Essex police commissioner Nick Alston scraps most targets

Nick Alston PCC Nick Alston said he has set only one target - to reduce crime in Essex

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The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex says all "numerical targets" for the county's constabulary have been scrapped.

Nick Alston, Essex's PCC, said they had been replaced by a single overall target of reducing rime.

Mr Alston was speaking after a committee of MPs heard some forces were routinely manipulating crime data.

He said the force had, in the past, "suffered very strongly from a performance culture".

Essex Police is yet to comment,

The Conservative PCC, elected last November, said: "I took away the numerical targets from Essex Police, the targets have gone.

"I am very aware of the susceptibility of crime statistics to be worked in all sorts of different ways."

The Public Administration Committee on Tuesday was told of a number of techniques police in England and Wales had used to manipulate crime figures.

They include "cuffing", in which certain crimes are are not recorded, and "nodding", where police and criminals collude to improve apparent detection rates.

"Dozens of officers have told me that relatively recently there was a performance culture in Essex," he said.

"And some initiatives, such as the imposition of time-based targets for the number of arrests, distorted officer behaviour and made it more difficult for them to exercise professional discretion in dealing with an incident."

But Mr Alston said manipulating data was not only an affront to the victims of crime but made intelligence-led policing, which might be based on clusters of offences, very difficult.

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