“A return to the policing performance culture of the early 2000s – and league tables – would be a retrograde step in just about every way possible,” Gloucestershire Police Federation’s Chairman has said.
According to The Times, the Home Office will rank police forces on their success in cutting serious crime, including homicide, serious violence and cybercrime, comparing their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a “relentless focus on cutting crime”.
Senior officers, the newspaper reported, see it as a return for the Government’s investment in 20,000 police officers, and worry that the league table will see the return to a damaging target culture, where officer behaviour was skewed towards investigating the crimes that were being measured.
Steve James, Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said: “A return to the performance culture of the early 2000s would be a retrograde step in just about every way possible. It’s notable that this idea was not circulated during 10 years of austerity when policing numbers had been decimated, but is being introduced as police numbers slowly begin to return towards what they once were.
“While the Police Federation welcomes an improvement in police officer numbers, it would be disappointing to see those officers being wasted chasing largely meaningless targets that have been shown to do little to improve public safety. Policing is already the most scrutinised of public services and every Chief Constable is accountable for their force’s performance directly to their Police & Crime Commissioner and through them, the public.
“League tables will do little to reflect the importance of locally tailored, locally delivered and locally accountable policing.”
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.
Steve added that measuring just a few areas of crime showed a lack of understanding of police work. He said: “The idea of league tables betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of modern-day policing. What of the significant proportion of policing resource that is spent on dealing with mental health issues, on safeguarding the vulnerable, on road safety and many other examples of police activity not captured in these measures? Policing is far too complex to be reduced to such simple measures.”