MP backs move to free police from Government's grip

September 24, 2008 1:54 PM

Plans to free Cambridgeshire Police from the grip of central government bureaucracy and targets have been backed by Cambridge MP David Howarth.

Mr Howarth, Shadow Justice Minister, claims police officers would be freed to spend more time policing communities rather than chasing government targets.

The proposals were launched by Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne and were debated at the party's autumn conference in Bournemouth.

"The police have to be free to police our local communities," said Mr Howarth. "Constant interference and targets from Whitehall do little to catch criminals and deter crime.

"Cambridgeshire Police are far better placed than a Government minister in Whitehall to decide what are the local priorities.

"The proposals also call for police authorities to be elected by local people, rather than appointed by ministers. That will mean policing priorities are under the control of local people.

"We are committed to a review of outdated working practices in the police. Centralised targets are clearly getting in the way of effective local policing."

The plans were revealed under a motion, "Cutting Crime by Catching Criminals", which addressed the public's distrust of crime statistics and the high fear of crime.

It called for:

• 10,000 more police officers on the streets paid for by scrapping the ID card scheme and the use of neighbourhood policing;

• an end to centralised targets that distort local police priorities;

• police forces to be accountable to elected authorities which are able to defend local priorities, set budgets and vary taxes where necessary;

• chief officers to be answerable for their force's performance;

• faith to be restored in crime figures by placing them under the supervision of the Office of National Statistics;

• hot-spot policing to boost detection rates;

• a significant reduction in police paperwork.

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