed return to league tables in policing – and targets – that will in divide forces and damage quality of service.

There are reports that Home Secretary Priti Patel is drawing up league tables which would rank police forces on their success in cutting serious crime.

According to the Times newspaper, police chiefs have been told they will be measured in their success in cutting six crime types including homicide, serious violence and cybercrime. The Home Office will compare their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a “relentless focus on cutting crime”.

Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation Chair, said: “I’ve no idea why Priti Patel wants to do this. It was very, very divisive before. There are so many aspects of policing that you can’t measure on a league table and I know, for example, beforehand vital things like catching and prosecuting a drink driver, didn’t fit into any of the categories. But taking drink drivers off the street is life-saving.

“We could go to a sudden death and spend half a shift consoling an elderly lady who’s lost her husband of 50 years and we can have a massive impact on her and what she thinks of the police, and how well she’s able to deal with that situation, but that wouldn’t be measured anywhere.

“You simply cannot measure policing in terms of these league tables.”

The move would skew priorities, with competitive managers trying to get their team to the top by focussing on quantity over quality, Zoë warned.

The move will damage morale and prevent police officers from spending the time with victims of crime because they’ve got to chase their tails ticking boxes, she added.

Zoe recalled: “We’ve been here before and it was crazy. Officers were being told, ‘This shift you’ve got to go out and issue three tickets or you’ve got to submit three intel logs’. So if they’re not actually coming across those things, the intel, then they’re effectively just putting in anything just to meet those numbers.

“I would urge the Government to have a serious rethink about doing this and speak to the people who were there before when it happened and find out how bad it was because actually now there’s a perfectly good performance framework in place. We are measured against our most similar forces and it’s quite detailed the way they look at performance. I don’t really understand why that needs to change.”

In a letter seen by The Times, Police Minister Kit Malthouse said that the measures would provide “national accountability and collective responsibility” while supporting and collective responsibility” while supporting and challenging forces. He said forces would be judged on their ability to reduce homicide, serious violence, drug supply, neighbourhood violence and cybercrime. They will also be measured on victim satisfaction.

National benchmarks will be based on traditional data such as recorded crime, as well as new measures including the number of police referrals into drug treatment programmes and hospital admissions for youth stabbings.

In 2007, when targets were introduced by a previous Government, the Police Federation successfully pressed for them to be scrapped after it led to “ludicrous” decisions such as arresting a child for throwing a cucumber slice.


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