Headlines: July 13th, 2001

David Blunkett has set an autumn deadline for reform proposals that will strengthen the police’s ability to fight crime and boost public confidence in the service.That’s when he proposes to bring forward a Police Reform Bill concentrating on four areas – tackling crime, building public confidence, the use of modern tools and technology, and strong leadership.

Among the reforms planned are the more obvious measures, such as better police training, more uniformed officers on the streets, and better specialists tackling particular types of crime.

More controversially, there are proposals for even further civilianisation of the work of police officers. During the 80’s civilians were taken on to handle many backroom tasks, and it is proposed to extend this so that, say, after an arrest, police officers can get back on the streets and leave civilians to process the prisoner.

There is also a strong modernisation theme to the plan, with a requirement for modern management and working practices. Mr Blunkett says he wants to sweep away arcane practices, unnecessary regulations and ‘no change’ attitudes.

A handful of existing chief constables are said to be likely to come under pressure to step aside to enable this to happen.