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POLICE REFORM BILL WILL UNDERPIN WIDER MODERNISATION

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The Police Reform Bill reflects the government's commitment to ...
The Police Reform Bill reflects the government's commitment to

ensuring the police service is able to do its job effectively and

underpins the police reform programme already developed with the

police service, home office minister John Denham said today.

The Bill will provide the legislative framework for modernising

policing and is part of a wider agenda for reform which includes for

example video ID parades and the introduction of pilot video

recording of interviews.

Video recording of police interviews with suspects will be piloted

from tomorrow as part of government plans to modernise police

procedures and provide a more reliable interview record for the

courts.

This follows the introduction of video identification parades to 10

robbery hotspots to help police identify suspects more swiftly and

speed up the criminal justice system.

Mr Denham confirmed the government's intention to reintroduce powers

of detention for community support officers and powers to intervene

on behalf of communities where policing is failing and, following

defeats in the lords.

He said he welcomed today's home affairs select committee report on

the Police Reform Bill, in particular the committee's recognition

that community support officers could play an important part in

supporting the police and that the powers the government is proposing

should be tested.

The government remained convinced that powers to tackle persistent

poor performance were required and noted the committee's welcome for

the extra safeguards for the proposed powers.

The Bill is an essential part of the government's police reform

programme, aimed at further reducing crime and the fear of crime and

raising the performance of the police service as a whole, he added.

Mr Denham said:

'Nothing is more important to local communities than the ability to

live free from crime, from anti- social behaviour and to live without

the fear of being a victim.

'The effectiveness of the police service is critical to achieving

this aim. Up and down the country, dedicated professional police

officers do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job well.

'Our proposals for reform are driven by the desire to better support

front-line officers in the work that they do. Recruiting record

numbers of police officers, tackling red tape and bureaucracy,

enhancing training will help officers provide an effective and modern

police service.

'Everyone has the right to expect high standards of policing ,

wherever they live. The government remains convinced that powers to

tackle persistent poor performance are required. Wide variations in

performance between forces need to be tackled by promoting good

practice, and where necessary, taking effective remedial action to

address poor performance.'

Key elements in the Police Reform Bill to raise policing standards

include:

- A National Policing Plan will set out the government's priorities

for policing, how they are to be delivered and indicators by which

performance will be measured.

- Regulations and codes of practice in relation to equipment and

practices and procedures will ensure that the best operational and

management policies for policing are applied consistently

throughout the service.

- Where a force or part of a force is failing the secretary of state

will be able to require a police authority to take measures to

remedy the situation

- Reintroduce a power for the secretary of state to direct chief

officers to take remedial action to address poor performance. This

intervention power would only be used as a last resort.

- To allow the police to designate support staff as community support

officers and to set up community safety accreditation schemes to

assist the police in tackling anti social behaviour and minor

disorder and to provide increased reassurance to the public.

Community support staff will be given powers to issue a fixed

penalty notice, power of detention and the power to use reasonable

force to ensure their effectiveness.

- Introduce an independent police complaints commission to bring in

an open and transparent system to increase public confidence and

give reassurance that complaints will be investigated fairly and

effectively.

- To update the existing powers to remove and suspend chief officers

but with important safeguards for individual officers. These

include a requirement to give reasons for action, the right for

officers to have a personal hearing at any proceedings, and the

right for a police authority to have their representations

considered where the secretary of state initiates action.

New measures introduced in the Bill in the commons include:

- To enable employees of companies providing detention and/or

prisoner escort service to police authorities on a contracted out

basis to have access to relevant police powers;

- Powers for paramedics to take intimate samples (such as a blood

sample) under the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence

Act and Road Traffic Act.

- For chief constable of the British Transport Police to be able to

establish community safety accreditation schemes.

- To make Sex Offender Orders apply across the UK as a whole and to

provide for interim Sex Offender Orders in England and Wales.

Notes

1. The Police Reform Bill was introduced into the house of lords on

25th January, 2002. It concluded 3rd reading in the lords on April

25th and has now been introduced into the commons.

2. The Police Reform Bill and Explanatory Notes are available on

the parliament website (www.parliament.uk).

3. The Bill will be taken forward alongside the government's wider

police reform agenda. Other measures being taken forward to provide

more effective and efficient policing include video ID parades.

Video recording of police interviews with suspects will

be piloted from tomorrow.

4. Five forces, Kent, Hampshire, West Mercia, the Metropolitan

Police Service and Essex will run the scheme for 12 monthsand will

pave the way for the wider use of this technology across all police

forces. Until now, police could only visually record an interview

if the suspect consented, but under new revised police guidelines

visual records of an interview will be mandatory in the pilot

areas.

5. Police guidance on video recordings of police interviews with

suspects is contained in PACE Code F, which is police guidance

governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. The code is

mandatory in those police stations participating in the pilot

scheme.

6. Police numbers have reached record levels, with 128,748 police

officers in England and Wales on 31 January, 2002. With help from

the Crime Fighting Fund, police strength is well on track for the

government's target of 130,000 police officers by Spring 2003.

7. The modernised pay and conditions package is currently in

conciliation in the Police Negotiating Board.

8. A special taskforce, headed by David O'Dowd, was established

last November to look at how to reduce the burden of paperwork in

the police service. The taskforce is due to report this summer.

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