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Home Secretary gives first major speech on policing

In a speech to the Police Federation of England and Wales, Theresa May announced plans to cut bureaucracy and give them more freedom.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Home Secretary said she would not ‘run the police’. Instead she vowed to work to free them from the red tape that makes their jobs more difficult.

Read the text of the Home Secretary’s speech.

Directly elected individuals to hold police to account

Mrs May announced that the government plans to allow people to directly elect some individuals to provide a visible, accountable link between the police service and the public. Instead of answering to Whitehall, they would answer to local voters and have a mandate to set local policing priorities.

‘That mandate will have been earned through election, and those policing priorities will have been developed with the consent of local people,’ she said. ‘This is what we mean by democratic, not bureaucratic, accountability.’

Returning responsibility to police

Mrs May said police need more powers so that they can take more responsibility for their own work. How each police force operates should be decided by its own leaders. She also announced plans to give police more discretion in how they conduct their day-to-day work.

Mrs May said: ‘So we will return some charging decisions to the police.  Instead of waiting around police stations for a charging decision, you the officer will be given the responsibility to decide whether to charge for minor offences.’

In addition, the Home Secretary announced that the government will review health and safety rules that impact police work because, at the moment, some legislation discourages officers from intervening in certain cases.

‘We want to tip the scale back, while at the same time ensuring your safety,’ Mrs May said.

Reducing bureaucracy

The government will look at dismantling Key Performance Indicators - which she called ‘targets in disguise’. Instead, it will allow police to investigate crimes and criminals as they see fit.

The Home Secretary also announced that the government would change how it handled stop and search.

‘I am determined that we will be the government that finally gets to grips with all that paperwork you find so frustrating,’ she said. ‘So we will scrap the “stop” form in its entirety and reduce the burden of the “stop and search” procedures.’

Published 19 May 2010