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With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to group this question with Question 22.
Order. I have had no indication of that grouping. There is a practice now developing of this happening spontaneously. It really will not do. We shall see how it goes today. I call the Minister.
I thank the Minister for his answer. Recent statistics demonstrate that police spend 14% of their time on patrol and 20% on paperwork. Will he give an example of what administrative function might be cut from their work, so that we can give them the opportunity to spend more time out on the beat?
The most important example is the policy we have had for a long time: scrapping the unnecessary stop form, whose introduction made it harder for police forces to interact sensibly with the public, and resulted in a great deal of unnecessary bureaucracy. However, we will not stop at that, but will look at the whole performance framework and the central targets that have bedevilled policing for too long. We will free up police officers, so that they can do the job.
Given that the Minister wishes to free up police officers to spend more time on the beat, and given the recent survey that predicts 35,000 fewer police officers on the beat, what assessment has he made of how many administrative tasks he will have to scrap to maintain an appropriate and effective police presence?
I should say to the hon. Gentleman that we do not recognise those figures. Our policy is that we want to do everything possible to enable chief constables to prioritise the front line and maintain police officers out in the neighbourhoods, where the public want to see them. To do that, we must ensure that we reduce bureaucracy.
Order. No blame is imputed to Stuart Andrew. It is simply that the grouping of his question with Question 19 was not something of which I had notice, and it is not a grouping to which I would ordinarily agree, for reasons of progress down the Order Paper.