Police forces facing dozens of new performance targets

Home Secretary Theresa May The elected crime commissioner scheme was one championed by Theresa May

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Police forces in England and Wales have been set 178 performance targets by police and crime commissioners, despite a Home Office vow to cut red tape.

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May told senior police officers they "have only one target, to reduce crime".

BBC analysis shows 18 of the 41 PCCs have set targets or performance measures and others broader objectives.

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said the targets bore "no resemblance" to past government goals.

In a reform championed by Mrs May, PCCs were elected in all police force areas outside London last November to replace police authorities.

They are responsible for setting a strategy for each force and holding chief constables to account. In the capital the mayor of London takes on the responsibilities of PCCs.

'Targets comeback'

Addressing last week's police superintendents' conference, the home secretary said she had got rid of action plans and would not micro-manage what individual forces got up to, but warned that she had noticed targets "making a comeback".

Forces setting specific targets

Avon and Somerset - 4

Cambridgeshire - 12

Cumbria - 20

Devon and Cornwall - 4

Hampshire - 5

Hertfordshire - 14

Kent - 5

Leicestershire - 26

Norfolk - 9

Northamptonshire - 1

Northumbria - 8

Nottinghamshire - 21

Thames Valley - 10

Warwickshire - 6

West Mercia - 15

West Midlands - 4

West Yorkshire - 1

Wiltshire - 13

The BBC examined police and crime plans, which all PCCs have to publish, as well as associated documents on their websites.

The extent of the performance targets and the language used to describe them varies significantly from one force to another.

Bedfordshire refers to "priorities" but lists no specific targets, whilst Cambridgeshire has a wide range of measures, including reducing burglaries, increasing victim satisfaction and improving the ratio of reported incidents of domestic violence to the number of prosecutions.

One of the objectives set for the Norfolk force is to reduce violent and sexual crimes at specified times of night, in patrol zones of certain towns, to no more than 450 crimes per year by 2015-16.

Leicestershire's 26 targets - the most of any force - are to be measured by satisfaction surveys and crime figures.

Meanwhile, Thames Valley Police has been set 10 crime reduction targets. These include a commitment to carry out at least 40 operations against metal theft and to "disrupt 20 problem and organised crime groups that prey on vulnerable people and isolated communities".

The four police forces in Wales have not been set specific targets, but the PCC for the South Wales force refers to targets that are to be set in general terms.

Local priorities

Mrs May has consistently spoken out against police targets and performance measures.

In May 2010, she told the Police Federation she would "look at dismantling the targets in disguise - the key performance indicators - which set national, one-size-fits-all priorities for local forces and instead allow you to pursue the crimes and criminals you believe you should".

A year later she told the Conservative Party conference that she "hadn't asked the police to be social workers... I've told them to cut crime" and earlier this year she told the Police Federation that she had "got rid of Labour's plethora of targets".

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner and chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said PCCs worked closely with communities to identify what most concerned them about crime.

He said: "Police and crime plan objectives bear no resemblance to previous central government targets. Police and crime commissioners put their draft five-year plans out for public consultation and used the comments they received back to shape local priorities to fight crime.

"Police and crime plans are designed to reflect the views of local people and not constrain police officers from cutting crime."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Setting targets for law enforcement is ridiculous, it will invite controversy every time someone is arrested for seemingly "petty" crimes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    10. hilli
    Targets, a politicians answer to everything it seems
    Except for themselves, of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    I grew up in an era when the police were respected. Now I wouldn't cross the road to help one. Too many of them are just self important yobs in uniform drunk with the power bestowed upon them.
    Its not targets or the lack of them that is needed. Its a fundamental change in police culture. Get out of the flash cars, walk the streets and stop thinking of the public as them and us

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    In any war, you focus on specifics

    Each battlefield can have variant targets relative to enemy activity, which is why these new police targets are directed at area specifics relative to local enemy criminal activity.

    Previous national targets were not condusive to localised criminal activity & realitys, these new target battleplans are.
    Question is resources & other enemy activity devalued

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Will this involve people being arrested for "looking at a policeman funny" just to meet the targets?

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    In some areas, PCC election turnout was 11% (the highest was 20%) - so only their spouses, friends, family and their next door neighbour's cat voted for them anyway.

    So why have they been given an power at all ? No one wanted them in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    "The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners said the targets bore "no resemblance" to past government goals."
    Does that mean....
    The past targets were a waste of time?
    The current targets are a waste of time?
    All these targets were/are a waste of time?

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    The Police in the UK do a wonderful job.

    I feel confident.

    Some can be intolerable, nut thats OK

    I would like to commend them but hope that, they dont got tangled from acting as Immigration offciers as a freind of mine was asked

    I don't think anyone has the right to ask ANYONE about their ID at any given time

    Well done

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    'Officer - I've been mugged, and my assailant is running away now. On foot. You can catch him if you rush!'

    'Ahh, but this isn't identified as a priority by the government. We have to optimise our resources to ensure our outcome-focused objectives are met. I'll diarise a telecon with key stakeholders to discuss how to proceed for non-urgent issues such as this'.

    'It's too late. He's got away.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Perhaps setting specific targets will take the focus off overall crime prevention?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Setting targets make them the sole priority for senior management to look good potentially to the detriment of the public. Since the police of this country first began they were empowered to prevent and detect crime and kep the peace (includes keeping people safe). Are these not good targets?
    Let's cut the red tape, and get police officers back where they belong serving the public not bureaucrats

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Funny, the average yearly PCC wage could pay for 2.5 police constables, not to mention the wages of all their 'support' staff. Surely that would be a better plan for reducing crime.

    Politicising the police force and constantly pushing an ill thought out target culture where it shouldn't be used is yet another detriment to this countries infrastructure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Ooooh great more box ticking, soon the Police service will be as inefficient as the dear old NHS where u have increasing numbers of box ticking managers and less front line staff, and to make it seem like its working MP's will continue to move the metaphorical goal posts ever faster in an insane attempt to prove chaos theory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Micromanagement of our various public services is not a good thing. Teachers nurses and policemen must feel very uncertain about what is really required of them and that must increase staff turn over and reduce quality of service.
    Education Policing and the NHS have been political footballs al my voting life, and I wish instead they were run by technocrats distant from government as in the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The anti-everything brigade are out in force this morning. Is Jeremy Kyle not on today?

    It's really very simple; the PCCs provide a democratically accountable framework within which the police must operate. Some kind of performance metrics must be included in order to measure achievement .

    If you had real jobs you would know that this is normal in the world outside the public sector.

  • Comment number 26.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    @12 Weird Alex

    As a former Chief Constable The Liberator's probably now head of a private security firm, squeezing his politician mates for favours to increase his business. Of course he wants the Police privatised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    3. The Liberator

    "As a retired chief constable that ..etc, etc, drivel".
    Yes, of course you were.


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