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HOME SECRETARY TELLS POLICE - YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

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In an upbeat message to the police, home secretary David Blunkett ...
In an upbeat message to the police, home secretary David Blunkett

has pledged his support for the difficult job officers do at his

second reform summit with police chiefs.

He promised to help the police make a real difference to the lives of

people most beleaguered by yobbish behaviour and drug-related crime,

and set out proposals to boost the effectiveness of measures against

anti-social behaviour - in particular, to update and slim down, the

procedure for gaining anti-social behaviour orders.

Mr Blunkett told police chiefs yesterday that police reform was on track and

that through clear and decisive leadership, a partnership approach

coupled with innovative thinking, it was within their grasp to

improve the lives of individuals and to see dramatic improvements in

fighting crime.

Mr Blunkett was joined by former New York police commissioner, Bill

Bratton to reinforce the message that leadership can deliver results.

He said:

'Reform and reward go hand in hand. Increased opportunity for pay,

accelerated promotion and resources targeted at those in the most

difficult or community orientated jobs is an essential part of

restoring both confidence in and results for the police.

'The government has delivered on investment, recruitment - with

record numbers of police officers - additional powers and a renewed

emphasis on partnership so that crime reduction and anti-social

behaviour can be shared.

'I strongly support the hard work and dedication that police men and

women do day in and day out. I am committed to slimming down

bureaucracy, halving the number of performance indicators, getting

more officers out in to the community and visible to the public and

backing them up with the equipment, improved conditions and

additional support they deserve.

'Tackling anti-social behaviour on housing estates and on the streets

of the most difficult areas is key to addressing the fear of crime

and reinforcing the task of communities to build securer and safer

neighbourhoods.'

The home secretary told his audience that what had been achieved in

New York, in driving down crime and restoring confidence, could be

achieved here not in exactly the same way, not using precisely the

same methods but tailored to the specific conditions of Britain in

2002. Inspirational leadership, clear goals, determination and of

course, the backing of the politicians to get it right.

'That is why we are offering that support in new proposals to tackle

anti-social behaviour, reforming the criminal justice system,

supporting and enabling officers to gain and to make more convictions

stick.'

The proposals being considered in respect of anti-social behaviour

orders, a fast track to civil legal action against those committing

disorder in the community, include:

- An interim anti-social behaviour order - to enable immediate action

to be taken prior to going through the full process. The order would

be made at the first court appearance, pending a full hearing. This

would enable the community to be protected from a persistent offender

without delay.

- An anti-social behaviour order which would 'travel' with the person

on whom it is served. This will tackle the problem of people moving

to other areas and resuming their anti-social behaviour.

- Looking to extend the scope of the orders by allowing registered

social landlords and the British Transport Police, to apply. Both

will be required to consult the local authority quickly and simply,

as well as the police, in the area in which the behaviour has

occurred.

- Exploring with the lord chancellor's department to see if there

might be a role for county courts in making orders, for example where

the court is dealing with applications for evictions or injunctions.

- Proposals to tackle variations in detection rates between forces,

and give support to staff and police through the new powers and

increased visibility of uniformed officers - using the Standards Unit

to ensure that differences in performance are ironed out.

The anti-social behaviour order proposals and powers announced in the

Police Reform Bill will enable the police to do their job more

effectively, freed up from unnecessary paper-work, and focus on the

key job in hand.

Mr Blunkett said:

'Tackling anti-social behaviour is fundamental to improving quality

of life. We need to think creatively and intelligently about the

challenge ahead and how best to meet it. This is as much the

responsibility of chief officers as it is of bobbies on the beat.

'Everyone has a part to play. The crime and disorder reduction

partnerships draw together a wide range of players at local level.

This, together with increased police efficiency, backed up by the

resources to do the job, really will make a difference.'

Former commissioner of the New York Police Department, Bill Bratton,

said:

'I am pleased and honoured to have been invited to participate in

this event. The key to improving the quality of life in New York City

and the US generally was reducing crime.

'This method of policing was clearly successful, as shown by an

almost 80 per cent reduction in subway crime and more than 50 per

cent reduction in crime on the streets of New York showed in the

1990s.'

Notes

Last Friday the government published its Police Reform Bill (see LGCnet).

Officers are currently considering an outline agreement on

modernisation of pay and conditions, reached in December and agreed

by the Federation, Association of Chief Police Officers, the police

authorities and the government. On Monday the home secretary

announced changes to the package to offer more reassurance protection

to those working long and arduous hours and Christmas and Easter

holidays.

An information leaflet explaining the agreement can be found on

the home office website. Around 95,000

copies of the leaflet are being distributed to police officers

through basic command units and via inserts in magazines.

The home secretary announced on 27th January details of a 33%

increase in investment in police modernisation. The announcement

shows the breakdown of how the£209m capital provision for

2002/3, up from£157m for the current year, is to be divided up among

43 police forces. Forces will be able to bid for£20m of this

funding which has been specifically earmarked to modernise working

conditions for police office.

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