Police spend less time on the beat

TIME spent on frontline policing in Suffolk has decreased for the third successive year, a report revealed today.

TIME spent on frontline policing in Suffolk has decreased for the third successive year, a report revealed today.

The force is now ranked fourth from bottom nationally in the percentage of time it spends on frontline duties, including patrols, inquiries and interviewing.

The statistics have been published in a paper for Suffolk Police Authority's monitoring and audit committee, due to be discussed on Friday .

It states that time spent on frontline duties has fallen from 63 per cent in 2003/04 to 60.06pc in 2004/05 and 59.5pc in 2005/06.

The report blames a change in the calculation method of analysing frontline policing as one of the factors behind the drop.

However, there is also suggestion that officers may not be defining the nature of their work correctly when surveyed.

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The report said: “Analysis has shown that the officers in the constabulary recorded one of the highest proportions of time spent on 'other non incident-related work' in the country. This is time not spent dealing with a particular crime or incident, and was generally time spent inside the police station.

“Whilst there is a certain amount of difficulty in ascertaining precisely what these activities were, a recent pilot exercise in Felixstowe suggests that better education of officers in understanding and completing the (recording) form could significantly reduce time captured in this category.”

The force is looking to implement an action plan in a bid to improve the statistics.

Measures include a review of all posts defined as non-front line to consider their necessity, continued efforts to implement web based technology to reduce paperwork and the employment of additional police community support officers.

The report says the risks attached to not implementing the plan could result in “continued poor performance against the frontline policing measure”.

It could also have an adverse effect on the force's Suffolk First for You strategy, the aims of which include providing a responsive and visible service.

Measures have already taken place to improve frontline policing in the force's southern area with a major review undertaken by KMPG earlier this year.

It led to the implementation of a crime inputting bureau to enable officers to report crime details at the scene of the incident, thus preventing them having to return to the station.

Do you think officers spend enough time on the beat? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail: eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Weblinks: www.suffolk.police.uk;

www.eveningstar.co.uk/news

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