Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bureaucracy Overwhelms Cops

The Sunday Telegraph carries another front page report on Chief Constables complaining about the tons of extra paperwork Tony's given them. Last week it was Steve Green of Nottingham, this week it's Bob Quick of Surrey. He says:

"It costs a third of a million pounds to train a constable in the first four years of his career, so it does seem bizarre that for nearly 90 per cent of their time they are either doing form-filling and bureaucracy or they are doing lower order tasks that are well below their training and skills threshold.

"Only about 10 or 12 per cent of their time are they doing things that I feel constables should do. We are not tackling the really vociferous, persistent criminals that need to be tackled."

Naturally I'm receptive to complaints of burdensome bureaucracy, particularly when they come from our local Chief Constable. But there are one or two quibbles.

First, what he's told the Telegraph about not tackling crime doesn't square at all with the Panglossian view that accompanied our recent Council Tax demand. There he produced a string of stats showing how responsive the force was and how much they'd reduced crime. Since nobody round these crime ridden parts could recognise that version, I'm pleased to see he's now come out with the truth.

Second, he complains about lack of funds. But he already gets £165 million, for which he provides just 1,944 officers. That's a walloping £85,000 apiece! Where does it all go?

Third, the cops have been complaining about paperwork ever since Dixon of Dock Green. I'm quite prepared to believe it's worse now, but it's something managers in state industries just have to...well, manage.

Roll on elected sheriffs.

And finally, umm, what exactly are 'vociferous criminals'?

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