Supplementary notes submitted by the Rt
Hon John Denham MP, Minister of State, Home Office following the
evidence session on 21 March 2002
POLICE REFORM BILL
During my evidence session with the Committee
on 21 March, I gave a number of commitments to write. I am also
taking this opportunity to clarify a couple of other matters discussed
during the session.
Changes to detection rates as quoted in the White
Paper "Policing a New Century"
Between 1980 and 1997, there were no official
changes that impacted on detection rates, save for minor changes
in the coverage of notifiable offences due to legislation.
In 1998, changes were made to crime counting
rules. The changes took effect from 1 April 1998. They:
brought new offencessuch as
common assault, cruelty/neglect of childreninto the numbers
changed the way some existing crimes
were countedeg cheque card fraud; and
abolished collective protection (where
multiple offences committed in a secure location such as a car
park, were recorded singly regardless of the number of victims).
The impact of the 1998 counting rules changes
is estimated, in its first year, to have been to increase detection
rates overall by two percentage points. The 29 per cent detection
rate reported would have been 27 per cent had the rules not changed.
The effect is not uniform across all crime. For example, common
assault had a lower detection rate (58 per cent) than the overall
detection rate for violence against the person (79 per cent),
so its introduction would have lowered detection rates; whereas
assault on a constable (97 per cent) had a higher detection rate
than the overall rate for violence against the person, so would
have raised detection rates.
In 1999, guidance on detection methods was issued.
It took effect from 1 April 1999. The main changes were:
Criteria of "sufficient evidence
to charge" introduced, for all detections.
Detections as a result of interviews
with serving prisoners no longer included.
Offences can still be "taken
into consideration" by the courtprovided there is
evidence of the crime having taken place, and sufficient evidence
It is still possible to detect a
crime as "no further action", where evidence becomes
available during sentence that is, regardless of admission, sufficient
to charge the offender.
The combined effect of the 1998 and 1999 changes
is estimated to have been an increase of about one percentage
point in the detection rate for 1999-2000. Thus, the 25 per cent
detection rate for that year would have been 24 per cent under
the old counting rules and without the changes to the guidance.
One might tentatively suppose the effect of the guidance on detections
only to be of the order of a drop of one point in the detection
Hence the figure of 24 per cent quoted in the White Paper for
the detection rate in 1999-2000 is an attempt to make a like-with-like
comparison with the 1980 detection rate by removing the effect
of the 1998 and 1999 changes. In any case, it is clear that the
impact of the changes on the figures is marginal and does not
account for the significant drop in detection rates over the last
Increased awareness of the need for accurate
data and for meaningful comparison with other forces may have
lead individual forces to change their own recording practices.
The main drivers for this were:
Problem solving policing, intelligence
led policing, crime and disorder audits rely on the analysis of
Identification of best practice,
and understanding causes of variation, rely on consistency with
other forces and BCUs.
There were some incidents involving
the ethics and practices of crime recording that received a high
profile and may well have encouraged all forces to take stock
of their own crime recording. If formerly crimes might not have
been recorded unless detection was likely, any change to record
more crimes would lead to a reduced detection rate.
However, it is not possible to quantify from
current figures the effect of such changes.
The decline in detection rates is not uniform
across all forces. In part, this will be due to local changes
in response to those drivers mentioned above, at different paces
in each force. Similarly, forces will have responded at different
speeds to concerns about prison visits, prior to the 1999 guidance.
Nonetheless, probably a more important reason
for the variation is the "crime mix" of each force.
Different types of crime, by their nature, tend to have different
detection rates. Possession of drugs and shop theft, for example,
require an offender to be present when the offence is reported,
so tend to have high detection rates. This is unlike crime such
as burglary, where evidence of an offence can be discovered long
after it was committed, and the offender may be far away. One
would expect the detection rate for drug possession to be higher
than that for burglary. So, the overall detection rate for force
A, covering an area where drug offences form a high proportion
of its crime, will be inherently different from that in force
B, dealing with fewer drug offences and more burglary. For this
reason, it is more instructive to look at detection rates for
individual offences, than the overall detection rate. It is intended
to include such analysis in future assessments of crime statistics.
The only specific change of which we are aware
is that Avon & Somerset stopped using "detected no proceedings"
detections from 1 April 2000. This change has yet to be formally
I have included two attachments: guidance pre-1999
(Annex A), and guidance on the 1999 changes (Annex B).
