The government said on Tuesday it was cutting police red tape by
scrapping two targets introduced by the ousted Labour administration
ahead of budget cuts expected to see a reduction in officers.
minister Nick Herbert said sweeping away bureaucracy would allow
officers to “do more with less” but accepted that “substantial” funding
cuts were on the way to help tackle Britain’s record budget deficit.
Home Office, responsible for the 43 police forces in England and Wales,
faces losing around a quarter of its budget by 2015 as part of
austerity plans unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in his emergency
budget last week.
“It’s absolutely clear that it’s going to be
very tough, that the budgets are going to fall, and that police forces
are going to have to share the burden of reducing the deficit,” Herbert
told BBC radio.
He said an immediate priority was to increase
efficiency, noting that local forces still ran separate procurement
programmes and ran their own IT systems.
A review of pay and
conditions for the 144,000 officers in England and Wales, and scrapping
two of the Labour government’s targets would also help save money, he
One of the targets to go is the National Policing Pledge,
introduced in 2008, which includes commitments to answer emergency 999
calls within 10 seconds and for neighbourhood police teams to spend 80
percent of their time visibly in their area.
The other is a
target announced in March 2009 to improve public confidence in policing.
Herbert said there was evidence that officers had been tied up
dealing with the “huge bureaucracy which the last government created in
their target culture”.
“It is a paradox that we have seen the
recruitment of record numbers of police officers in the last few years,
and yet the public still say to us they don’t see them on the streets,”
“That is why sweeping away that bureaucracy … is a
very important part of the agenda of delivering more for less.”
Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told BBC
radio that some low-priority services would have to be reduced and
accepted that police numbers would fall.
“We’ll have to look at
how we can do things more efficiently … The rub comes when we look at
the numbers, with 83 percent of the police budget being people, sadly we
will lose people, in my prediction, over the next few years,” he said.