Examination of Witnesses (Questions 147
THURSDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2002
147. Mr Elliott and Mrs Berry, you are very
welcome. Can I clear up one thing before we start, I noticed in
your evidence you very reasonably pointed out that the gap between
the end of the consultation period and the publication of the
Bill was so brief as to cause you to think that maybe your peoples'
comments had not been taken into account. I had a letter today
from the Home Secretary who says, "We are still considering
the comments received from organisations and individuals as a
result of the publication of the White Paper and will wish to
consult further on some aspects of our proposals". It seems
that the jury is still out.
(Mr Elliott) That is very helpful.
Chairman: We are going to start off with some
questions on the National Policing Plan, Mrs Prentice is going
to help us there.
148. I notice from your original submission
you say you are in favour of the National Policing Plan, can you
tell us a little bit about the plans that are already produced
locally and why you are supportive of a National Policing Plan?
What does that add to what happens locally?
(Mr Elliott) There are plans produced locally. One
downside of the National Policing Plan is that it might make life
a little more bureaucratic, there is a danger in all that. A National
Policing Plan would help to coordinate some larger issues which
are across-force issues. It could not be too complicated because
there will obviously be local priorities required as well. We
are concerned about added bureaucracy, but equally we can see
a role for the National Policing Plan that would help coordinate,
perhaps, drugs or other issues which are across borders?
149. What happens locally at the moment?
(Mr Elliott) Locally at the moment all forces produce
a policing plan to the chief constable of the Police Authority
and those are adhered to and put together by the chief officer
and the local police authority.
150. Are there other people involved in those
when the chief constable puts together this local policing plan?
(Mr Elliott) The chief officer will obviously take
soundings from within the force and the police authority from
the public to try and reflect both internal and external priorities.
(Mrs Berry) There are a variety of different consultations
which take place at force level before the business plan is put
together, they would obviously take account of the local consultation
with the public in the community. They also talk to staff associations
within the force and the police authority and then the final plan
is put together and submitted to the Home Office.
151. If I can turn to performance indicators,
I know you have some worries about performance indicators. How
do you think this affects the Basic Command Units? How does it
affect individual officers?
(Mr Elliott) First of all, I think there are too many
performance indicators and that makes life somewhat bureaucratic
sometimes. Unfortunately it also means that we chase targets rather
than chasing what should be done, you chase what can be measured
rather than what might be required, and that affects the individual
officers. Quite clearly individual officers are targeted towards
trying to meet some of the performance indicators, so it can frustrate
police into being uptight to meet targets. You may pull people
off street policing to reach a particular target, that might be
one of the consequence of performance indicators. Over-bureaucracy
is one issue which I think is costly in terms of trying to meet
the targets, too many targets is a second and, perhaps, it does
divert people in some areas away from the public and what might
be required in terms of street police.
152. Do you think there are too many targets?
Let me ask you, which ones would you remove if you had the power
to do so?
(Mr Elliott) There are round 150 odd targets in the
Police Service and it is difficult to enumerate the ones that
I would personally remove. I think there are too many targets
looking at quantity rather than quality issues. I think it is
qualitative issues that are as important to the public as quantitative
issues. I think basically we need to look more towards qualitative
as well as quantitative targets.
153. Do you think that is why some officers
might concentrate too much on filling their basket with targets?
(Mr Elliott) I am sure that is a factor.
(Mrs Berry) The general feeling amongst a lot of police
officers is what gets counted gets done. If it is very cosmetic
and, as Clint has said, a quantitative measure then the outcome
that might cause is not taken into account. Of great concern to
us is that the visibility of police is not necessarily one of
the quantitative performance indicators that is taken into account
and, therefore, over a long period because chief officers have
had to make decisions on where they put limited resource, and
then they are not being judged on visibility, that is why we are
seeing more police being taken off the streets, rather than on
the streets, and going into areas where they can produce the figures
that the performance indicators require them to. Until such a
time as there are performance indicators on the visibility of
police on the streets and then see what outcome that type of performance
indicator presents in a qualitative way then, I think, we will
continue to have some of the problems with performance indicators.
