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Gwent Police Federation

Federation welcomes plans to cut red tape

18 April 2023

Gwent Police Federation has welcomed a planned shake-up of the way crimes are logged in a bid to reduce paperwork.

Under reforms unveiled by policing minister Chris Philp, officers would no longer be required to record frivolous allegations of offensive speech or social media rows as crimes.

Mr Philp said officers were not the “thought police” and that being rude or insulting should not be treated as a “police matter”.

He said changing Home Office counting rules on how reported incidents were logged would slash “unnecessary red tape” and free up more time to investigate crime.

In a speech to the Law Society, Mr Philp also accepted that police officers should not be expected to deal with mental health cases or act as a stop gap for other agencies.

Gwent Police Federation chair Matthew Candy welcomed the proposals but urged the Government to go further in its attempts to reduce bureaucracy.

He said: “Workload remains a massive issue for our members with many ending up working on their rest days or in the evenings into the early hours just to keep up with the paperwork.

“We welcome any measures that reduce those ludicrous levels of admin but feel there are other areas - particularly for detectives surrounding the disclosure rules - that can also be looked at.”

“The reforms outlined in the minister’s speech would be a good start and we would be happy to offer suggestions on how we can get officers back on the streets and into their communities.”

Matthew also welcomed the minister’s comments on officer hours taken up on cases which could be handled by other agencies.

He said: “This is a serious issue that was highlighted during the pandemic and I am pleased our concerns are now being looked at by the Home Office.”

The proposed shake-up follows recommendations from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which said a review of productivity found an estimated 443,000 officer hours were spent filling in forms and dealing with unnecessary admin - the equivalent to attending 220,000 domestic abuse incidents or 270,000 burglaries.

In his speech, Mr Philp said: “We’re going to make clear that frivolous allegations of malicious communications should not be recorded as a criminal offence unless the criminal threshold has clearly been met.

“We don’t think that being rude or insulting is a police matter.

“Officers are not the thought police and where something is reported that doesn’t meet the criminal threshold, we don’t want that to be investigated or reported as a crime. We don’t want to waste police time on that kind of thing."

The Home Office said the changes would save police time by no longer recording cases of messages that may offend someone or where a public disturbance occurred but has been resolved.

A spokesman said ministers believed officers should be on the streets investigating crimes such as burglary rather than investigating comments made online.