A third of police time is wasted on bureaucracy, a report into red tape has revealed.
The work of one student officer investigating a simple burglary was reviewed and directed by nine separate supervisors, the report showed.
And while a superintendent can authorise an officer to carry a firearm on one sheet of paper, a ‘ludicrous’ 16-page form must be filled in by police who want to peek through a window at a suspect.
The volume of paperwork needed to carry out such a simple task has been exposed in a paper to be published by the Government this week as police forces brace themselves for spending cuts.
Research by Jan Berry, former chairman of the Police Federation, found that officers spend a third of their time on pointless bureaucracy.
She said forces, who have ‘armies of people filling out spreadsheets’ to record performance, would have to look at cutting civilian staff.
Mrs Berry, hired two years ago by the Home Office to combat red tape in the police, discovered that an arresting officer must enter the suspect’s details in as many as eight databases.
When a crime is reported, it is assessed by four officers before an investigation even begins.
She also found that student constables investigating burglaries will have nine other officers supervising their work.
Mrs Berry has not identified the force with the 16-page surveillance permission form.
But she said: ‘A superintendent pointed out to me very poignantly that he could sign a piece of paper to authorise someone to be shot but has to fill in a 16-page form to look through a window.’
Mrs Berry discovered that an arresting officer must enter the suspect’s details in as many as eight databases
The form is in two sections. In the first, officers must log details of the investigation, justify the need for surveillance and explain why they cannot pursue alternative action.
In the second they must record how many colleagues will be joining the operation, the ranks of all of them and how they will be deployed.
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