154. Can I now turn to the new Standards Unit
and your views on that? Can you tell us whether you think it will
be in any way in conflict with the Inspectorate?
(Mr Elliott) That is a really good question, because
we do support the Standards Unit to drive standards up, we hope.
There is likely to be some difficulty between the role of the
Inspectorate and the Standards Unit. We think this needs to be
well thought through, although we do see a role for the Inspectorate
and the Standards Unit. It is an issue that I think would cause
some difficulties in the early days, and perhaps even in the longer
term, if we do not get it right.
155. When we saw witnesses last week we suggested
to them, why can the Inspectorate not become the Standards Unit,
or do you think there needs to be two separate bodies, even though
they may overlap?
(Mr Elliott) I think in general terms we would support
the Standards Unit as driving quality and the Inspectorate having
more of a role of thematic-type inspections and the occasional
in-force total inspection. I think the Standards Unit will be
more targeted to specific issues to drive particular standards
in particular areas.
156. Do you see the Standards Unit replacing
the Inspectorate in due course or vice versa?
(Mr Elliott) That depends how they perform. It could
well be in the long-term there could be an amalgamation. Quite
clearly one of the difficulties with having two units is if they
both demand different sets of figures and different sets of figures
produced in different ways. It would be a nightmare if we had
two different bodies doing similar jobs, producing similar figures
in different way. One thing that I think we certainly need as
a service to get together is to decide what figures are important
and produce one set to a set standard. We have failed to do this
consistently, I believe, in the time that I have been in the Service.
Even simple figures like levels of sickness are not necessarily
matched force-by-force in the way they are collected. One important
factor for the Standards Unit would be to standardise the figures.
157. To get comparable figures. Are you satisfied
with the way the Inspectorate has done its job up to now?
(Mr Elliott) By and large, yes.
(Mrs Berry) If I can add to that, I think the Inspectorate
have moved from having annual inspections of all forces into more
thematic inspections. We welcome that because it means they can
take a more focussed look at different aspects of policing. I
do not think they should overlook the need to have a thorough
review of forces every three years. I think the link between the
Standards Unit and the HMIC needs to be very closely coordinated
so they can work together. In our evidence we suggested they should
be amalgamated to form one unit. We see a benefit from HMIC, not
just reflecting links with retired senior officers but also the
expertise coming from outside the service and combining that to
be an effective Inspectorate.
158. Has the Inspectorate been aware of kicking
upstairs senior officers who have really served their time, or
is that irreverent?
(Mr Elliott) I do not think we should make that judgment,
we do not appoint HMIC Inspectors. People who have wider knowledge
of issues than we might have have done that in the past. I think
one of the points I would like to expand on slightly in terms
of the Standards Unit and the Inspectorate is that the Inspectorate
is looking at thematic issues that might affect all forces on
a particular topic, we would rather see the Standards Unit with,
perhaps, BCU demanding that good and bad practice be spread, which
is a slightly different way of looking at policing, I think, from
the way the Inspectorate have traditionally done that.
159. In your written submission you welcome
the announcement of an Independent Police Complaints Commission
being set up and then go on to shoot all of the provisions in
the Bill down in flames. In particular in Section 8 you say, "We
have concluded that the IPCC, as structured in the Bill, is a
piece of window dressing designed to give the appearance of independence
whilst in effect perpetuating the present system".
(Mr Elliott) We have been in favour of an Independent
Police Complaints Commission for some considerable period of time.
We were drawn to that conclusion largely because what we have
now does not satisfy anybody. Our real worry about the IPCC is
it will not satisfy anybody because it will not deal with a wide
and big enough figure of police complaints. We are estimating
that about 3 per cent of all police complaints will be dealt with
by the IPCC, that leaves 97 per cent not truly independently investigated.
We believe that those figures should be bigger than 3 per cent
and cover a bigger category than those complaints addressed in
the Bill. We are complaining that the Independent Police Complaints
Commission is not independent enough, which is, perhaps, not what
you might expect from us. We think it should be much more independent
and have a far wider remit of complaints investigation.