Cumbria Police Federation

Re-introducing league tables into policing would risk returning to a damaging, target-driven culture

22 April 2021

The Government must reconsider its plans to re-introduce league tables into policing, which would risk returning to a damaging, target-driven culture.

That is the message of the Police Federation after reports that Home Secretary Priti Patel is drawing up league tables which would rank police forces on their success in cutting serious crime.

According to the Times newspaper, police chiefs have been told they will be measured in their success in cutting six crime types including homicide, serious violence and cybercrime. The Home Office will compare their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a “relentless focus on cutting crime”.

Paul Williams, Chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, said: “League tables in policing do not work.

“They never did and this would only encourage a culture of policing that would force officers to apply methods that could contradict the very core of British policing, which is policing by consent.

“Every situation we encounter can be unique and different and care needs to be taken before applying a box ticking culture that does not fit in any way with keeping communities safe.

“Performance of Constabularies is already closely monitored and data around how we police is collated and used to continue learning and adapting to the continued needs of communities. Crime recording and detection is closely monitored.”

Paul added: “Policing comes in many forms and has many skill sets and also crime differs across the 43 forces.

“Re-introducing practice which has been tried and did not work is a waste of time and resources. Police Chiefs are already motivated to tackling crime bespoke to the force area. Introducing league tables would not motivate but divert attention from other vital areas of policing. We work for the Crown to protect the public and should not become statistic generators for questionable gain.”

In a letter seen by The Times, Police Minister Kit Malthouse, said that the measures would provide “national accountability and collective responsibility” while supporting and collective responsibility” while supporting and challenging forces. He said forces would be judged on their ability to reduce homicide, serious violence, drug supply, neighbourhood violence and cybercrime. They will also be measured on victim satisfaction.

National benchmarks will be based on traditional data such as recorded crime, as well as new measures including the number of police referrals into drug treatment programmes and hospital admissions for youth stabbings.

In 2007, when targets were introduced by a previous Government, the Police Federation successfully pressed for them to be scrapped after it led to "ludicrous" decisions such as arresting a child for throwing a cucumber slice.

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, said: "Scrutiny and accountability are already a large part of policing, so these proposals for league tables would risk a return to a very damaging and target-driven culture.

“Mechanisms for holding individuals and forces to account are in place, and we are already amongst the most scrutinised professionals in the world.

“My message to Government would be to stop and think before returning to the mistakes of their predecessors. Reintroducing targets in policing would be a damaging and retrograde step. In previous years when they have been used we have seen forces focus on targets to the exclusion of other issues. This is not good for the public and certainly no good for the victims of crime.”