More than one third of an average police officer’s time is being spent away from frontline duties and a major Government drive against paperwork in recent years has failed to reduce the proportion of shifts spent on unproductive bureaucracy.
Figures released as part of a review of the performance of the 43 forces in England and Wales show that the Home Office is as far away as ever from achieving its much-vaunted target of reducing time spent filling in forms and dealing with administration, and “effectively freeing up 12,000 officers for the front line”.
In the year 2006 – 2007 a total of 64.2 per cent of police time was spent on frontline policing.
This was a slight increase on the 63.3 per cent total in the previous year.
However, the frontline policing measure has changed little since 2003 – 2004, when it was 63.3 per cent.
Many officers believe the paperwork problem of duplicate forms has been removed only to be replaced with equally time-consuming burden of supplying the Home Office with performance statistics.
But the number of police officers actually patrolling the beat is even lower because the Home Office continues to include such paperwork in the definition of frontline policing, arguing that “it is clear that the activities of the police in gathering and presenting evidence is crucial to dealing with offenders” and that some paperwork is “best completed by a police officer.”
Police tied up with paperwork