27/07/2010

Radical Police Reforms Announced

Plans for a radical overhaul of policing in England and Wales have been unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The plans include the introduction of locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners and a new National Crime Agency.

The first elections for the new commissioners, who will oversee each police force in England and Wales, will be held in May 2012.

The new FBI-style National Crime Agency, which will replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), will lead the fight against organised crime and strengthen border security.

The Soca had been criticised by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee after figures revealed that only £1 was seized from organised criminal gangs for every £15 in the agency's budget.

There are also plans to phase out the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

The Home Secretary also said that the measures would encourage greater collaboration between police forces to increase public protection and drive savings, reduce bureaucracy, remove restrictive health and safety procedures and free up officers' time.

Announcing the proposals, Mrs May said: "For too long, people have been faced with crime levels that are too high and a police service that has been too focused on Whitehall targets to really get to grips with what matters locally."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "It is vital that police officers are free to tackle the crime and antisocial behaviour that matters most to people, not tied-down by bureaucracy and form-filling. The fundamental reforms we are announcing today continue our work to deliver a police service that is visible and accountable to the very people it serves in communities up and down the country.

"By replacing invisible police authorities with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners, we can forge a direct link between the police and the public, ensuring that the public have a voice in setting police priorities and have the power to hold the police to account for keeping our streets safe and secure."

(KMcA)

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