Graham Colley, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner for Kent, is calling on Priti Patel not to impose centralised crime targets on local police forces, warning it "would be a grave mistake" that "risks seriously undermining" police officers.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Graham Colley, alongside the party's Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael and 26 other candidates for Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner, writes that "the police need to be responsive and accountable to their local communities, not micromanaged by Ministers in Whitehall."
The Guardian recently reported that the Home Office has discussed with police chiefs plans to set targets for reductions in certain types of crime, "in return for government providing the money for 20,000 new officers".
The Liberal Democrats argue that the Government should instead be focusing on "ensuring that police forces can restore proper community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people."
Graham Colley, Liberal Democrat candidate for Kent PCC, said: "Making local police officers chase arbitrary targets handed down from Whitehall won't make our communities in Kent any safer. All it does is waste police time and undermine public trust and confidence.
"The Government must abandon these plans. What people in Kent really need are more police officers with the resources and time to focus on preventing and solving crimes."
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael added: "It seems Priti Patel is the latest Home Secretary who thinks she can do the police's job better than local police chiefs and officers on the ground.
"This is yet another example of Conservative Ministers trying hard to seem tough on crime, but failing to do what works to actually prevent it.
"That's why the Liberal Democrats are opposing these plans for damaging centralised targets and urging the Government instead to work with local forces to restore proper community policing."
Full text of the letter to the Home Secretary:
Dear Home Secretary,
We are writing to raise serious concerns about reports that the Government is planning to impose new, centralised crime targets on police forces across England and Wales.
We read with alarm a recent report in The Guardian that your Department has discussed with police chiefs plans for the Home Office to set targets for reductions in certain types of crime, "in return for government providing the money for 20,000 new officers".
A return to the dark days of targets imposed from Whitehall would be a grave mistake that risks seriously undermining the vital work police officers are doing to tackle crime and keep our communities safe.
Even before the Covid pandemic hit, the UK was in the grip of an epidemic of serious violence. Robberies are also rising, and too many crimes go unsolved. Our police are overstretched, and many communities see no visible policing.
Recruiting 20,000 extra police officers is a very important part of tackling these problems, and something the Liberal Democrats have been calling for for years. Providing funding for local police forces to recruit these officers is long overdue, and must not be used by the Government as an excuse to tie their hands with pointless centralised targets.
The police need to be responsive and accountable to their local communities, not micromanaged by Ministers in Whitehall.
The Government should focus on ensuring that, with these extra officers, police forces can restore proper community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people.
Rather than wasting police officers' time trying to achieve arbitrary government targets, they must be given the time to gather the intelligence that is vital for both preventing and solving crimes, to forge relationships with individuals in the community, and to work in partnership with schools, youth services, community groups and other local organisations.
We therefore ask you to confirm what, if any, plans for crime targets your Department has drawn up, and we urge you to abandon them.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson
Luisa Porritt, Candidate for Mayor of London
Simon Lepori, Candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester
Stewart Golton, Candidate for Mayor of West Yorkshire
Heather Shearer, Candidate for Avon & Somerset PCC
Jasbir Parmar, Candidate for Bedfordshire PCC
Rupert Moss-Eccardt, Candidate for Cambridgeshire PCC
Jo Conchie, Candidate for Cheshire PCC
Mark Christie, Candidate for Cumbria PCC
Brian Blake, Candidate for Devon & Cornwall PCC
Anne-Marie Curry, Candidate for Durham PCC
Richard Murphy, Candidate for Hampshire PCC
Graham Colley, Candidate for Kent PCC
Kris Brown, Candidate for Merseyside PCC
John Crofts, Candidate for Norfolk PCC
David Watts, Candidate for Nottinghamshire PCC
James Sandbach, Candidate for Suffolk PCC
Paul Kennedy, Candidate for Surrey PCC
Jamie Bennett, Candidate for Sussex PCC
John Howson, Candidate for Thames Valley PCC
Margaret Rowley, Candidate for West Mercia PCC
Jon Hunt, Candidate for West Midlands PCC
Liz Webster, Candidate for Wiltshire PCC
Aidan Van de Weyer, Candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough
Richard Kemp, Candidate for Mayor of Liverpool
Andy Corkhill, Candidate for Mayor of the Liverpool City Region
Jenny Wilkinson, Candidate for Mayor of the West Midlands
Stephen Williams, Candidate for Mayor of the West of England
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