London Assembly Member James Cleverly raised the scope of police bureaucracy at last month's Mayor of London's Question Time.
I recognise and applaud the measures that have been taken recently to reduce the bureaucracy but there is one area in particular that I would like to explore and that is the book of guidelines – the standing operating procedures – that the Metropolitan Police Service has imposed on it from a number of sources including the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
It currently runs, as I stated in the question, to nearly 6,500 pages. Would you agree with me that guidelines such as the 21 page guidelines on the policing of international and other high risk cricket matches could probably be filleted? Do we really need guidelines about, I quote – “If 12 or more persons invade the cricket pitch, resulting in a high degree of mob violence, damage and disruption to the public police” then the police could arrest those involved for riot.
There are also 14 pages of guidelines on how to use handcuffs and there are also guidelines on breaking windows for entry into properties which includes the line – and again I quote – “If breaking glass is the option, choose panels near the ground to reduce having to climb to gain entry”
If we are going to recruit police officers in whom we trust, and if we are going to value their ability to act independently, then surely there would be huge advantages to dramatically reducing the number of guidelines that they have imposed upon them?
You are right, and I know, James , that you are going to be taking all that kind of thing up in the valuable work you do on the MPA. I think that is exactly the kind of surplus guidance and surplus information and advice that the police could do without.