Police face the force of government scrutiny

6 Dec 01
Home Secretary David Blunkett has locked horns with the police by pledging to subject the force to greater scrutiny in a bid to raise standards.

07 December 2001

His Police Reform white paper, 'Policing a new century', unveiled on December 5, applies the government's template of increased scrutiny – familiar to education and health practitioners – to police forces nationally.

In the run-up to publication Blunkett derided the force's detection and conviction rates of 24% and 9% as 'appallingly low' and intimated that radical action was needed to improve performance.

His cure-alls included the creation of an Ofsted-style Standards Unit and new powers to allow the government to step in when police forces are deemed to have failed. Blunkett said: 'Where action is needed it's the duty of the government to respond.'

Fred Broughton, chairman of the Police Federation, said: 'Monitoring performance is nothing new for the service. Results have been scrutinised vigorously through performance indicators for many years and all forces are subject to review by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary.'

Melanie Leech, executive director of the Association of Police Authorities, told Public Finance: 'We are very pleased that the minister has recognised the importance of police authorities. The Standards Unit will have an important part to play in partnership with the police authorities in bringing everybody up to a uniformly high standard.'

The home secretary also launched a recruitment drive to increase the number of uniformed officers from 125,519 to 130,000 by 2003.

The paper outlined controversial plans to increase civilian staff and recruit 'community support officers' with powers to use reasonable force to detain suspects.


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