Police reforms attacked for harming local service Reforms 'threat to local policing'

THE leader of the country's chief police officers yesterday attacked government reforms of the police service and said they risked destroying relations with the community, writes Jason Bennetto.

Sir John Smith, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said the reforms had been introduced with 'insufficient research and debate' and the Home Office's current review of the police's core functions struck at the heart of community policing ideals.

Commenting on the effects of the forthcoming Police and Magistrates Bill, he said: 'We are in danger of politicising our police force. Local policing agendas could become centrally driven and the influence of local communities in setting local policing priorities will be diluted.'

Sir John told delegates at the International Police Exhibition and Conference, in London: 'There is not much doubt that moving down the path mapped out . . . will cut to the heart of principles on which community policing is built.'

The deputy commissioner also criticised performance targets and the introduction of short-term contracts for senior ranks. He said they would lead to more police time being spent on enforcement and less on community policing, as forces looked to ensure a good position in assessment league tables.