The Police Federation's Annual Conference: Hive-off fears over secret work review

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The Independent Online
A SECRETIVE Home Office review could threaten the police service, Richard Coyles, chairman of the Police Federation, warned yesterday.

The review was examining the 'core tasks' of the police. Work which the Home Office and the Treasury deemed 'non-essential' might be hived off to other public services or to the private security industry, he said.

The federation had protested to the Home Secretary about the lack of consultation, he said.

The Audit Commission and Her Majesty's Inspectorate already scrutinise every corner of police activity, he added.

'This process goes back a long, long way and over the years more and more civilian staff have been recruited, either to cope with the additional bureaucracy which this government has piled on to us, and now seeks to blame us for, or to perform tasks that do not require police powers, expertise and experience.'

Speaking on the eve of today's address by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, he said: 'I'm getting tired of hearing ministers and others say that thousands of officers have been or can be, released for operational duties through greater civilianisation. If all these extra bobbies were really pounding the pavements of Britain, the public would have to walk in the road.'

At the end of the review the Home Office might know the cost of policing but he questioned whether it would know its value.