The Daily Mail: Pen Pusher Police Spend Less Time Than Ever On Patrol

Wednesday, 12 December, 2007

Police officers are spending more time filling in forms and less patrolling the streets - despite Government promises to stop them being hampered by red tape.

Official figures reveal that 19.7 per cent of their working day is spent on bureaucracy such as filing crime reports, preparing for court, writing letters and sending memos.

Only 13.6 per cent is spent on patrol, according to 'depressing' statistics uncovered by the Tories. In 2004-05, these figures were 18.4 per cent and 14 per cent.

The Government said the amount of time officers were on 'frontline' duties, which includes catching and interviewing criminals as well as patrolling, had increased from 50.8 per cent.

from 62.6 per cent to 64.2 per cent. But this includes time spent filling in crime reports - and when that is deducted, it falls to just

Critics said this figure, calculated from the Home Office answers given to Parliament, was a 'scandalous' indictment of the red tape weighing down police forces.

It is the equivalent of 72,600 of the country's 143,000 officers never spending a minute on frontline duties.

The figures, slipped out yesterday, are deeply embarrassing for the Government, as former Home Secretaries David Blunkett and John Reid both promised to torch unnecessary bureaucracy.

David Ruffley , the Tory police spokesman, said: 'After ten years, five Labour Home Secretaries and five red tape reviews, the police still spend more time filling in forms than pounding the streets.'

Ministers have spent millions on community support officers to deal with low-level crime and reduce form-filling. But police must spend up to ten minutes filling in paperwork every time they simply 'stop' a suspect. A mugging or assault involves up to 33 forms.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: 'This government's mania for targets and form filling has turned thousands of police officers into pen-pushers for the state.'

Alan Gordon of the Police Federation said: 'We hear a lot of rhetoric about ending its target-driven obsessions but not much action.'

Police minister Tony McNulty said: 'Time spent on patrol refers only to time when an officer is patrolling but engaged in no other duty. It is therefore inappropriate to look at this element in isolation from other activities.

'The front-line policing measure provides a fuller picture because it assesses time spent on core policing duties such as patrol and responding to 999 calls, as well as activities of CID and specialist officers.'