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 182.

    & who thought PCC's were a good idea Mrs. May? I rest my case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    How many brownie points do the Met get for the cost and time that we pay for ..for looking after the windsors..which could be done a lot cheaper by a private company..that they should pay for !!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Even more police activity diverted from enforcing the law! No wonder its all spin and nothing seems to be done, they are all too busy appraising each other and spinning their reports on where they are in relation to targets.

    Thank goodness we have CCTV, I am always reassured to know that should I be murdered/robbed or maimed for life the perpetrator has probably been caught on camera....

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    This does suggest that the Home Secretary is campaigning against her own PCCs - 56% of Tory PCCs set targets whilst only 31% of Labour PCCs do so. And five Tory PCCs set more than 10 targets for their force, whilst only one Labour PCC does so. Independent PCCs tend to fall between Tory and Labour positions. Details on my blog! www.bernardrix.com

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Police performance..

    Up north the cops were told to stop arresting for drunk & disorderly because it looked like there was a drunkeness problem.

    So people were arrested for public order instead but that had to stop because it was a recorded crime and it looked like crime was going up.

    Next instruction, arrest for Breach of the peace, arrest is recorded but no crime and no drunkeness to record!

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Why actually DO something when you can write a report that quotes out of context stats to make it APPEAR that you have done something?

    This may be a politician’s nirvana but it is in reality about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    The only Target I would set for Elected? Police commissioners is the date of their sacking. The one for Hants already has cost more than the previous Police Authority, meanwhile he has issued an unworkable Target edict, Morale on the front line has plummeted.first possible date retirement is becoming the norm and thanks to Mrs May recruitment is starting to falter. Targets are wonderful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    I opposed the establishment of PCCs in the first place and my concerns are becoming reality. PCCs, like 'managers' everywhere, have to justify their existence and one way of doing this is to micro-manage their Chief Constables and the Police Force in their AOR. The Soviet Empire of USSR and E. Europe just loved targets and we continue to copy them in spite of all the evidence that they do not work

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    to measure the polices performance, why not ask us? Sorry, having a dumb day today. I only see the obvious!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    'commitment to carry out at least 40 operations against metal theft'

    And how many such target will be used as an excuse to blame the police for failing to deal with a situation created by government inaction? In the case of metal theft, by banning scrap merchants from dealing with cash. Can't get untraceable cash for your nicked metal? Might not bother nicking it then...

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    This management by numbers is another symptom of social decline. Instead of performing their real jobs, the police will be obliged to make trivial arrests and cautions to satisfy political measurements. And all the time the UK's streets are increasing thug-infested and dangerous, and city centres are almost off-limits after dark.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    ridiculous, unworkable, crime does not present itself in convinient lists. get off your gravy train and come see the real world

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    The trouble with creating these Police and Crime Commissioners is that they want 'to do things' and in so doing are likely to complicate what is already a difficult enough job. The police should be allowed to get on with it and these so called policing czars should simply confine themselves to asking pertinent questions about issues of public concern. Few of them have much credibility anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    'commitment to carry out at least 40 operations against metal theft'

    so does meeting these 'targets' take precedent over responding to actual crimes?

    i can picture a situation where target deadline day is tomorrow and only 39 metal theft ops have been done and an elderly person rings 999 about antisocial behaviour outside there house, there only time/resources for 1 or the other.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    How about a "May" performance target?
    If police are able to look after communities without draconian laws and using tasers and guns, then May stays.
    If not, not!
    Now that is a real performance target!

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    About time, the Police constantly moane about payrises and the hard job they do, well it's time they realise life is even tougher in the private sector where you don't have pension provision, stable employers, regular hour of work, they are like kids comparing 'Dad's', time for them to grow up and realise how luck they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    If their was a PCC for London they could have imposed targets for reducing fraud/corruption which would have been easily met if they started arresting/prosecuting more MPs for false benefits/expenses claims, employing family members on over inflated salaries for non jobs, accepting money or directorships to influence policy making, cash for access/questions and tax avoidance.

    Then target the City

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    A target is something to aim for and it is good to have aims.

    Where they fall down is where the New Labour management consultant approach is adopted i.e. where you have one goal which is to meet specific targets at the neglect of everything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    Anything "Championed" by Mrs May has to be questioned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Interestingly in Chelmsford this morning two police cars (each with a PC in it) were either side of the railway viaduct protecting a small crime scene. Meanwhile prohibited vehicles that aren't allowed under the viaduct passed them. Suggested to Essex Police - can't they stand outside of their cars (as they were doing nothing), guard the scene AND prevent the prohibited vehicles? Seems not....


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