Government crime-fighting targets are a shambles and should be scrapped, claims Chief Superintendent, Ian Johnston. Mr Johnston


Government crime-fighting targets are a shambles and should be scrapped, claims Chief Superintendent, Ian Johnston. Mr Johnston was speaking ahead of the Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference, when he asked the police minister to scrap the current targets regime. ‘I believe we should abolish the performance framework in its entirety,’ Mr Johnston said. ‘It sounds radical, but it would be very warmly welcomed by the police service and would allow us, the professionals, to make judgements. We want to reclaim policing for the police.’ He added: ‘Centrally imposed targets are preventing senior police officers from delivering the policing that the public wants and deserves. We need to restore discretion to senior police officers enabling them to make decisions that relate to local policing issues, ensuring that we deliver a high standard of quality policing.’
The leaders of rank-and-file police officers have made a similar demand to reverse the targetdriven culture that has forced them to make ‘ludicrous’ decisions such as a case where a child was arrested for throwing cream buns at a bus. The Police Federation said judging officers purely on how many arrests, cautions or on-the-spot fines they can deliver was making a mockery of the criminal justice system. The drive to meet Whitehall performance targets was compelling officers to criminalize middle England, they added.
The organization published a dossier of ridiculous cases they claimed resulted from Home Office targets placed on beat bobbies. The cases included a Cheshire man who was cautioned by police for being found in possession of an egg with intent to throw and a West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage to a car park barrier when her foot slipped on her accelerator. Today, Mr Johnston said, ‘current Home Office targets have made some senior officers seriously ill from the stress of managing a wide range of competing demands. More than 70 per cent of basic command unit commanders believe national targets have had a negative impact on service delivery. We are obliged to count everything and in order to account for our performance we are not addressing a lot of the issues that the public see as far more important.’ He added: ‘The time has come for someone to say that the performance framework and the red tape and the bureaucracy have got to go. The government’s focus on volume crime targets is skewing all police activity in a way that our members see as increasingly dysfunctional.’
1 How might the dysfunctional effects of the performance system in the police force be minimized?

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