Administrative Burdens (Police)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 6th February 2012.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay 2:30 pm, 6th February 2012

What plans she has to reduce administrative burdens on police forces.

Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

We have already announced a package of policies to reduce bureaucracy, saving up to 3.3 million hours of police time.

Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

Published reports confirm that under the previous Government only 11% of police officers were visible and/or available to the public at any one time. May I therefore urge my right hon. Friend to continue hacking away at the swathes of bureaucratic paperwork and release more officers for the front line?

Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

We will do so, and I agree with my hon. Friend. We know from the inspectorate’s report that the level of availability and visibility of officers in the poorest performing forces was half that of the best. So there is room for improvement, even as resources decline, if the front line is prioritised, and the reductions in bureaucracy that we have announced will save 1,500 hours of officer time, showing how important the agenda is.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Labour, Manchester Central

The Minister would get support for proper cutbacks in unnecessary bureaucracy, but does he accept that some things that are described as bureaucracy are necessary protections for the public and, importantly, for serving police officers?

Photo of Nick Herbert Nick Herbert Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

In relation to my previous answer, I should have said 1,500 police jobs and 3.3 million hours of officer time.

We cannot defend the existing system on the basis that bureaucracy is important. Over recent years, there has been a huge growth in unnecessary red tape and box ticking as a consequence of the top-down direction of policing under the previous Government. We need accountable policing, but we need also to ensure that police officers are free to do the job and are trusted as professionals to exercise their judgment. That is the agenda we are pursuing.