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Performance, not targets police told

PUBLISHED: 10:17 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:00 30 June 2010

Police officers in Norfolk have been ordered to abandon their pursuit of crime figure reductions as the county's chief constable said “we must improve performance, not chase targets”.

Police officers in Norfolk have been ordered to abandon their pursuit of crime figure reductions as the county's chief constable said “we must improve performance, not chase targets”.

Norfolk police is set to phase out its “safest county in England” tag in recognition of its belief that, while the county's crime levels remain among the lowest, the public has little interest in statistics. Instead officers will be told it is acceptable for crime figures to grow in some categories, as long as the public's confidence in officers also improves.

Chief constable Phil Gormley said forces nationwide had become too focussed on performance targets - sometimes at the expense of the relationship between police and the communities they serve. The new focus will encourage bobbies to “do the right thing” rather than simply tick boxes.

His comments come as Norfolk police constable Dominic de Souza, 31, stands trial at Norwich Crown Court accused of unfairly issuing cautions and warnings to teenagers to boost the number of detected crimes recorded under his name. Although Mr Gormley did not comment on the case, it has highlighted claims that officers feel under pressure to meet performance targets.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Gormley said: “There are certain types of crime - such as burglary and violent crime - in which I will absolutely not tolerate increases. Burglary, for example, tends to be well-reported so an increase would indicate a genuine problem.

“But there are other crimes, particularly domestic violence and hate crime, which have far-reaching consequences and are traditionally under-reported.

“If we record more of these kinds of offences it does not necessarily mean more crimes are actually occurring but that people feel able to contact us when they need help and we are getting a better picture of what is really happening on our streets.

“The danger is you can hit the target but miss the point. What I want is proactive, confident policing by officers who are not constantly worried about whether or not a crime should be recorded.

“It is about clear leadership at all levels but put simply, if an officer is about to do something that they would be proud to happen to their own family, they should do it. If they would be uncomfortable with something happening to their own family, they should not do it.”

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