Concern in South Yorkshire over controversial league tables for police forces

Concerns have been raised in South Yorkshire over a proposal for league tables which would rank police forces on their success at reducing serious crimes.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:00 am

Home Secretary Priti Patel is reported to be drawing up plans for league tables that would rank police forces on their success in cutting serious crime.

According to The Times newspaper, police chiefs have been told they will be measured in their success in cutting six crime types – including murder, serious violence and cybercrime.

The Home Office would compare their performance against national benchmarks in what it said was a ‘relentless focus on cutting crime’.

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The South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation has raised concerns about new targets for forces

But the plan has been criticised by the South Yorkshire branch of the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers.

Chairman Steve Kent said policing may end up focusing more on statistics than the quality of its service to the public.

He said the plan could lead to forces worrying about statistics and climbing the league tables rather than how best to protect communities.

He said: “It’s a big no from me. We already have this, in my view, because Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services already ranks forces.

“Leagues tables can drive inappropriate culture. It’s something the force is actively trying to address in terms of culture because what we have seen sometimes in the past is that statistics take precedence when it should be about quality of service.

“The force recognises that, it’s saying ‘yes, we need to get the numbers right, but we also need to make sure that we’re providing a quality service’, and we have been firmly behind that as the Federation.

“I just worry that this would potentially undo that across the board, and you’ll then see inappropriate practices coming in.

“If the league table is measuring stop and search, people end up being stopped and searched inappropriately. If it measures arrests, people might get arrested when they possibly wouldn’t have been in other circumstances.

“I think it would drive improper practice across the country, not just in our force, and I don’t think it’s a good thing at all.”

He added: “You cannot have a situation where you measure public bodies like this because it creates a bad atmosphere, and it’s the type of behaviour that we should be moving away from, not moving towards.

“Every force needs to be inspected; every force needs to be scrutinised, of course they do, but don’t then turn it into a competition.

“South Yorkshire Police is grossly underfunded, so how can we be measured against a force that might have a significantly higher budget than us and we’re expected to maintain their levels of performance?

“It’s not right, and it’s setting forces up to fail – I’m massively against the plan.”

In a letter seen by The Times, Police Minister Kit Malthouse said that the measures would provide ‘national accountability and collective responsibility’ while supporting and challenging forces.

National benchmarks would be based on traditional data such as recorded crime, as well as new measures including the number of police referrals into drug treatment programmes and hospital admissions for youth stabbings.

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