Home Secretary Responds to Flanagan Review

Tuesday, 12 February, 2008

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has accepted recommendations to cut unnecessary bureaucracy, exploit new technology and enable police officers to spend more time on front line policing

Responding to Sir Ronnie Flanagan's Review of Policing, the Home Secretary said:

"We are determined to cut unnecessary red tape and free up police officers to focus on protecting their communities and dealing with the issues that matter most to communities.

"I'm very grateful to Sir Ronnie Flanagan for his report which outlines how we can improve policing, giving officers more time on the front line and freeing up resources. It's absolutely right that we have an evidenced based approach to reform and ensure that any changes are proportionate and retain accountability for the public.

"There's a lot we have already done which is making a difference: the latest Police Performance Assessments show that police office time on front-line duties increased again last year (2006/07), for the third successive year. But there is more that we need to do.

"I have formally asked Sir Ronnie to report back to me in six months on how we and the police are reducing bureaucracy. For our part, in addition to the measures outlined to day, the Government will be publishing a Green Paper in the spring to further improve policing for the future."

The Home Secretary announced:

• Scrapping the lengthy form used to record Stop and Account. The police will instead use Airwave police radio technology to record any encounter, and a simple card will be given to those stopped to enable them to call for further information. This will be initially piloted in three force areas.

• Streamlining the form used to record Stop and Search. This will build on work to shorten the form already underway by the Metropolitan Police Authority, in co-operation with community representatives.

• Piloting the use of hand held devices to enable officers to input information directly, cutting the average time taken to record stop and search information from 25 to 6 minutes.

• Introducing a new standard one page form to record crime. This form is currently being trialled in Staffordshire and other forces, and the Home Office will ensure it can be introduced nationally as soon as possible.

• Extending police powers to tackle gun and knife crime by enabling police officers to stop and search in designated areas where an act of serious violence has taken place, as well as in anticipation of serious violence.

• A project to streamline IT systems to make them more compatible. The Home Office, Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities have commissioned the National Policing Improving Agency to review the police's IT strategy and report in May.

The Home Office is already making progress in response to Sir Ronnie's interim report from September:

• From April, new Public Service Agreements and targets will provide greater flexibility for police to focus on what matters locally and to streamline the process that gets suspected criminals to court.

• We are consulting on reforms on the workings of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act that will reduce police bureaucracy and will allow experienced officers to focus on their core roles by making better use of police staff.

• A range of improvements to the way the police work with the courts and the wider criminal justice system are being piloted. This includes virtual courts - where initial results show cuts in the average time between charge and first hearing for bail cases from 9 1/2 days to less than 3 1/2 hours - and new streamlined processes to reduce police and administrative time in preparing prosecution files.

• We are investing in new technology to make crime fighting more effective and to save officers' time. This includes video identity parades, livescan electronic fingerprinting, body-worn cameras, and the £50m capital fund that will deliver 10,000 mobile data devices by September.

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