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”.
Mark Andrews, Chairman of Wiltshire Police Federation, said: “Our officers plan their operational day based on intelligence in areas, people and events which are causing the greatest risk to the public.
“They don’t just wonder out of the station with a pocket full of tickets to issue. A police officer’s time is stretched so they need to use this time efficiently to get results and make a real difference.
“The introduction of league tables - with set targets - is a backwards step and could have the negative effect of distracting officers from sound police work to adopting a more quantitative approach.
“It is always easy to go for those quick wins or massage figures to move you up the table. What I think the public want is for us to deal with those causing the greatest harm not just collect stats.”
He added: “Our officers are motivated to do their best, under great strain, for the communities they serve. This will only lead to additional administrative burdens, have little effect on real crime and distract officers from making a difference.”
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.