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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 13:05 GMT
Street crime to top police priorities
Police on the beat
Some concern has been expressed over the plan
Fighting street crime, burglary and violence are the top priorities set for police forces in England and Wales over the next year.

Home Secretary David Blunkett gave details of the priorities as he unveiled the first ever National Policing Plan - spelling out the key aims for all 43 forces in the UK.

The plan spells out objectives for all forces but Mr Blunkett denied the move amounted to setting up a national police force.

Other key priorities include drug-related crime, car crime and anti-social behaviour, Mr Blunkett said.

Speaking to local police authorities in Harrogate, he said the plan was aimed at tackling the crimes which most blight people's lives.

'Consensus'

It was a "a working document, not a wish-list, informing local plans and putting people at the heart of policing", he added.

Plan's key areas
Street crime
Anti-social behaviour
Drug-related crime
Burglary
Car crime

"It is part of wider government reforms essential to reducing crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime, and balancing justice in favour of victims."

Earlier, Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that consensus had been reached on the priorities at local level.

Police funding is due to be increased by 5.4% in 2003-2004, bringing it up to 9.6m, to help carry out the changes.

But reaction to the plan has been mixed.

The Association of Police Authorities chairman, Dr Ruth Henig, called it a "landmark for the police service" which would spark discussions with local communities to build "robust local policing plans".

Chris Fox, vice-president of the Association for Chief Police Officers, said his organisation supported the idea of the plan, but doubted its achievability.

"The plan may not succeed due to its wide ranging ambition and absence of consideration of the police ability to deliver," he said.

"We are concerned that the national plan suggests over 50 actions and priorities that should be included in local planning with little space for flexibility."

Home Secretary David Blunkett
David Blunkett is keen to give all police forces a blueprint

Jan Berry, chairman of the Police Federation, told BBC News that although the government was right to steer the way policing was delivered, there should be room for individual forces to decide their own needs "locally".

She added there were other important areas of policing being done locally which could not be so easily counted.

"It is vital we do not lose these things from the plan," she said.

General priorities

The Conservatives have suggested the government is trying to set up a national force.

But Mr Blunkett contrasted that stance with Tory demands that he "impose New York-style policing" in the UK.

Each key priority included in the document, brought in by this year's Police Reform Act, must be reflected in police forces' local plans.

Rather than setting specific targets, it sets out general priorities.

One of the aims of the project is to recognise successful initiatives which can then be adopted across police forces.

This year has already seen an unprecedented attack on street crime by the government.

From April to September, robberies and snatch thefts fell 16% across 10 targeted police forces.

The number of robbery offences was down 10% compared to the same period last year.

The government spent 67m on the initiative and is keen to keep up the momentum.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"On the ground there are concerns about too much central control"
See also:

18 Sep 02 | Cracking Crime
12 Jul 02 | UK
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