The Sun: Police Officers in Red Tape Hell

Friday, 14 September, 2007

POLICE officers are so mired in red tape that they risk spending more time recording crimes than solving them, a report warned yesterday.

Cops are also forced to investigate petty offences such as playground fights to hit Government targets — instead of concentrating on bigger crimes.

Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who wrote the damning report, said a culture change was needed to cut 'excess bureaucracy'.

He added that fear of making mistakes led officers to 'over-record and under-deliver'. In the interim report of his Review of Policing, he said: 'We risk diverting officers' priorities to recording crimes, rather than getting out on the streets solving them and preventing them.'

Bobbies' union the Police Federation said logging a simple shop-lifting case could take up to FIVE HOURS. The Tories and Lib Dems claimed officers spent less than a fifth of their shifts on the beat.

Shadow police minister David Ruffley said: 'Our police are form writers now, not crime fighters.' Sir Ronnie said ministers should set a target to cut red tape and proposed axing 'stop' forms, filed every time a cop questions someone on the street.

Last year, he revealed, one force spent 32,916 hours filling them in — equal to the hours of 16 full-time officers.

Other recommendations included letting cops exercise their own judgment more.

PM Gordon Brown, at a citizens' jury in Leicester, pledged to cut bureaucracy.

He said using hand-held computers to send information back to the station could cut paperwork by 99 minutes a shift.