Purchase of Vehicles (Q 547)
The Police Information Technology Organisation
(PITO) has a close relationship with the National Association
of Police Fleet Managers, and working in conjunction with them
offers 17 centrally negotiated framework arrangements for the
supply of police vehicles. This covers the whole spectrum of police
requirements, from 4-wheel drives to high and low performance
vehicles. The estimated annual spend under these arrangements
is £100 million per annum. It is estimated that the central
negotiation of these arrangements saves the police service some
£10 million annually. In addition, recognising the benefits
of concentration of demand and further aggregation of purchasing
power, the most recent arrangements "triple sourced"
low performance police specification vehicles with three manufacturers,
achieving further discounts and an additional estimated saving
of £1.6 million per annum.
Framework arrangements are also in place for
additional vehicle-related services such as tyres and replacement
of windscreens, although these are not always as advantageous
due to local discounting.
Forces can obtain even greater discounts by
entering into sole supply agreements wherein at least 51 per cent
of the fleet is provided by one manufacturer. Some forces have
found this arrangement to meet their needsfor example Devon
and Cornwall, and Northumbriawhereas others have not.
Inspecting against the framework purchasing
agreements forms a standard part of HMIC's inspection process
within all forces. HMIC has concluded that the discounts resulting
from the agreements are better than forces could negotiate individually
and therefore represent good value for money. The last major study
undertaken by the Audit Commission into police fleet issues was
more than 10 years ago. In response to the Commission's annual
consultation exercise regarding its future work, in December 2001
HMIC asked that the Commission consider re-examining this area.
Five forces reviewed their fleet and transportation
arrangements during year one of Best Value, 2000-01 (Cleveland,
Gloucestershire, Kent, North Yorkshire and South Wales); three
forces did so during year two (Avon and Somerset, Greater Manchester
and Merseyside). HMIC undertook inspections of all five of the
year one Best Value Reviews in 2001-02. The Kent and North Yorkshire
reviews are instructive.
In Kent, independent consultants found that
the framework agreements represent good value for money, although
they concluded that even better value could be obtained if forces
combined their projected vehicle needs into one large contract
annually. In practice, this could prove difficult as vehicle needs
vary considerably according to local environmental and operational
needs. This is clearly not a "one size fits all" issue.
A different situation was found in North Yorkshire
where the number and types of vehicle had grown rapidly over recent
years. The report concluded that the fleet needed to be rationalised
so that full advantage could be taken of bulk purchasing opportunities.
Whilst this review had a narrower focus to the one undertaken
in Kent, it demonstrates an awareness of, and commitment to, the
need for developing an appropriate infrastructure so that advantage
can be taken of more efficient purchasing arrangements.
Parliamentary scrutiny of regulations made under
clause 7 (Q 548)
In line with the recommendation of the House
of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform
(Twelfth Report 7 February 2002), clause 7 was amended at Lords
Committee Stage to provide for the affirmative resolution procedure
to apply on the first use of the regulation-making power. Subsequent
uses of the power will be subject to the negative resolution procedure.
Medical retirements (Qq 563-565)
We believe that the courts have made it clear
that the police authority, or senior management acting on their
behalf, have discretion under regulation A20 of the Police Pensions
Regulations 1987 to decide against medical retirement if in their
view the medical case for ill-health retirement is outweighed
by the need, in the public interest, to ensure that disciplinary
proceedings are brought to a conclusion against the officer, or
in order for the officer to perform a particular job. In our view
the medical evidence has to be taken into account, but is not
Although it would be unreasonable to expect
all officers in a force to be fully fit for the ordinary duties
of a constable, it would be equally unreasonable for a force to
have no fit officers. There need to be enough fit officers available
to chief constables to enable them to meet their operational demands.
It is therefore necessary for a police authority to have the power
to retire an officer compulsorily if he or she is permanently
disabled and unable to perform the ordinary duties of a constable.
There may be occasions on which a police authority will have little
room for manoeuvre and have to opt for ill-health retirement,
but we would expect an authority to exercise their discretion
to retain a permanently disabled officer wherever that is practicable.
Our policy for the reform programme is that authorities and senior
management should ensure wherever possible the retention of officers
in service where they are still capable of undertaking sufficient
duties to justify continuing employment.
