The number of call-outs of armed police has increased by more than 50% in a decade, figures show.
In a Parliamentary answer, Home Office minister Tony McNulty said firearms were authorised for 18,891 incidents in England and Wales in 2005/6.
This compares with 12,379 incidents in 1996/7 – a rise of 53%.
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 officers are so mired in red tape that they risk spending more time recording crimes than solving them, a report warned yesterday.
Cops are also forced to investigate petty offences such as playground fights to hit Government targets — instead of concentrating on bigger crimes.
Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who wrote the damning report, said a culture change was needed to cut “excess bureaucracy”.
He added that fear of making mistakes led officers to “over-record and under-deliver”. In the interim report of his Review of Policing, he said: “We risk diverting officers’ priorities to recording crimes, rather than getting out on the streets solving them and preventing them.”
Bobbies’ union the Police Federation said logging a simple shop-lifting case could take up to FIVE HOURS.
Fewer than half of the criminals brought to justice by authorities in England and Wales are taken to court, it was revealed today.
A watchdog said offences are increasingly being dealt with by a slap on the wrist or an on-the-spot fine.
Stephen Wooler, chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There has been a decline in recent years in the number of prosecutions both in absolute terms and as a proportion of offences brought to justice.
“Typically, prosecutions now count for between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of the offences brought to justice within a criminal justice area.
One in five police officers is unavailable for operational duties, research claims.
A poll of senior officers who run “basic command units” across England and Wales found that on average 5% of officers are sick, 5% are seconded to headquarters, 5% are on training and 4% of posts are vacant.
In total, 19% of the workforce is unavailable for operational duties at any one time, the poll by think-tank Policy Exchange said. Government targets have served to increase bureaucracy and stifle innovation, the survey added.
Policy Exchange polled all 228 superintendents who run basic command units, with a 68% response rate.
In all, 71% of superintendents believed the Home Office’s reporting requirements had a negative impact on the quality of policing in their area. And 85% of superintendents regarded the number of officers unavailable for operational duties as a problem.
Police will demand the right to strike if the Government goes ahead with plans for a radical overhaul of officers’ pay, John Reid, the Home Secretary, was told yesterday.
The warning came as Mr Reid, in his last weeks of the job, found himself facing 1,000 angry leaders of rank and file officers at a Police Federation meeting in Blackpool. The Home Secretary was told that if the Government’s plans were implemented officers would feel they were no different from other public sector workers and wanted the same protection.
Police officers are being driven to make “ludicrous” arrests for trivial incidents to bolster government targets, the new Justice Secretary will be told.
The leaders of 130,000 police officers have drawn up a dossier of “lunacy” on Britain’s streets. They say that children are being arrested for throwing cream buns and bits of cucumber while adults are getting criminal records for offences that merit nothing more than a ticking-off.
The pressure to get results is so bad, they say, that officers are criminalising and alienating their traditional supporters in Middle England and many are so disillusioned that they are considering quitting.