Number of police officers hits record high

New
government figures show police numbers have hit a record high.

There
are now a record 129,603 police officers, the highest number since records
began in 1921.

Police
figures show an increase of 3,922 or 3.1 per cent compared to a year earlier.
The Government has set a target of 130,000 officers by spring next year.

Home
Secretary David Blunkett wants the record number of police officers to spend
more time on-the-beat and less time involved in administration tasks.

He
has unveiled an action plan which includes:

cut
unnecessary form filling – halving the 15 most-used forms by police and looking
to drastically reduce the total of 250 forms in use;

provide
a new street-based power of direction or ‘street bail’ measure – a scheme
whereby police officers would be given the power to deal with certain arrest
situations on the street without always having to take a suspect into custody
immediately. The suspect would be required to attend a police station at a
later date; and

roll-out
a pilot standby scheme for officers giving evidence in courts to save time –
officers would remain in contact by pager or phone either at their home station
or at a nearby police station undertaking other tasks.

Blunkett
said: "A staggering 250 forms are in regular use by front-line staff.
These forms can be repetitive, too long and even redundant. In one case,
officers spent 41,250 officer hours a year filling in a stolen vehicle form
which is no longer needed."

By Paul Nelson

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