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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 12:54 GMT
Police move to ignore minor crime
Vandalism would no longer be a matter for police, under new plans
Police should stop responding to small-scale call-outs such as arguments between neighbours and minor car accidents, senior officers have said.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpos) argued the move would cut bureaucracy.

A police report has focussed on problems such as vandalism, parking disputes and fires in which nobody is injured.

The study says police time is not being used effectively.

It stresses that dealing with minor problems is a drain on resources.

Instead, top police officers want specially-trained community support officers to deal with low-level incidents.

The executive should start addressing the real issue of getting more bobbies on the beat
Nicola Sturgeon MSP
Scottish National Party

They say this would reduce paperwork, free up police time, and allow them to put more bobbies on the beat.

Spokesman David Mellor said: "We want to ensure we deploy police resources intelligently so we can do things the public feel are most important to them, such as seeing more police officers in uniform on patrol."

The Scottish Executive said it supported any moves to slash red tape and make police more visible in communities.

A spokesman said: "We are in regular contact with Acpos on a range of matters, and are working with them to keep police bureaucracy to a minimum.

"Policy on deployment of police officers is of course a matter for chief constables."

But senior Scottish National Party figures are concerned incidents may escalate if police officers are not present to deal with them.

Political row

Holyrood group leader Nicola Sturgeon said: "This also raises questions about the level of responsibility that will be given to community wardens to cope with the added workload.

"We all know that the police are overstretched already and the executive should start addressing the real issue of getting more bobbies on the beat."

Conservatives insist a zero tolerance crackdown is the only effective way of dealing with crime.

Spokeswoman Annabel Goldie said: "This has proved to be tremendously successful in New York where every crime is prosecuted and the result has been a sharp decline in the crime rates.

"Obviously we need police in our communities to carry this through so we need a bit more ambition from this lacklustre Labour-Lib Dem executive."

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