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The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May):
I am today setting out some further details of the Government's approach to police reform. Policing governance has become distorted and over-
centralised in recent years and the Government are committed to ensuring that accountability and transparency are firmly at the heart of policing.
The first step for reform must be the return of proper operational responsibility to chief constables and their teams and that for this to work effectively there needs to be a redesign of the current performance landscape. The police service needs more freedom from central control-fewer centrally driven targets and less intervention and interference from Government. That is why I am announcing that we are abolishing the centrally imposed target on police forces to improve public confidence and we will scrap the policing pledge. Police forces need to be accountable instead to their communities.
To achieve greater accountability, the public need better information about their police and about local crime. This is why we will make sure that crime data are published at a level that allows the public to see what is happening on their streets, enabling the public to hold the police and other local agencies to account for how they are dealing with problems in their area. We will also require police forces to hold regular "beat meetings" to provide residents with the opportunity to put forward their concerns and hold the police to account.
In the future, the establishment of a directly elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing-and if necessary removing-the local chief constable, will strengthen local accountability for policing. We will publish further details on our reform of policing later in the summer, which will assist our discussions with the public and our partners, and inform the Government's preparations for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill in the autumn.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The Department for Transport has today issued a consultation document on proposals to empower examiners from VOSA with powers to stop commercial vehicles for inspection throughout Great Britain. At present their powers are restricted to England and Wales.
The new powers will help them to ensure that commercial vehicles and their drivers comply with road traffic law. Similar minor additions will be made to Northern Ireland legislation where no comparable powers already exist in relation to the stopping powers for the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) staff.
It also means Government can be more responsive to economic conditions and local need, which will enable us to let larger, longer contracts, encouraging greater investment and creating the circumstances for a proper rate of return for investors and meaningful social return for the taxpayer.
In the autumn, starting in Burnley and Aberdeen, we will ask incapacity benefit claimants to attend a work capability assessment. The rest of the country will follow, with reviews taking place when the normal benefit review is due.
The coalition amendment established an independent review, which Professor Malcolm Harrington has agreed to lead, to scrutinise the assessment process. This will ensure people are treated fairly and assessments are transparent. The report will be completed by the end of the year.
Today the coalition Government take a firm but fair hold of the welfare system. This approach will bring
about transformational change in the benefits system, helping people leave benefits and work towards a better quality of life for themselves and their families.