PLANS to charge criminals by post needed to be “very efficient” to work with all the cuts.
Clr Ken Smith, who sits on the West Yorkshire Police Authority, responded to the news that tens of thousands of criminals will be charged by a letter sent to them through the post.
It’s part of Government plans to cut police bureaucracy, with Home Secretary Theresa May saying it would free up 2.5 million hours of police time.
Clr Smith, Labour’s Ashbrow councillor, said he hoped the administrative burden did not fall on police officers as backroom staff lose their jobs.
“It’s news to me and if it works then fine, but it will have to be very efficient,” Clr Smith said.
“I’ve no strong objections to it, I suspect it will be the minor offences dealt with in this way.
“One thing to note is that the police force is losing a large chunk of its civilian staff, so who will be around to send out all these letters?
“Some police forces are losing 25% of their staff, in West Yorkshire I think we’re losing around 35%, so who will be doing these things?
“It needs to be very efficient and fool-proof – lets hope it doesn’t fall on the officer’s shoulders.”
The Home Secretary says officers must get out from behind their desks and back on to the streets, with the “discretion to do what they think is right, free from the interference of Whitehall, free to do their job, free to fight crime”.
The move is intended to target minor offences including shop-lifting, theft and criminal damage.
Bailed suspects will be sent formal charges through the post instead of being asked to attend police stations.
The Home Office say their plan would allow officers, rather than the Crown Prosecution Service, to decide whether to press charges in up to 80% of cases.
The letter will tell the defendant to attend court on a specific date to answer the charge, rather than calling the suspect to the police station for charging.
Police officers will be given discretion over charging decisions and over how they prioritise calls, while the level of detail they need to collect for paperwork on minor offences will be reduced.
Theresa May said: “A great deal of the day-to-day bureaucracy that police officers encounter is actually generated by their own force.
“So I want police forces across the country to follow our lead. Every single senior police officer should be asking themselves what they personally are doing to rid their officers of red tape.
“If we’ve scrapped a form at national level, there had better be a really good reason for keeping it at local level.
“If we’ve done away with a target nationally, then stop chasing it locally.
“If we’ve got rid of a national regulation, don’t bring in a local replacement.
“We’ve stopped the weary cycle of over-reaction, inquiries, blame, legislation, codes and guidance, and blanket remedial training for all. We will take a different approach – we will trust the police.”
But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “The Home Secretary claims her reforms will save the equivalent of 1,200 police officers, yet she is cutting 10 times that number of officers in the next two years.
“This Government’s cuts to the police are not only taking a risk with the safety of our streets but also risk creating more inefficiency, not less.”