Headlines: September 10th, 2003

Local police authorities and Chief Constables have been urged by the Home Secretary to play a full role in taking forward the next phase of the police reform agenda to deliver better community-based policing, while at the same time developing effective systems to tackle serious organised crime and the terrorrist threat.David Blunkett told senior officers and the chairs of authorities that far-reaching reforms, redefining police relationships with the communities they serve, could increase local accountability, help to tackle crime and build safer communities. He said greater community involvement and strengthening community-based policing, properly accountable to the public, had to develop from the bottom up, rather than being imposed from above.

Mr. Blunkett said he was determined to build on the achievements of police reform to date. He listed these as increasing the numbers of police officers and community support officers, the radical pay and conditions deal and the ongoing work by the Police Standards Unit to raise performance. The Home Secretary said he was now determined to drive the reform agenda forward.

He said crime was continuing to fall and there were record numbers of police and community support officers patrolling the streets but there could be no standing still and the police had a crucial role to play in pushing forward the reform programme. “I want to explore with community representatives, police, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and police authorities how we achieve greater delegation to deliver a flexible police service able to respond to local needs, ” he said.

Serving the community, he said, could not be at the expense of tackling the terror threat and fighting organised crime. The world was changing and the police had to change with it by setting up the right structures, mechanisms and expertise to allow us to stay one step ahead of serious,organised criminals.