Over the past 15 years or so policing and indeed other parts of the public sector have been dominated by a regime of statistical performance measures, targets and league tables. There is no question that these have had benefits in terms of greater accountability to the public and a stronger focus on continuous improvement and the highlighting of under achievement. As time has gone on however, targets have in some cases become an end in themselves rather than the means to a better service for the public. The Police Service has got very good at achieving targets and knowing what counts towards the target and what does not. In this process the needs of local people have sometimes been ignored. The drive has been more to achieve the targets set by the Home Office rather than to meet the priorities of the public.
The public and indeed the press are getting increasingly bored by statistics and increasingly do not believe them. They believe and trust their own experience. It is great that crime in Greater Manchester is down by 12 per cent but that is not a lot of good to you if your house has been broken into today.
We have now come to a turning point. The Home Secretary announced some time ago that she would not be setting national priorities or targets apart from one priority to cut crime. The election of police and crime commissioners has also signalled a fundamental shift in the balance of power between the Home Office and local people. Our own PCC Tony Lloyd has also made it clear that he is not interested in setting statistical targets but is determined to see the service and the protection of the public improved. He wants us to find other ways of proving this to the public other than statistics which they public largely do not believe anyway.
The PCC has launched a public consultation exercise on his police and crime plan. At the same time GMP is asking the public to tell us how do they judge whether the police are doing a good or a bad job. What gives you confidence in local policing ? How would you like the performance of the police to be measured ? What more information could we be providing to tell you what we are doing ?
We will still collect and use statistics. It is important that we record crime accurately and use it to identify trends and to direct police activity. We are still determined to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. The PCC will be setting a range of objectives for us to concentrate on that reflect the priorities of local people. This is about how we account for, and measure, what we do and what are the improvements to the service which mean most to the public. You can tell us what you think using the link on the website www.gmp.police.uk