Extra funds for forces fails to boost crime solving

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The Independent Online
Pumping extra money into the police service does not automatically cut crime, improve the performance of forces, or provide more bobbies on the beat, new research published yesterday suggested.

In some cases forces that received up to 18 per cent more funding last year showed no improvement while others fell behind despite big pay increases.

However, the Audit Commission, which carried out the study, warned that it may be several years before benefits from increases in expenditure show.

The commission did find that last year most police forces responded to 999 calls and reached emergencies more quickly than in 1993/94. The overall crime clear-up rate remained static, although forces generally achieved slightly better results against violent crime. But there were a number of forces whose record in both areas deteriorated.

Despite the overall improvements chief constables yesterday cast doubt on the usefulness of the statistics and said they could be misleading.

The public-spending watchdog also detailed for the first time what proportion of their time uniformed officers spend with the public. This varied from to 77 per cent in Durham to 36 per cent in West Mercia.

The "performance indicators" for the 43 forces of England and Wales in 1994/95 show that several with large funding increases made little improvement. Durham had an 18 per cent funding increase yet made no improvement in crime solving. Dorset's performance deteriorated in several categories despite an extra 8 per cent.

The report, Local Authority Performance Indicators - Police and Fire Services, concluded: "The public will naturally expect forces to say how they have used this extra money ... The important point is that increases in funding should result in increased effectiveness."

Paul Whitehouse, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers' quality of service committee and Chief Constable of Sussex Police, argued that some forces had to spend their extra money on badly needed improvements to infrastructure and pension contributions.

On the promptness with which forces answer 999 calls, the report found most had improved. The majority managed to answer calls within 10 to 15 seconds 80 to 90 per cent of the time. However, Cambridgeshire notably saw its success rate in achieving a 12-second response time fall from 94 per cent in 1993/94 to 74 per cent. In arriving at an emergency, most aim to respond within 10 to 15 minutes in urban areas and 20 in rural areas. Again, most improved.

Jim Sharples, President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Chief Constable of Merseyside - which failed to improve its 68 per cent on arrival targets - said performance indicators had a role to play in informing the public. But he cautioned: "They are fraught with difficulties and the minimal public interest shown last year raises genuine questions about their relevance."

How the forces compared on performance indicators

Police %change in %change in %change in

force expenditure crimes cleared meeting response

93/94 to 94/95 per officer targets to

emergencies

Avon and

Somerset 4.6 % 6.9% 0%

Bedfordshire 4.7% 1.4% 18%

Cambridgeshire 3.1% -9.0% 3%

Cheshire 5.1% 6.6% * 2.8%

Cleveland 2.9% -18.9% 26%

Cumbria 3.8% 11.3% 1%

Derbyshire 5.2% -3.6% 5%

Devon and

Cornwall 1.1% -2/2% 1%

Dorset 7.9% -9.7% -22

Durham 18.1% 0.0% 4%1.7%

Dyfed-Powys 4.7% -2.5% 1%

Essex 5.7% -10.0% 2%1.5%

Gloucestershire 6.5% 2.0% -3%

Grtr Manchester 5.9% 0.0% 11%

Gwent 3.1% 3.6% 2%

Hants

and Isle of Wight 8.2% 0.6% 5%

Hertfordshire 6.9% -4.0% 0%

Humberside 1.5% 7.7% 3%

Kent 4.3% -0.8% 2%

Lancashire 1.7% -2.2% -1%

Leicestershire 3.6% 17.5% - 4%

Lincolnshire 5.9% * 5%

Merseyside 4.5% -6.8% 1%

Metropolitan

Police 2.2% 3.6% 7%

Norfolk 3.1% -6.7% -3%

North Wales 5.3% -5.2% 2%

North Yorkshire 2.5% -7.7% 3%

Northamptonshire 9.0% 2.6% 9%

Northumbria 6.9% 7.4% 2%

Nottinghamshire 6.8% -15.0 -2%

South Wales -0.1% -14.3% -1%

South Yorkshire 2.5% 7.0% 9%

Staffordshire 5.0% -4.0% 5%

Suffolk 2.7% -3.1% 3%

Surrey 12.5% 5.5% 3%

Sussex 6.2% -1.3% 1%

Thames Valley 4.1% -5.6% 11%

Warwickshire 8.3% -11.4% 8%

West Mercia 6.7% 8.0% -2%

West Midlands 5.9% -15.4% 3%

West Yorkshire 0.9% 7.3% 3%

Wiltshire 9.9% -10.0% 1%

* Qualified data for forces has been excluded

Police %change in %change in %change in

force expenditure crimes cleared meeting response

93/94 to 94/95 per officer targets to

emergencies

Leicestershire 3.6% 17.5% - 4%

Lincolnshire 5.9% * 5%

Merseyside 4.5% -6.8% 1%

Metropolitan

Police 2.2% 3.6% 7%

Norfolk 3.1% -6.7% -3%

North Wales 5.3% -5.2% 2%

North Yorkshire 2.5% -7.7% 3%

Northamptonshire 9.0% 2.6% 9%

Northumbria 6.9% 7.4% 2%

Nottinghamshire 6.8% -15.0 -2%

South Wales -0.1% -14.3% -1%

South Yorkshire 2.5% 7.0% 9%

Staffordshire 5.0% -4.0% 5%

Suffolk 2.7% -3.1% 3%

Surrey 12.5% 5.5% 3%

Sussex 6.2% -1.3% 1%

Thames Valley 4.1% -5.6% 11%

Warwickshire 8.3% -11.4% 8%

West Mercia 6.7% 8.0% -2%

West Midlands 5.9% -15.4% 3%

West Yorkshire 0.9% 7.3% 3%

Wiltshire 9.9% -10.0% 1%

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