|Superintendents' Association president warns that new approach to law enforcement is needed.|
What refreshing news, to hear that the new President of the Superintendents Association conced that the police service has been engulfed and threatened by a target culture.
The new president of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales has warned that a “tick box” target culture is prevailing in the Police Service – despite the best efforts of the Home Secretary to return discretion to front line officers.
Ch Supt Irene Curtis, who takes over the helm from predecessor Ch Supt Derek Barnett today, March 18, maintained that officers are still battling for arrests and detections – and that “a different approach” is now required.
The experienced senior operational officer told reporters: “The use of numerical targets in performance management is embedded in the police psyche.
“Policing should not be a competition. It should be collaborative and in the best interests of the public we serve. A different approach is needed to how we police.”
Ch Supt Curtis said the service needed to move away from the “tick box” focus on performance culture. Although Home Secretary Theresa May had officially removed central government policing targets – claiming the only goal for officers is “to reduce crime” – the president said targets remain a huge issue in policing “at multiple levels within the majority of police forces”.
She added: “Despite assurances from the government about the removal of central targets there is still a strong performance management culture in the service.
“This has created a generation of people who are great at chasing targets but do not always recognise that doing the right thing is the best thing for the public.”
Ch Supt Curtis, who is the first woman to take up the full-time presidency of the association, warned that targets had the “unintended consequences of forces, teams and even individual police officers concentrating efforts on ticking boxes and outdoing their peers at the expense of simply being the best they can be”.
The officer told reporters “I'm proposing a return to common sense policing which focuses on doing the right thing for victims and the public.
“This would include freeing up the performance management framework from targets that lead to increased audit and compliance work and dysfunctional behaviour.
“There is an urgent need to develop a more trusting performance management culture in the service. It is important that forces have measures to help them to understand how they are performing, but they should not be dominated by targets.”
Ch Supt Curtis, who has nearly three decades of policing experience under her belt, said she believed “front line officers are currently stretched beyond where they should be”.
She added: “What is required is the evidence-based deployment of resources rather than arbitrary numerical targets.
“I strongly believe that such an approach is essential to reduce demand and thus create further capacity for the diminishing resources available for policing as a consequence of this and the next Comprehensive Spending Review."
Ma'am, we genuinely wish you the very best of luck with your objectives and convincing your colleagues that this is the only way forward. Unless and until the target culture blight is wiped out from the service, confidence cannot begin to return, either from the public or the rank and file officers still plagued with bureaucracy. Targets have driven operational policing for too long with disasterous consequences. The statistics are no longer trusted and the public have become weary and angry with a service that have become box ticking, form filling adminstrators that seems to have lost its way of genuinely serving and protecting the public.