Headlines: January 28th, 2002

Plans to modernise the Police service give new powers to non-police officers do police work. It’s a similar measure to what’s happening in education, where it is proposed that classroom assistants take on some of the lesser responsibilities of teachers.The proposals are in the Police Reform Bill, a package of measures which also proposes measures to tackle differing performance between forces. Supported by the newly established Police Standards Unit, forces will be helped to achieve the standards of the best, whether in tackling crime, preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, or reassuring the public.

For the first time there will be an annual national policing plan for forces based on national priorities, rather than each force setting its own agenda. There will be new codes of practice drafted by the National Centre for Policing Excellence, and powers for the Home Secretary to intervene where a force has become inefficient or ineffective.

Although officers support many of the changes to old-fashioned procedures in the bill, rank and file officers have reservations about lesser skilled people doing police work. Chief officers are opposed to the Home Secretary taking powers to interfere in agenda-setting.

Under the Bill a network of street wardens, neighbourhood wardens and security staff would be harnessed through accreditation schemes set up by chief officers at a local level to become accredited community safety officers. They will be co-ordinated by the police and help reassure the public that there is an additional presence in their neighbourhoods.

The Government has ensured that there is a body of trained people ready to take on these new powers when they become available. Sixteen new street wardens will be on the streets in Hull as early as next month after completing training.

Their four week-long course teaches them how to tackle environmental problems from graffiti to abandoned cars.The ?50 million street warden programme will eventually see 700 more wardens in communities across the country as part of the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal.
Link: www.neighbourhood.dtlr.gov.uk