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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 20:45 GMT
Policing report targets red tape
Police officer
Policing needs a shift in priorities and perspective, Sir Ronnie will say
The time and money wasted on police red tape could put 3,000 more officers on the streets, according to a police reform report due out this week.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan's year-long review will say up to six million police hours a year are wasted on bureaucracy.

A leaked version seen by the BBC also says police forces target less serious crimes to boost performance figures.

Sir Ronnie, the chief inspector of constabulary in England and Wales, will publish a full report on Thursday.

He will call for a shift in priorities and perspective, including an end to the lengthy form officers have to fill in whenever they stop someone for questioning - which would be replaced by a business card.

Lacking in confidence

But the report says a more formal process is still needed when police also conduct a search.

Sir Ronnie, the former head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, carried out an independent review in his capacity as senior policing adviser to the home secretary.

This is the fifth review of police red tape in as many years, and the key now is delivering not promising
Chris Huhne
Lib Dems

He will say the police service overall is lacking in confidence, accountability and common sense, the BBC has learned.

It confirms findings outlined in his interim report last September, which said police were bogged down by bureaucracy and afraid to use their own judgement.

Ministers will respond when the report is published later this week but it is expected to be followed by a Home Office green paper.

Tough enough?

But the Conservatives said it did not go far enough. Shadow police minister David Ruffley said: "It copies our pledge to abolish the 'stop and account' form.

"But it does not follow our pledge to abolish the 40 question stop-and-search form and allow officers to radio in the basic details of a search which will be digitally recorded."

And he said the report "shies away from" other Tory proposals for a national set of slimmed down forms.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "This is the fifth review of police red tape in as many years, and the key now is delivering not promising.

"Anyone who has been out on patrol with the police knows that there are enormous savings from using IT and cutting out unnecessary duplication and bureaucracy.

"Let's hope Sir Ronnie's review is the trigger for finally making it happen".

Last week both Labour and the Conservatives called for greater use of stop and search powers to bring down gun and knife crime.

Tory leader David Cameron condemned the "stop and account" forms as a "colossal waste of police time".

The forms were meant to monitor whether ethnic minorities were being unfairly targeted and the actions of individual police officers.

But Mr Cameron said black and Asian communities were suffering the most from knife and gun crime and said concern about a return to "sus" laws - one of the factors behind inner city riots in the early 1980s - were misplaced.



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