‘Radical police reform needed’

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BURY St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has called for ‘radical reform’ to the police force in the wake of last week’s riots.

As politicians from the three main parties carry out post mortems on the anarchy and a debate rages on planned police cuts, Mr Ruffley has proposed several measures which would increase the number of officers on the front line while slashing bureaucracy and senior management.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph following last Thursday’s Commons debate on the unrest, he noted that the number of officers on the streets, investigating crimes and dealing with emergency calls is as low as 63 per cent in some forces.

Mr Ruffley, who was shadow police minister for three years before resigning from the post in 2010, said: “Even when officers are available, poor management and archaic and restrictive working practices result in shift patterns that simply do not match demand.”

He urged the Home Secretary Theresa May to free up at least 10 million hours in police time a year by overhauling the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Mr Ruffley also called on her to axe the requirement that those who want to serve in the police force must spend two years as a probationary constable.

His other suggestions included creating a new police college based on the model of Sandhurst to ‘attract talented young recruits’ as well as a police reserve similar to the retained firefighters and Territorial Army to ‘bolster neighbourhood policing teams and provide the boots on the ground’. In the article and last week’s Commons debate, he also cited figures from Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary, who said that £1.5 billion a year could be made in police efficiency savings.

Speaking to the Bury Free Press, Mr Ruffley added that he was due to meet with the chief constable of Suffolk Police and the chairman of the county’s police authority to discuss whether there would be more officers patrolling the county’s streets after extra patrols were put on duty during the riots.