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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Met chief wants to cut red tape
Police officers
The Home Office said it was looking at ways to reduce bureaucracy
Sir Ian Blair, Britain's top policeman, has attacked the "ridiculous" levels of bureaucracy faced by officers.

The Met Police chief, making a speech on criminal justice reforms, said a revamp was needed to get officers "out on the streets where they belong".

It comes the day after Home Office ratings of police showed the amount of time spent by officers on the frontline had risen by less than 1% year-on-year.

The Home Office said a review on how best to cut tape was under way.

A spokesman said: "The government is committed to reducing bureaucracy for police officers and staff. This is why we have commissioned Sir Ronnie Flanagan to review four key areas of policing including bureaucracy."

Bureaucracy 'bonfire'

Annual ratings of police forces in England and Wales, released on Tuesday, revealed that the amount of time and money spent on frontline policing increased less than 1% year-on-year in the previous set of figures - from 62.3% to 63.2%.

In his speech, Sir Ian, the Metropolitan Police commissioner, said: "What we need is a bonfire on to which we throw the unnecessary regulation of policing and investigation in a measured way."

He told the Criminal Justice Management Conference, in London, that as a constable in the 1970s he could arrest and process three criminals in a single shift, whereas it would now take two officers a whole shift to process just one.

Sir Ian described this situation as "absolutely ridiculous".

On bureaucracy, the Met chief said existing rules - particularly those which have increased the role of the prosecutors - placed a huge burden on officers.

We have already delivered real improvements in policing and made great strides in our efforts to reduce bureaucracy
Home Office spokesman

Performance targets for the Crown Prosecution Service punished prosecutors who allowed a charge which did not end in conviction, he said.

"This means that prosecutors constantly seek far more evidence than is necessary to make a charging decision, which wastes a lot more time," Sir Ian told delegates.

However, the Home Office stressed that its current review of ways to reduce bureaucracy was yielding results, particularly in the use of technology to "make processes more efficient".

"We are running pilots throughout the country on different kinds of technology - from mobile fingerprint machines to handheld devices that can receive information from the Police National Computer," said a Home Office spokesman.

"We have already delivered real improvements in policing and made great strides in our efforts to reduce bureaucracy."



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