MP goes on attack over time spent doing paperwork

Tuesday, 17 February, 2009

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has gone on the attack after figures showed police are spending less time on the beat and more time on paperwork.

The shadow minister for police reform accused the Government of a 'cover-up' for refusing to publish up-to-date data on the amount of time police spend on patrol.

Dedicated patrol officers spend less than fifth of their shift on the streets, according to official statistics.

The figures emerged as Jan Berry, the former Police Federation chairman, prepared to publish her interim report to ministers on ways to cut police red tape.

She will recommend the creation of a panel of officers to analyse new policies and their impact on paperwork.

Mr Ruffley said: 'As Jan Berry's report Reducing Bureaucracy is published, it is a disgrace that, after several years of publishing data on the amount of time that police officers spend on patrol, Home Office Ministers now refuse to publish these figures at all.'

Home Office figures showed patrol officers spent 18% of their shift on patrol in 2006/7, a fall of nearly 1% from 2003/4.

Their paperwork burden rose from 16.4% in 2004/5 to 17.1% two years later.

For all officers the total amount of time spent on paperwork increased by 1.3% over two years to 19.7% in 2006/7. At the same time the total amount of time spent on patrol fell from 15.3% to 13.6%.

Yesterday, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced she would scrap an annual police survey which requires about half of all officers to document every 15 minutes of their working day over a two-week period. Officials estimate the change will free up nearly 150 police officers and staff.