Policy Exchange has already argued for police reform in three reports over recent years (Going Local, Manifesto for the Met and Size Isn’t Everything). These reports showed that putting forces under the control of locally elected representatives fosters efficiency and that small forces perform as well as big ones. Since our first publication in 2003, central control has tightened, further constricting the ability of the police to reduce local crime and antisocial behaviour. There are encouraging signs that the police are now being subjected to the kind of critical attention previously reserved for health and education. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats based their May 2007 local election campaigns on fighting crime, and the Conservatives recently called for police forces to be made accountable for their performance to the communities they serve. But local, accountable forces require the freedom to manage their officers effectively and this report seeks to identify ways in which local commanders could be set free from Whitehall. Led by Barry Loveday, one of this country’s leading experts on police reform, we asked all local police commanders in England and Wales to identify factors which would improve the quality of policing. It was the most comprehensive survey of its kind for five years, and the responses it elicited were revealing. More than two thirds of local commanders believe that central targets have degraded their ability to provide high quality policing, while just under a fifth think that these targets have had no impact on the quality of policing.In other words, the majority of local police leaders believe that central targets have made citizens less safe. Over 80 per cent of respondents are concerned by the number of officers pulled off local policing duties by headquarters’ demands; our survey suggests that at any given point the average local police commander has to manage without nearly a fifth of the workforce. Other frustrations cited by local commanders include a lack of support from their senior management teams and limited participation by services involved in partnerships designed to serve the community.
|Place of Publication||London|
|Number of pages||42|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|