Front-line police officers are being buried under a “snowstorm” of guidance manuals, the chief inspector of constabulary has warned.
Denis O’Connor revealed 1,400 police officers have been removed from front-line duties to perform other tasks, partly as a result of the red tape.
New research has found 52 new guidance documents were published last year, each 50 pages long on average and containing more than 4,000 new dictates, the Daily Telegraph has reported.
O’Connor said an overly-cautious obsession with following the guidance, which attempts to cover every eventuality, has distorted priorities.
He called for officers to use their “common sense” and “discretion” to police the streets, rather than what the guidance books tell them.
He said: “People ask: ‘Where are the police?’ This is where they are. The more of this guidance there is, the less there are going to be on the beat.
“We need the strength and leadership to cull this dramatically.”
He added: “I could not imagine another business that could operate like this.”
There are now 6,497 pages of national guidelines from sources including the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office and the National Police Improvement Agency.
A further 60 guidance manuals due to be released this year have been put on hold after the police watchdog’s intervention