Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 00:45 UK

Northern Constabulary 'failing to meet' crime targets

Police uniform
Northern Constabulary has 800 officers

A police force has failed to meet most of its targets for reducing crime, according to a report by inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland also said Northern Constabulary had seen an increase in reported violent crimes.

The force was also urged to answer more 999 emergency calls within the target time.

Northern Constabulary said the report showed it had been successful in putting "more bobbies on the beat".

The inspectorate carried out a best value audit and inspection of the force which revealed it had a detection rate of 63% in 2008-09 - the second highest in Scotland.

Everyone talks about reducing bureaucracy and putting more bobbies on the beat and this report shows that Northern Constabulary is doing just that
Chief Constable Ian Latimer
Northern Constabulary

But it also stated: "Over the past year, the force has not met the majority of its own yearly crime reduction targets."

The report said there had been a 5.8% increase in reported crimes of violence in 2008-09 and added: "This included increases in serious assault, threats and extortion, cruelty and unnatural treatment of children and possession of firearms."

While the force succeeded in significantly reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents, it has not met its target of increasing the number of drink and drug drivers who are brought to justice by 5%.

The number of recorded offences for drink driving actually fell by 8% in 2008-09 to 796, the report said.

The report also said Northern Constabulary had "made progress" towards meeting the national target of answering 90% of 999 calls within 10 seconds, with 86.8% answered within that time.

But it pointed out the area was "still the only force in Scotland not to achieve this".

Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary Bill Skelly said that Northern Constabulary was "performing well" overall.

'National targets'

He stated: "A recent force review has led to a significant restructuring and the resources this freed up went towards frontline policing."

However, he added: "The force could make changes in some areas. It should improve its performance monitoring and make sure it better shares the information, and it should concentrate on meeting national targets for call handling and the submission of reports to the Procurator Fiscal and Children's Reporter."

Northern Constabulary Chief Constable Ian Latimer said efforts to spend more on frontline policing had been recognised in the review.

Mr Latimer said the force had transferred £1.6m to frontline policing services from "back office" departments, which allowed it to increase its number of officers from 700 in 2008 to 800 this year.

The chief constable added: "Everyone talks about reducing bureaucracy and putting more bobbies on the beat and this report shows that Northern Constabulary is doing just that."

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