Blunkett brushes off criticisms of National Policing Plan

21 Nov 02
Home Secretary David Blunkett this week played down claims that he is creating a national police force, despite unveiling centrally determined priorities for local forces.

22 November 2002

Before Blunkett's November 20 announcement of the long-awaited National Policing Plan, shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin had slated the government for moving towards 'entirely unnecessary' national determination of local policing.

But the home secretary insisted that consensus on his national objectives had first been reached at local level. 'The National Policing Plan is a working document, not a wish-list, informing local plans and putting people at the heart of policing. It is now down to police forces to implement it,' he told delegates at the Association of Police Authorities' annual conference in Harrogate.

He said the priority of all forces should be to tackle crimes that blight all communities – street crime, violence, drug-dealing, car crime and burglary. Under the national plan, each central priority must be included in local policing objectives, partly so that police forces can be compared.

A source at the Home Office acknowledged to Public Finance that although Blunkett's plan intended to complement the 'safer community' focus of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's recent Local Government Bill, it was based on 'populist local overtones'.

'It is in many ways, however, a good example of joined-up government, reflecting the priorities of the home secretary and the ODPM, but with local management of those objectives,' the source said.

Dr Ruth Henig, chair of the Association of Police Officers, said local forces needed to make their own interpretations of the National Plan. She said it was a 'framework for discussion with communities from which we can develop clear and robust local policing.'


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