HC Deb 04 December 2002 vol 395 c874W
David Maclean:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reduce the time spent by police officers on paperwork and administrative tasks; and if he will make a statement on police morale. [84208]

Mr. Denham

We are committed to tackling the administrative burdens and inefficient working practices that keep officers off the streets. Sir David O'Dowd's task force was commissioned to give the Government a police service view of what could be done to tackle the administrative burdens and inefficient working practices which keep police officers off the streets. The task force report, published on 17 September, highlighted ways to free up significant amounts of officers' time. A steering group, co-chaired by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office, is taking the task force recommendations forward. This is a vital opportunity to bring about a real difference to the everyday lives of officers on the front line.

We have turned around the decline in police numbers that started under the last Government. The investment has been made to deliver a record number of police officers and there are now 5,400 more officers than two years ago. We are on course for our targets of 130,000 officers by March 2003 and 132,500 in 2004. We have also reached agreement on a package of reforms to police pay and conditions of service that is good for the service, for rank and file officers and for the public. We will ensure that officers know and feel that they are valued.