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Theresa May unveils most radical police reforms "in at least fifty years"

By Tim Montgomerie

Screen shot 2010-07-27 at 06.00.15In the Commons yesterday, sat alongside police reform minister Nick Herbert, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled what she described as "the most radical reforms to policing in at least 50 years."

Key extracts are republished below:

The problem: "For too long the police have become disconnected from the communities that they serve, been bogged down by bureaucracy and answered to distant politicians instead of to the people. Crime remains too high, too many families and communities suffer from antisocial behaviour and barely half the public are confident that important local issues are dealt with. Meanwhile, the challenges that we face have changed. Terrorism, the growth in serious and organised crime and cybercrime all require new approaches that cross not just police force boundaries, but international borders."

Remedy one, devolution of power: "We will introduce directly elected police and crime commissioners by 2012. The commissioners will set the police budget, determine police force priorities and have the power to hire and, where necessary, fire their chief constable."

[On ConservativeHome yesterday, Blair Gibbs of Policy Exchange made the case for directly-elected police chiefs].

Remedy two, transparency: "To help the public hold their local police to account, we will publish local crime data and mandate local beat meetings so that people can challenge the performance of their neighbourhood policing teams."

Remedy three, less paperwork: "Front-line staff will no longer be form writers; they will be crime fighters, freed from bureaucracy and central guidance and trusted to get on with their jobs. We have scrapped the policing pledge. We have got rid of the confidence target. We will restore police discretion over charging decisions for particular offences. We will limit the reporting requirements for "stop and search" and we will scrap the "stop" form in its entirety."

Remedy four, a Home Office focused on strategic national challenges, not micro-management: "As the Home Affairs Committee noted during the previous Parliament, the previous Government tried to micro-manage local policing but failed to support forces effectively on national issues, so we will build on the work of the Serious Organised Crime Agency to create a more powerful national crime agency, which will tackle organised crime and protect our borders."

Remedy five, procurement reform: "We will make the police more efficient at force, regional and national levels so that front-line local policing can be sustained. To this end, we are already consulting separately on police procurement regulations to get better value for taxpayers' money."

Remedy six, more public involvement in crime fighting: "We will also do more to encourage active citizens to become special constables, community crime fighters and members of neighbourhood watch groups."



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