Headlines: September 23rd, 2004

The public perception that crime is rising when, in fact it is falling, has been reversed following a concerted effort by police forces and the Home Office. A survey published by the Home Office shows that worry about violence is down 22% and worry about burglary is down 15%. Underlying these perceptions is a 6% reduction in robberies and an 8% reduction in domestic burglaries. The only area where performance deteriorated was in detection of offences, down nearly 2%.A new performance measure introduced this year, reveals that 63 % of time was spent by officers on frontline policing. Absence of officers on sick leave has been reduced by over 9% in the past year.

The survey also shows a wide disparity in performance between polices forces operating under similar conditions. Seven forces with the most significant performance gaps were provided with support from the Home Office. In some cases support was given to help a force’s own self-inspired improvement regime to go further and faster. In others, the support became a catalyst for change. For some forces the result was a much more fundamental change. In those forces where support was given, crime was reduced by 13%, which is twice the rate of other forces in England and Wales.

The Association of Police Authorities, whose members are responsible for the governance of police forces, have expressed concern that the Home Office performance framework does not provide for the measurement of local priorities.