Police (Paperwork)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th October 2002.

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Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Labour, South Thanet 2:30 pm, 28th October 2002

What plans he has to reduce the paperwork police officers have to deal with.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

We published the report of Sir David O'Dowd's taskforce on policing bureaucracy in September. It shows us how the police service can cut administrative burdens and reduce inefficient working practices, which together keep police officers off the streets. The Government have set up a joint group co-chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers to take forward and implement the taskforce report.

Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Labour, South Thanet

I am very appreciative of my right hon. Friend's answer, but what progress has so far been made in implementing the report? More importantly, since this is really about getting police officers back into front-line policing, how are we going to monitor whether reducing bureaucracy is in fact equalling more policemen doing what they are employed to do?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

On my hon. Friend's first point, we kept in close touch with the taskforce while it was doing its work, so we were able to make a number of changes to, for example, the powers that can be exercised by civilian custody staff in the context of the Police Reform Act 2002, which received Royal Assent in July. We have therefore already made a start on the issues identified by the taskforce. Equally, we are discussing with the police service the best way to measure the taskforce's impact. My hon. Friend is absolutely right—we need to develop an effective measure that indicates to us and to the public how we are gaining greater visibility and more officer hours on the front line as a result of these and other changes. When we have completed that work, we will publish that indicator for the police service.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point

Will the Minister tell us when the new computer systems in respect of arrest and taking into custody will be available for use in the service?

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

The case and custody system, to which I think the hon. Gentleman refers, is being successfully trialled in Warwickshire. I hope that, during the three years from next April, the system will be rolled out across the police service. We are looking in detail at the deadlines and timetables, but that is the time scale towards which we are working.

Photo of Fiona Mactaggart Fiona Mactaggart Labour, Slough

Has my right hon. Friend seen a piece of paperwork that is doing more to reduce the number of police officers on the streets of Slough than any other? It is an advertisement, issued by the Metropolitan police, showing a photograph of two terraced houses, both of which are occupied by police officers. The rubric states the following about the occupiers:

XBoth in their late 20s, both became police officers 6 years ago. One earns #22k a year and pays to travel to work and one earns #29k a year and travels to work for free."

What can the Minister do to help those police forces on the periphery of London whose members are being poached by the Metropolitan Police Authority? In the case of Slough, such activities are leading to an increase in crime in precisely those areas that we are targeting for reduction.

Photo of John Denham John Denham Minister (Home Office) (Police and Crime Reduction)

I have not seen the advertisement to which my hon. Friend refers, but if that is what it says, that is not the way in which forces should compete for police officers. A few years ago, an agreement was reached and police forces did not attempt to recruit from each other's areas. At the instigation of the Association of Chief Police Officers, that was changed some time ago, when it was agreed that such recruitment exercises be carried out. However, it is essential that they be conducted in a responsible manner.