Blunkett summons police chiefs for talks on raft of reforms

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Indy Politics

David Blunkett will make plain the Government's determination to reform the police service when he addresses Britain's most senior officers next week.

He has summoned chief constables and police authority chairmen from 43 forces in England and Wales to the Home Office seminar next Thursday to outline Labour's programme of change.

He will face a charged atmosphere, after his unprecedented intervention led to the resignation of Sussex Chief Constable Paul Whitehouse.

Mr Blunkett is determined to reform police shift patterns and working practices.

Yesterday Home Office officials were playing down the event, stressing Mr Blunkett wanted to listen to the views of the police and meet as many senior officers as he could.

The meeting comes after a frenetic three weeks since Mr Blunkett took over at the Home Office. He has demanded an overhaul of police training and operation, promised to speed up laws to protect vulnerable witnesses and signalled a softening of policy on possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Ministers are also anxious to promote the idea of more police on the beat.

Mr Blunkett has also floated the idea of issuing "green cards" to skilled asylum seekers. He has already promised to examine limited publication of the names of paedophiles released from prison.

The Association of Chief Police Officers played down any conflict with the Home Office, insisting chief constables were willing to listen to Mr Blunkett and consider his proposals.

A spokesman for ACPO said he did not yet know the agenda for the meeting, but said: "We welcome the opportunity for an early meeting to get together with the Home Secretary to discuss the development of the reforms which the police service has been discussing and take that forward."

A Home Office spokesman said: " Mr Blunkett is taking the opportunity to set out his vision for the police over the coming years and continuing the dialogue over police reform. ."

* Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has threatened to fund the Metropolitan police authority on a monthly basis tied to specific performance targets. Mr Livingstone has complained about the force's past finances which, he said, showed evidence of "terrible waste.