Howard sets targets to improve policing: Progress measured against number of burglaries and violent crimes

POLICE performance is to be measured against a set of key objectives aimed at improving detection, reassurance for the public and partnership, Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

The progress of the 43 forces in England and Wales in meeting the targets will be measured against the number of violent crimes and house burglaries detected per 100 officers, public satisfaction with the levels of foot and mobile patrols, and the percentage of emergency calls answered and responded to within set local times.

Mr Howard said: 'I believe these key objectives reflect things that most people want. This is an important step in giving the police a clear steer on the Government's priorities for their work.'

The targets are based on proposals in the Government's White Paper on policing, which included reform of police authorities to include five members and a chairman appointed by the Home Secretary.

Richard Coyles, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, said that the objectives should be determined locally and not dictated by Mr Howard.

The White Paper reforms, included in the forthcoming Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill, made a 'nonsense' of the Government's claim to be decentralising decision- making in the police, he said.

It would establish a pattern of central control that could be the first step towards a national police force.

The five objectives for the service for 1994-95, which will be a trial run before the Police Bill comes into effect, are:

To maintain and, if possible, increase the number of detections for violent crimes;

To increase the number of detections of domestic burglaries;

To provide high visibility policing to reassure the public;

To respond promptly to emergency calls;

To target and prevent crimes identified as particular local problems, in partnership with the public and other local agencies.

The Government has yet to devise a way of measuring the effectiveness of crime prevention initiatives.

In his letter setting out the targets to chief constables and police authorities, the Home Secretary said that he would encourage them to publish results in their annual reports.

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