Police boss vows to cut paperwork to boost fight against crime
West Mercia's Police Commissioner has vowed to clamp down on bureaucracy as part of a new approach to policing across the region.
John Campion says he wants to put an end to officers being hampered by "bureaucratic internal processes" and ineffective technology so they can focus on the job of fighting crime.
It came as a new report warned that overworked and understaffed police forces feel they are letting the public down due to an inability to solve crimes.
Some front-line officers and staff feel stressed, depressed and are having to work under "constant pressure", according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report conducted for the Home Office's Front Line review.
The review said that mental health issues among officers were being heightened by force budget cuts and in some cases, a lack of adequate support.
- Value for money key in future collaborations, says West Mercia Police chief
- Shropshire Star comment: This bitter divorce is damaging
The review has proposed a new approach to policing, which centres on reducing demand on officers by cutting bureaucracy, so they can focus on fighting crime.
It has been welcomed by Mr Campion, who said: "It is important that officers aren’t hampered by bureaucratic internal processes and ineffective technology or drawn away from core policing because of ineffectiveness of other services, such as mental health.
"Reforming West Mercia Police remains a key part of what I want to deliver as commissioner and there is still significant potential to deliver more effective, efficiently run services.
"This includes the ending of the alliance with Warwickshire Police. This arrangement has undoubtedly led to additional bureaucracy, and a reduction of clarity, autonomy and control for West Mercia.
"I am pleased that Government are listening to the frontline, addressing the right balance between meeting demands and supporting individuals, and I am committed to doing the same locally.”
The force is having to find savings of £24.3 million by 2021 in order to balance its budget. It has recruited 215 new police officers, a move which Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said would help to address issues around demand.
He added: “I welcome that the Home Office now has this important insight from frontline policing, which reinforces what senior officers have been saying for some time and highlights the need for additional central support as we continue to address these issues locally.”
The Home Office has pledged to look at shift patterns to give officers more time for personal and professional development, and to look after their well-being, as well as encouraging police bosses and staff to solve "internal bureaucracies" such as administration problems and inefficiencies.
Policing Minister Nick Hurd has announce extra mental health support for officers, while new guidance will be introduced to "take the strain off the front line" by encouraging officers to push back on "inappropriate" calls for help to share the workload from other public bodies.
This would free up police to focus on tackling crime and ensure vulnerable people got support from the right place, the Home Office said.