Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Government Targets Divert Police From Serious Cases to Deal With Trivial Crimes

The Police Federation of England and Wales says government targets lead to "ludicrous" decisions and warns that detectives are being diverted from serious cases to deal with trivial crimes.

The federation will debate the issue during its annual conference in Blackpool. At the conference police will discuss whether judging officers purely on numbers of arrests, cautions or on-the-spot fines is the best way to assess success. After reading examples from a dossier of "ludicrous" cases it claims are the result of Home Office targets, clearly it is not.

The following are actual cases detailed in the dossier.

A man from Cheshire who was cautioned for being "found in possession of an egg with intent to throw"

A child in Kent who was arrested after removing a slice of cucumber from a sandwich and throwing it at another youngster

A West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage after her foot slipped on her accelerator pedal and her vehicle damaged a car park barrier

A 70-year-old Cheshire pensioner who was arrested for criminal damage after cutting back a neighbour's conifer trees

A federation spokesman said these cases were a direct result of officers being "so busy chasing targets and securing ticks in boxes". The list of compiled cases showed incidents where officers had been "under such pressure to deliver it has resulted in an arrest or caution when even the officer themselves thinks it is ludicrous", he said . It is not surprising even the officers themselves thought the arrests/cautions ludicrous. They seem more appropriate as part of my Absurd News of the Week than in a police federation dossier.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said Whitehall targets were "stopping the police from doing what the public want them to do". He added, "Conservatives would free the police from Labour's red tape so they can be deployed onto our streets where the public want them."

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