Theresa May accuses police chiefs of encouraging red tape

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The tug-of-war over the future of British policing continued yesterday as the Home Secretary attacked police chiefs for failing to join her war on red tape.

Theresa May accused chief constables of being occupied with hitting targets rather than fighting crime. She said the Government "really means business" in its crackdown on bureaucracy, but certain chiefs were hampering efforts by ignoring central policy.

Ms May told the Association of Chief Police Officers' annual conference in Harrogate: "Here's the problem. Not all of you are following my lead. Some of you are still setting your forces targets that we've scrapped nationally."

Graeme Maxwell, chief constable of North Yorkshire Police, accused her of focusing too much on a single issue. Branding the criticism "misguided", he said: "If the Home Secretary has set the objective to reduce crime, yes we'll get on with that, but actually crime for me needs also to take into account a wealth of other objectives."