Monday, 18 March 2013


Superintendents' Association president warns that new approach to law enforcement is needed.'Threaten-Policing'_62268.html

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.


Crime Analyst said...

Her comments came after a damning report into a sex crime unit in Southwark, south London, where target culture was blamed for a failure to properly investigate rapes.

Victims were pressured into giving retraction statements, which meant that the alleged crime had not taken place and boosted detection rates.

Those whose claims were ignored included a woman who made an allegation against Jean Say, who went on to murder his two children.

The sex assault allegation against him was dismissed by a detective sergeant who said the circumstances did not constitute rape because the woman "consented".

A report on the failings was published by the Independent Police Complaints Commission last month.

Deputy chairwoman Deborah Glass said: "The pressure to meet targets as a measure of success, rather than focusing on the outcome for the victim, resulted in the police losing sight of what policing is about - protecting the public and deterring and detecting crime."


Anonymous said...

Is this the same woman?

Crime Analyst said...

Hi Dickie
Yep! Just posted a comment of your pages. Wierd innit? She seems to make a lot of common sense talking about scrapping targets then shoots herslf in the foot bleating on about macho policing.
She might be well advised to take her new role one step at a time, earn respect first, so her views are considered worth something.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I agree with your article though.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff. I wonder if the message will filter through to those middle managers who are hell bent on target setting because its all they know?

Visit to see about how targets mean that officers should be protected by Industrial Rights.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Blimey! I bet she'll be under some scrutiny from within.
Quality vs Quantity is a concept as old as the hills yet still the job hammered away at the latter. From street level examples (probationers would inevitably have more 'process' jobs in their book than me - but all mine went to court) to the more convoluted and corrupt manipulations, highlighted in this blog and elsewhere, make me fearful that Irene will not win this one from within the organisation if she doesn't get some heavy hitting backers.

newboilerman said...

I think it is more a question of having the right measures in place to guide leaders to set the right priorities.

In the health service, the introduction of the NHS Outcomes framework will, in my view, lead to the right strategic thinking. Lower level targets such as time to see your GP or a consultant are operational measures which should be used by operational managers.

I would like to see the same approach applied to policing - although I must admit it is much harder to look at the policing outcomes as it is much easier to under-report crime.

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