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Sunday, 2 December, 2001, 04:54 GMT
Plan to reform 'failing' police
Police officer
Exceptional officers on the beat could receive bonuses
Failing police forces could be taken over by the government in a radical shake-up of the way the service is run, it is reported.

Plans expected to be published by Home Secretary David Blunkett this week also include the creation of league tables, allowing forces to be compared by the public on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis.

According to The Observer, a major expansion of the number of voluntary and special constables will be accompanied by a pledge to increase the number of uniformed officers to a record 130,000 by spring 2003.

Mr Blunkett told the paper present detection and conviction rates for crime were "appallingly low".

He said: "That is demoralising for the police and it is totally bewildering for people in the local neighbourhoods most affected. Their rights matter."

Beat bonuses

The changes are likely to set Mr Blunkett at odds with senior police officers, but the home secretary made it clear he was ready for a fight.

There is a big missing factor on the liberal left and that is that we have forgotten crime and disorder and the misery that this brings

David Blunkett
He condemned the 24% detection rate and a 9% conviction rate and said wide differences between areas were unacceptable.

Mr Blunkett's White Paper is thought to contain plans for Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary and the Home Office Standards Unit to take over the running of forces which fail to meet required standards.

The proposals, including the possibility of league tables, echo changes made to the way schools were run when Mr Blunkett was education secretary.

Home Secretary David Blunkett
David Blunkett wants league tables to compare forces
In a separate interview with the Mail on Sunday Mr Blunkett said bonuses of up to 3,000-a-year could be paid to exceptional officers prepared to remain on the beat.

He said: "We want to acknowledge the work done by uniformed police - that means those who want to do the lousy shifts on Friday and Saturday nights in those town centres where there are disturbances as the pubs and clubs shut."

Social agenda

Mr Blunkett said the impact of crime on ordinary people was unacceptable and had been neglected for too long.

"There is a big missing factor on the liberal left and that is that we have forgotten crime and disorder and the misery that this brings," he said.

"Tackling crime is part of the social renewal agenda. We have often quite rightly talked about education, health and the minimum wage.

"But we haven't said the thing that really bedevils people in the most disadvantaged areas is crime."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"A showdown is now almost inevitable"
See also:

29 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Police anger over Blunkett reforms
12 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Blunkett reveals police reform plans
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Top police recruits to be fast-tracked
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