We intend to amend regulation A20 of the Police
Pensions Regulations (which gives the final say in ill-health
retirement cases to the police authority) to underline the fact
that the authority has the discretion to require an officer who
has been certified as permanently disabled to continue in service
if it believes that is the appropriate course after considering
all the relevant circumstances. In this context, relevant circumstances
include such factors as outstanding disciplinary proceedings against
the officer or the advice of the chief constable that he has a
job for the officer. As well as amending the regulations we plan
to issue detailed guidance to police authorities and senior management
to ensure more consistent and effective practice in applying their
discretion under the regulations.
Intervention of Secretary of State in disciplinary
proceedings (Qq 573-4)
It would not be right for the Home Secretary
or anyone else to be able to take further action if they thought
that disciplinary action that has been taken was not appropriate.
This could amount to something like double jeopardy. However,
if we look at this in terms of proposed disciplinary action, then,
as I indicated in my oral evidence, the IPCC will have the power
to intervene if it considered the disciplinary action proposed
was not appropriate. I do not believe such intervention should
be extended to the Home Secretary because it could be construed
as unnecessary interference into matters that are clearly the
responsibility of the chief officer and the police authority.
It is sufficient for the IPCC to be able to intervene in this
way because it provides an independent check on decisions. This
should go a long way towards building public confidence in the
The provisions in the Bill (as with the present
system) do not allow the officer facing an allegation of misconduct
to have his case looked at by the IPCC. This power is reserved
for the IPCC alone following a voluntary or mandatory referral
of the conduct matter by the appropriate authority (ie the chief
officer or the police authority) to the IPCC. If a conduct matter
was recordable, it would enable both the appropriate authority
to refer it to the IPCC and the IPCC to call it in. There are
different ways of making a conduct matter recordable and the Bill
deals with these. One of these is by regulations made by the Secretary
of State. An alleged conduct matter appearing in a press article
may be recordable via this route, particularly if it involved
a senior officer (ie one of ACPO rank) and if the matter attracted
high public interest.
I should add that the detailed arrangements
in respect of police disciplinary procedures are all set out in
secondary legislation (The Police (Conduct) Regulations 1999 and
The Police (Conduct) (Senior Officers) Regulations 1999), as such
primary legislation is not required to effect any changes.
Case law on meaning of reasonable force (Q 587)
The term "reasonable force" has been
considered in a number of cases, but no rigid meaning has been
given to it. Case-law stresses the need to consider the facts
in each individual situation in order to assess whether reasonable
force was used. The facts as they appeared to the person using
the force are important. Police forces instruct their officers
on what is meant by reasonable force and I expect the same instruction
to be given to community support officers. The Metropolitan Police,
for example, give the following advice to their officers:
"Officers have a duty to act
professionally and should the use of force be justified, only
the amount of force that is reasonable may lawfully be used. Officers
may subsequently be called to defend and justify their actions
and to prove that their actions were reasonable.
Before resorting to the use of force,
officers should consider alternative methods of achieving their
objective without the necessity of a physical confrontation.
Communication skills are a fundamental
requirement for effective policing and must always be the first
choice before resorting to the use of force.
The lawful use of force in any circumstances
invariably includes the overriding principle that it must be reasonable
and necessary. As such, the exercise of any power for which the
use of force is contemplated should also be reasonable and necessary.
It is therefore extremely important
that officers are fully aware of their powers in relation to the
use of force. It is well proven that in stressful situations officers
who have a thorough understanding of use of force legislation
are better equipped to apply their powers with the necessary skill,
confidence, control and within the boundaries set by legislation."
Restarting the clock after 30 minute limit on
power to detain has elapsed (Q 603)
The clock does not start again after 30 minutes.
The detained person would be allowed to leave. However, if he
has committed an offence there is nothing to stop the police subsequently
taking appropriate action, with the CSO acting as a witness.
Police pensions (Q 620)
None of the improvements to police pensions
that we eventually want to implement will need primary legislation,
since they can be made by regulations under the provisions of
section 1 of the Police Pensions Act 1976. Hence the Police Reform
Bill would not in any case be the vehicle for change.
Bicycles in "Open All Hours" (Q 637)
Open All Hours does not explicitly talk
about officers using bicycles. Rather, it looks at how the bureaucracy
surrounding the police receiving lost and stolen bicycles can
be reduced. However, I agree that officers on bicycles can increase
reassurance and visibility. One of the small number of reassurance
pilot projects we funded last year involved providing some officers
in Lewisham, South London, with bicycles to increase their visibility
and the areas they covered whilst on patrol.
The Rt Hon John Denham MP, Minister of State,
22 It is not possible to completely disaggregate the
two changes, as the effects overlap, as do "bedding in"
Not printed. Back