Police dismayed at Clarke's plan for league tables

POLICE reacted coolly last night to the Home Secretary's announcement that league tables will be used to show which police forces perform best in such areas as crime detection, response to emergencies and the reduction of complaints.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said that the new competition would lead to fewer police officers on the beat. The Police Federation said that the idea was 'stupid' and would give the public a misleading impression of efficiency.

Announced by Kenneth Clarke at an Audit Commission conference, performance indicators for the police are the Government's latest move to make public services more accountable. They come after league tables for schools and hospitals.

Performance indicators for the police were first mooted by the Audit Commission last year and became part of the Citizen's Charter. But with crime dominating the domestic political agenda, Mr Clarke has seized on them as a chance to be seen to be taking steps to combat the problem and to enforce change on a reluctant force.

The service is facing a radical restructuring, with Mr Clarke studying proposals that could include reducing by half the 43 forces in England and Wales; replacing locally elected members of police authorities with nominees; and centralising funding.

Such root and branch change has prompted unprecedented attack from some senior officers.

It is also causing unusual alliances. Alun Michael, a Labour home affairs spokesman, was calling yesterday, in the Commons debate on crime, for the recruitment of more officers. He warned that offending would increase in the face of a demoralised 'front line'.

In all, 17 indicators will be drawn up by the Audit Commission, in consultation with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Acpo. The results for each force will be advertised in local newspapers by the end of December next year.

Mr Clarke said: 'The police do not want to rouse expectations, fail to deliver and lose public support. It is, therefore, an abiding duty on all of us in society to help the police define their purpose.'

Criticising figures quoted in recent reports in the Independent on low crime detection, Mr Clarke said: 'The figures we have are flawed and it is difficult to place too much reliance on them. Performance indicators will give us all figures we can trust.'

Tony Blair, Labour's spokesman on home affairs, said: 'We should not kid ourselves that the publication of information about policing is a substitute for a proper or coherent policy to fight crime which is woefully lacking at present.'

Challenging the outcry over police clear-up rates, Dr Barrie Irvine, a leading criminologist, argued that rising crime would inevitably produce lower detection rates.

Dr Irvine told a Brighton conference, Shaping the Future of Local Policing: 'As there has been no massive investment in information technology for the investigative process and cash limits have ensured no major increase in manpower, rising crime rates are bound to produce lower detection rates.'

Alan Eastwood, chairman of the Police Federation, said: 'We are fed up with being a political football. We are under the microscope at the moment.'

Charles Pollard, chairman of Acpo's quality of service committee, said the league tables could 'skew grass roots policing away from the bobby on the beat and lead to a more reactive, aggressive style of policing alien to the British people'.

John Major is expected to raise the issue of crime when he speaks at the Conservative Central Council meeting in Harrogate today. The Prime Minister will also develop a theme on unity, with an upbeat message on the economy.

Tories at Harrogate, page 8

Leading article, page 14

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

The Grange Retirement Home: Full Time Care Team Manager

£22,400: The Grange Retirement Home: This is a key role which requires a sound...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada