Meeting crime targets will need extra cash, say police chiefs

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The Independent Online

National targets to reduce burglaries, muggings and car crimes are unlikely to be met without additional funding, police chiefs warned yesterday.

National targets to reduce burglaries, muggings and car crimes are unlikely to be met without additional funding, police chiefs warned yesterday.

The note of caution came as the Home Office announced five-year crime reduction targets for every force as part of a move to introduce policing "league tables" similar to those used by schools and universities. The five big metropolitan forces have also been set targets to reduce the number of robberies, mostly muggings, by 17 per cent in the next five years.

The targets, which are set by the chief constables and their local police authorities differ widely, from no change to a 64 per cent drop. Nottinghamshire police, for example, believes it can bring down the level of vehicle crime by 47 per cent and burglaries by 64 per cent. In contrast Suffolk has argued that its crime levels are so low it can only manage a 10 per cent reduction in car offences and have committed themselves to staying at the same level for house break-ins.

Ministers denied yesterday that the targets were meaningless, but admitted no sanctions had been devised to penalise forces that failed to bring down crime levels.

Nationally the Government wants forces to cut vehicle crime by 30 per cent, household break-ins by 26 per cent and robberies by 12 per cent. Law and order is becoming increasingly important to the Government which is fearful of a rising crime rate in the run-up to the next general election.

But police chiefs warned yesterday that without extra officers and money they were unlikely to reach the targets. Sir John Evans, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, and Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, said: "The targets set by the Government to reduce crime are extremely demanding but they can be achieved if we have the resources to do the job." He said many forces had expected a bigger cut of the funding for 5,000 extra police officers announced by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, last week.

An Acpo spokesman confirmed that some chief constables were expected to ask for lower targets next month.

Charles Clarke, a HomeOffice minister, said: "We have no reason to believe forces will not meet these targets... If there was a serious issue of forces failing to meet their targets we would look at that closely."

The five forces with the highest robbery rates have been told to reduce them by 10 per cent in Greater Manchester and Merseyside, 15 per cent in the Metropolitan Police area, 22 per cent in West Yorkshire and 34 per cent in West Midlands.

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