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Police can give some criminals a ticking off, says minister

By DPF Admin24th September 2013Latest News

Mr Green said that while cutting crime must always be the priority, it was important that officers used their professional judgment when called out to incidents that could be dealt with in a range of ways.

In a speech to the Association of Chief Police Officers, Mr Green said that if an officer is called out to a relatively minor incident, they should consider whether it might be appropriate simply to tell someone off.

He said knowing when it was right to caution someone rather than arrest them was an important part of the job.

Mr Green also urged police officers to keep their eyes and ears open when dealing with routine offences. Rather than just filling out forms and going back to the station, officers needed to be looking out for other areas of concern.

Mr Green’s comments came in a speech to chief officers in which he reiterated the Home Secretary’s determination to rid forces of bureaucracy and unnecessary targets.

He said: “The old ways of ticking the boxes for the targets are gone. I want the police to be responsive to the needs and desires of the people you serve, not Whitehall whims. That, surely, is the point of policing; to make the nation safer, to leave people feeling safer in their beds or on the streets, to catch criminals who break the law. It’s tough to do, but the aims are simple.”

Mr Green said that rather than slavishly following targets, officers should use more judgment and initiative.

He said: “Police have to use their judgment, good judgment, all the time. That judgment – whether to arrest or caution for a low-level vehicle crime, or whether someone caught cycling on a pavement needs a telling-off or a fixed penalty notice – is always crucial.

“Officers must judge what the right thing to do is, but of course always within the confines of the law. That police discretion also extends to deployment – sergeants and inspectors making sure officers are deployed in the most effective way to cut crime.

“But once they get to the job, they have to show professional discretion. Is it a one-off fallout between a teenager and his mum? Or is it evidence of systematic abuse? You got called out to a burglary? But did you get a sniff of a pattern of domestic violence between the couple at the house when you arrived? You don’t just fill out the form for burglary, you might need to ask some other questions as well.”

He added: “I know it is tough to throw off the security blanket of targets set elsewhere, but the benefits of taking that brave step are obvious. It will produce a new generation of skilled crime fighters.”

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