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Beds police defend 'worst' performance

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Bedfordshire police have defended their performance after national statistics revealed the force to be the overall weakest in England and Wales.

The force gained three 'poor' and four 'fair' ratings in seven categories.

This compared to Lancashire and Surrey, which gained four and five 'excellent' ratings respectively.

A statement from Bedfordshire police said it has already taken issues to address aspects of what it described as yesterday's "disappointing" government report.

The force drew attention to sub-categories in which it was praised, including tackling violent crime and the fairness of stopping and searching minority ethnic groups.

Chief Constable Gillian Parker said: "We are not dwelling on [the report] and instead are concentrating on a continual programme of improvements aimed at providing the residents of Bedfordshire with the service they deserve."

Best and worst performing forces revealed

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said overall police performance in forces across England and Wales has improved over the last year.

Highlights include three-quarters of forces receiving a 'good' or 'excellent' grading on tackling crime and an increase in victim satisfaction with police.

"We have invested to strengthen the police and that has delivered real improvements for the public," Mr McNulty said. "We can now build on that and continue to drive up performance."

But shadow home secretary David Davis raised concerns that the amount of time police spend on the front line "has stayed stagnant" due to continuing red tape.

"We should also not forget that the definition of 'frontline' policing is not one the public would recognise - It includes paperwork. We know that in reality a police officer spends less than a fifth of his or her time actually on the beat," he said.

"In any case it is hard to draw other conclusions about police performance while a plethora of government targets and diktats continue to distort police priorities."

Jan Berry, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, added: "It is disappointing to see that police officers are still spending large amounts of time in the station dealing with mountains of paperwork; we have waited far too long for the IT solutions promised to cut down on bureaucracy which will allow us to get on with the job of policing on the streets."

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