Headlines: February 3rd, 1999

Home Secretary Jack Straw today challenged police forces across England and Wales to step up their efficiency drives and improve effectiveness. He announced a 2.7% rise in expenditure for the coming year, but pointed out that as the recent Audit Commission report shows, increased resources do not automatically improve police performance.

The police have been comparatively insulated in recent years from many of the pressures experienced by other areas of the public sector, but they have now been brought into the improvement regime with a target of two per cent year on year efficiency gains. Since 1992 the Probation Service has made efficiency gains of over 20 per cent and the Prison Service has achieved reductions of 24 per cent in real terms per prisoner. Partnership working, together with targeted policing and better use of IT have been highlighted as areas likely to yield improvements in efficiency.

The Crime and Disorder Act has changed the landscape by involving the local community and public and voluntary bodies in crime prevention and detection. It has provided the police with new powers and opportunities. It should lead to a better focus for targeting local crime problems.