Headlines: February 1st, 1999

More money spent on a public service does not automatically mean better
performance, as shown by a new report from the Audit Commission.

The Commission’s 1997/98 Police and Fire Services Performance Indicators
identify the both police and fire services are receiving more money per
head of population than previously, yet this hasn’t necessarily brought
better results.

The wide difference in performance of different forces and brigades is
something the Audit Commission says that needs to be tackled urgently by
those services lagging behind.

Andrew Foster, Controller of the Audit Commission, said the services also
needed to be able to justify how they were spending new money, if such
spending could not be justified through performance indicators.

He said: “The public has a right to expect that increased spending will
lead to improved performance. Forces and brigades which have increased
expenditure should explain to their local communities how this is improving

Key fire service findings are: the amount of money spent per person on
providing fire services has increased in almost all fire brigades in real
terms – by up to 10 per cent in the last five years.

While all brigades perform well in responding to fire calls, following up
requests for fire safety inspections of businesses can take less than a
month, or more than a year.

Key police findings are: significant variations in performance, with the
gap between the worst and best forces widening. The detection rate for
burglaries in the best performing metropolitan forces is almost twice that
for the worst.

Local Authority Performance Indicators: Police and Fire Services 1997/98
(ISBN 1862401454) are available from Audit Commission Publications on
freephone 0800 502030 priced L20.