6 Police and Crime Commissioners |
118. Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are elected,
and have assumed responsibility for setting policing priorities
and the power to hire and fire the Chief Constable. They are accountable
to the local electorate for the performance of the local police
force in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.There is therefore
a danger that central Government's efforts to remove targets will
be undermined by locally-set targets and electoral pressures.
119. A number of PCCs have refused to set numerical
targets, mindful of their distorting effects. For example, Nick
Alston, PCC in Essex, told us:
reducing numerical targets seemed to be absolutely
key, so I took away the numerical targets from Essex policing.
[...] I am very aware of the susceptibility of crime statistics
to be worked in all sorts of different ways.
120. During the course of this inquiry, we wrote,
on 6 December 2013, to all 43 Police and Crime Commissioners in
England and Wales to ask them:
· What, if any, targets they set for their
police force and what impact they think this has on police recording
· How they assure themselves that the recorded
crime figures for their area are correct and to what extent can
they trust the crime statistics for their area.
121. The replies are published on our website as
evidence to this inquiry, along with evidence submitted by some
PCCs to our original call for evidence. Three PCCs gave oral evidence
to PASC on 19 November 2013, the Deputy Mayor of London, who acts
as PCC for London gave oral evidence on 8 January 2014,and three
different PCCs gave oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee
on 26 November 2013.(Some
of those PCCs who gave oral evidence also submitted written evidence.)
122. Out of the 42pieces of written and oral evidence
from PCCs, 16PCCs told us they have set specific numerical targets
in their local Police and Crime Plans, such as "to achieve
a 12% reduction in overall crime" (Hampshire) or "to
reduce burglary by 2%" (Thames Valley). A notable example
of this is the Metropolitan Police: the Mayor's Office for Policing
and Crime (MOPAC) has set a range of targets under the heading
'MOPAC 20/20/20'-including a target to reduce the 'MOPAC 7' group
of offences by 20%. The Deputy Mayor of London for Policing told
the Committee that the target was designed to mitigate risks (sexual
offences are excluded from the target, while acquisitive crimes
cannot easily be reclassified/downgraded out of the scope of MOPAC
7 as the relevant categories are included).
123. The definition of 'target' is a grey area however.
The Wiltshire PCC has "thresholds" which are numerical
and indicate the upper and lower boundaries between which he would
expect his own force's performance to sit. Most of the other PCCs
have some kind of "performance measures" or "ambitions",
which, whilst not being numerical, are in place in order for the
PCC to indicate expected performance from the local force. For
example, the Avon and Somerset PCC has set the ambition for the
burglary crime rate to be in the "top 10" performing
124. A number of PCCs, such as the PCC for Essex,
stated they were concerned about the perverse incentives targets
can introduce, leading tomisrecording of crime. Several stated
that, on becoming the PCC, they had explicitly done away with
targets.However, others stated that it was important to have at
least some performance measures as part of their role in holding
the local police force to account, setting expectations and meeting
the wishes of the public. Most stated that performance measures
were only part of the way in which they monitored the performance
of the police and that they had measures in place to mitigate
the risks that targets might introduce.
125. Several PCCs mentioned that in some areas they
would welcome an increase in the recorded incidence of
some types of crime, if this was because more victims were coming
forward, for example, in reporting rapes.
126. The Police
and Crime Commissioner(PCC) role, and the political and electoral
pressures that PCCs are subject to, has the potential to foster
target cultures within forces, with consequent perverse incentives
and detrimental impact on data quality.There is considerable variance
across the country in the use of targets by PCCs.
127. Some PCCs consider the perverse incentives
created by targets to be so serious that they have dropped all
targets. Others believe the risk is manageable. As part of its
annual audit programme, HMIC should examine the effect of PCC
target-setting on crime recording practices and culture, and should
in due course look back at the first PCC period in office to assess
the impact on data integrity of locally-set targets.
128. The Home Office, which claims credit for
abolishing national numerical targets, should make clear in its
guidance to PCCs that they should not setperformance targets based
on Police Recorded Crime data as this tends to distort recording
practices and to create perverse incentives to misrecord crime.
The evidence for this is incontrovertible. In the meantime, we
deprecate such target setting in the strongest possible terms.
Police Recorded Crimedata should not be used as the basis for
personal performance appraisal or for making decisions about remuneration
or promotion. We regard such practice as a flawed leadership model,
contrary to the policing Code of Ethics.
110 Q92 Back
Oral evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee, 26 November
2013, HC (2013-14) 757-i Back
Q367 [Stephen Greenhalgh] Back