Derbyshire Police Federation

Target culture is not good for policing, says Federation chair

22 April 2021

Introducing league tables for forces will simply see a return to a damaging target-driven culture in the police service, says Derbyshire Police Federation Tony Wetton.

It has been confirmed today that Home Secretary Priti Patel is drawing up plans to rank police forces on their success in cutting serious crime.

Police chiefs have been told they will be measured on six crime types including homicide, serious violence and cyber-crime. The Home Office will compare their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a “relentless focus on cutting crime”.

But Tony is against the plans.

“There is no doubt in my mind that target-driven policing is damaging for the police service,” he explains, “It does not improve the service that we provide to our communities and in fact it does the opposite – we have seen it lead to perverse consequences in the past and we are well rid of it. When forces are measured for their performance in some areas then they quite obviously become the focus and that can lead to other vital areas of policing work slipping down the list of priorities.  It is quite right for Government to identify what it sees as priorities, but we either believe in policing being delivered based on local needs, with local accountability, or we don’t.  We already have Police and Crime Commissioners in place, holding Chief Constables to account to deliver high quality policing for their communities.

“Police officers want to ensure they offer the public an efficient and effective service. Operating in a target led culture will not help them do that. The Government should have a re-think, this is not the way forward.”

John Apter, national Federation chair, has also warned: “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,” John Apter explained, “Mechanisms for holding individuals and forces to account are in place, and we are already among the most scrutinised professionals in the world.

“My message to Government would be to stop and think before returning to the mistakes of its 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.

“These league tables would also restrict the ability of forces to focus on local issues, because chief officers would be chasing targets which were judged on criteria set in Whitehall. If, despite these warnings, this is pursued it will fail, and it will be damaging.”

In 2007, when targets were introduced by the previous government, the Federation successfully pressed for them to be scrapped after they led to “ludicrous” decisions.

 

 

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