Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Bureaucracy hurting Northern Ireland policing, warns senior officer

Bureaucracy and time spent measuring performance is taking away from front-line policing in Northern Ireland, a senior officer claimed today.

The series of indicators and competing priorities should be replaced by a single measure of how successful police are in attracting community confidence, chief superintendent Michael Skuce said.

The president of the Superintendents' Association of Northern Ireland said similar steps were being taken in England and Wales.

"It could and indeed should reduce the bureaucracy and time spent providing information about many performance indicators and many competing priorities and allow more time on the delivery of policing," he said.

Targets currently include the handling of calls and priorities involve anti-social behaviour, road safety and domestic burglary.

District Policing Partnerships (DPPs) operate at a local council level and receive detailed reports on how the local force performs against these targets and priorities.

In September 2007 former Northern Ireland chief constable and chief inspector of constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan completed a review on the matter.

It argued the system has led to unnecessary bureaucracy which has had the effect of removing discretion from policing.

This bureaucracy has also been driven by central government performance statistics and policy initiatives as well as legislation changes and governance bodies like the inspectorate of constabularies which placed pressure on police to prepare for reviews.

The report called for a project to create a "community-focused" performance regime for local crime.

The Northern Ireland Policing Board is to receive a presentation on the issue tomorrow.

Mr Skuce suggested there were opportunities for innovation and greater efficiencies under a devolved administration.

"In the devolved world it is this Association's view that in any new arrangements we maintain the operational independence of the police service."

He said DPPs and Community Safety Partnerships had been a success but felt more could be achieved through mandatory partnerships between police and government departments.

"Such statutory partnerships have proved successful elsewhere and could be so in Northern Ireland," he added.

He expressed sympathy to the families of two soldiers and a policeman shot dead by dissident republicans.

"Unless communities reject the terrorist there was a danger that the young people of today could get sucked into the chasm," he added.

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