LETTER:What the police are there for

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Waddington's article "Finding a real job for Bobby" (1 March) asserts that the Audit Commission's report starts from the assumption that police patrol is intended to prevent and detect crime. It does not. The report recognises that patrol fulfils a number of key functions including responding to incidents and emergencies; reassuring the public; deterring street crime, nuisance and vandalism; forging links with local communities; and gathering intelligence about criminal activity.

Professor Waddington asserts that the Commission chastises the public for using the 999 system. It does not. It actually emphasises the importance of freeing the 999 system for emergency calls by suggesting the introduction of an information line, perhaps using 333. And he implies that the Commission undervalues the police as a symbol of authority. It does not. The report clearly recognises this important role, but then analyses how the police can fulfil it most effectively in the 1990s.

Andrew Foster


The Audit Commission

London SW1