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 222.

    Well surprise surprise. More targets for public servants to adhere to. No doubt Tory and Lib Dem policy will be to privatise any police services that are arbitrarily declared as "failing".

    And who will pick up the work ? Probably greedy corporate fatcats like G4S and Serco. Vile companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Is it going to be production and product related like traffic wardens?

    You MUST give 50 tickets out every day as a minimum?

    If it reduces crime I suppose that it will be a good thing but it is also possible ordinary Joe public (Black Ethnic) will be picked upon more in order to meet targets.

    As one Chief says "We only do SERIOUS crime now".

    What sort of message is that to the little pilferers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    It isn't the bureaucrats driving this - it's the bloody tories. They're such hypocrites.Thatcher was the same with NHS - bean counters and box tickers everywhere."

    Stop the politics, Billy. "New Labour" was just as keen on box-ticking and statistic-gathering rather than getting on with the job. The problem is politicians of all parties, not one colour or another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    There are,three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
    A genius politician said that many years ago.
    Theresa May, J''accuse

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    If we had 100% DNA coverage of the population, plus visitors, and the same coverage with identification cards, crime detection would be so much more effective. It has to come one day, so why not now?

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Perhaps if MPs were subjected to performance targets themselves, they'd be too busy to inflict this daftness on public professions. It's a box-ticking exercise that pays no heed to the importance of the task in hand.

    Will there now be fines for the infamous Not the Nine O'Clock News "walking on the cracks in the pavement".

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Targets won't improve policing. They will hust make the police better at massaging figures. Thats the way they worked in the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Targets, targets when will bureaucrats learn that these arbitrary targets are NOT conducive to good service. They may work in manufacturing but in any service based area, be it policing, nursing or even serving in a shop they don't work. Set targets may be achieved but often at the cost of failures in areas targets have not been set. Concentrate on providing a service not pleasing bean counters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    So police to concentrate on the easy stuff to meet targets. Just as teachers taught to the tests. It is all game playing. Politicians on down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Oh dear ! More speeding fines for trivial offenses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    As politicians and PCCs are so keen on targets perhaps they would like to apply them to themselves.

    I also believe police armed response units are very proficient at hitting any targets they are asked to meet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    "The police are only interested in motorists because there's money to be made."

    Not quite true, they're more interested in motorists because there's no physical risk to them, as opposed to violent crimes, drunks etc. & they can follow up such offences in their own time - when they feel like it.
    That is FACT, I was told that by 3 serving officers, a Sergeant, Inspector and a Superintendent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    'Police forces facing dozens of new performance targets'

    Whenever I read a headline like this a get a mental image of a Chief Constable turning to his subordinate and saying 'Round up the usual supects'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    It is possible to meet the targets without achieving the real objective.

    I worked in Australia for a while and some bright spark in the management set the credit controllers a target on clearing bad debts up and a commission scheme to encourage them.
    They issued about $2m worth of credit notes, met the target, collected the bonuses stuffed the company.
    The same will happen with the police.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    More box ticking and bureaucracy. Why can't we have a police force that deals with crime - both the crime itself and prevention - no matter what the crime? The police are only interested in motorists because there's money to be made. There's no money to be made from burglary or stolen vehicles etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    It comes down to box ticking to give the hordes of bureaucrats some thing to do.
    It isn't the bureaucrats driving this - it's the bloody tories. They're such hypocrites.Thatcher was the same with NHS - bean counters and box tickers everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The only targets there should be are catching criminals and reducing crime . Everything else is lefty do gooder's rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Our brilliant police! .......................check these out
    Hillsborough, Damilola Taylor, Stephen Lawrence, Andrew Mitchell,
    Azelle Rodney, James Ashley, Mark Duggan, Harry Stanley,
    Jean Charles de Menendez, Anne Sanderson, Stephen Waldorf.
    And on and on and on..............................our brilliant police?

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Call me naive, but I thought a Police officer starts his shift and goes out on patrol to keep the streets safe.Any serious crimes and the CID get called to investigate.There are Task Forces to target drugs,Organised Crime etc.
    Specifically targeting certain times and crimes is forgetting the basic idea of Policing.Keeping us all safe.
    MP's should have no say in how the Police do the job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    The only performance targets I'm interested in is how far our politicians have kept their election promises. So far not a single election promise has been kept, the UK is deeper in debt than before. The rich have been helped to more money while the poor, sick & vulnerable are blamed for being so. These vile excuses for human beings should be whipped naked through every town & city they've trashed.


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