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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Top police recruits to be fast-tracked
Police recruits at Hendon Training College
Recruits could be superintendents within five years
Home Secretary David Blunkett has outlined plans to speed up the promotion of high-flying police recruits.

In a speech to the Police Superintendents' Association (PSA) conference in Warwick, Mr Blunkett said that the scheme could see the most able officers becoming superintendents within five years.

"What [Mr Blunkett] has been doing is painting the picture of police modernisation which we all support

Fred Broughton
Police Federation
He said he hoped that a bill aimed at reforming the police would reflect ideas already agreed between the service and the government.

But Fred Broughton, the chairman of the Police Federation, gave Mr Blunkett's speech a mixed welcome saying that more detail was needed about the reforms.

Mr Blunkett stressed the importance of good leadership and cutting bureaucracy to the conference.

The proposals to fast-track the cream of police recruits have met opposition among some police organisations, but senior officers accept changes are inevitable.

Performance indicators

Under existing rules, police officers have to spend two years as uniformed constables before they are eligible for promotion.

It would normally take at least 15 years for a recruit to reach the rank of superintendent in charge of a division.

Home Secretary David Blunkett
David Blunkett believes a modern police force needs modern management
Mr Blunkett's "fast track" proposals would sweep away restrictions and enable the "brightest and best" to be identified early.

He believes a modern police service needs modern management practices.

In his second major speech on police reform, Mr Blunkett said that he intended to cut performance indicators by nearly a half and make them more simple for the public to understand.

He wants the public to feel they are getting the best service from the police.

White Paper

Other reforms include a new unit to monitor standards and spread best practice in the service.

Mr Blunkett also gave details of his plans for an extended "police family" which will include traffic wardens and security staff.

Mr Broughton, who was at the TUC's conference in Brighton, said: "What [Mr Blunkett] has been doing is painting the picture of police modernisation which we all support."

What was not clear was just how much involvement was planned for the private sector in policing matters, he said.

Mr Broughton stressed opposition to the idea of private security firms being allowed to sport police badges whilst giving his support, within certain strict restrictions, to private community wardens.

Later Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme: "I think that having the extended police family without eroding in any way our commitment to recruiting and retaining fully qualified, fully operational police officers just makes sense and what I'd like people to do is to relax a little, talk to us - lets get it right."

Meanwhile, PSA president, Chief Superintendent Kevin Morris, has attacked performance indicators as "collecting statistics for the sake of statistics".

But the home secretary, who previously held the job of education secretary, said he recognised that league tables, such as those used in schools, could not be appropriately applied to the police.

He said he understood that different police forces faced different challenges but insisted that where new ideas were shown to be successful then they could be copied elsewhere.

"Some areas are performing excellently but others are not," he said.

"We must address that unevenness of performance so that no matter where they live the public can expect the same quality of service.

Postcode lottery

"It is simply not acceptable in 21st century Britain that the quality of policing depends on which community you live in."

Mr Morris is also concerned about the reputation of the service and how it has been damaged in recent years.

Mr Blunkett's speech coincides with the publication of a document entitled Policing in the 21st Century which will provide the basis of a White Paper to be published later this year.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett reveals police reform plans
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