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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

The Government must reconsider re-introducing league tables into policing, which would risk 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”.

Andy Berry, Chairman of Devon and Cornwall Police Federation, said: “I can appreciate that the Government and public will want to know that their police forces are performing well and providing good value for money. 

“However, in my view, that role is adequately carried out by HMICFRS and the PCC. Assessments of policing should focus on quality and not numbers. I remember very well how the focus on statistics skewed policing by organisations focussing on the numbers and not the victims. 

“I remember painful meetings where senior management teams focused on changing offences of drunk and disorderly into Section 5 public order offences because the latter were ‘counted’ by the Home Office. This wasted energy does nothing for public safety.”

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.