Liz Truss and Suella Braverman’s plan to issue police with targets to cut crimes including murder by 20 per cent has been paused as officers demand engagement with the governemnt.
The former prime minister announced the policy as part of her successful Conservative Party leadership campaign in July, and it was confirmed by Ms Braverman as home secretary.
The Independent understands that the targets, dismissed as “incoherent” and dangerous by police sources, were in an early stage of development and would have to be re-approved by new home secretary Grant Shapps to progress.
But he is not making any major policy decisions before the new prime minister is named and selects their cabinet, which could see yet another new home secretary put in post.
Ms Braverman’s shock resignation on Wednesday came before she had met key policing bodies and attended a host of planned engagement events in November.
A meeting of the National Policing Board, which is chaired by the home secretary and brings police leaders and government departments together four times a year, is overdue and has already been repeatedly delayed by government instability.
Among the bodies who were due to meet Ms Braverman is the Police Federation, which represents more than 120,000 rank-and-file officers in England and Wales.
Writing for The Independent last month, chair Steve Hartshorn said it was “disappointing and dangerous to see policies which have failed so disastrously in the past be promoted and presented as brand-new ideas”.
“Crime cannot be controlled by a government-issued, headline-friendly diktat asking police forces to cut serious crimes such as homicide by 20 per cent or else face action,” he warned.
”Law and order must be free from the ebb and flow of politics.”
The Police Federation wrote a letter to Mr Shapps on Thursday, asking him to commit to a 9 November meeting originally scheduled with his predecessor.
The body said it was necessary to “discuss the very real issues and challenges that our members are facing right now, in particular, around police pay and the ongoing cost of living crisis”.
The Police Superintendents’ Association, which represents senior officers, was also expecting a meeting with the home secretary next month, while an unnamed “senior government minister” is due to give a keynote speech at a major police summit on 9 November.
Suella Braverman quits as home secretary with scathing attack on Liz Truss
The joint conference held by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners is normally attended by the home secretary and policing minister, but both posts may have new incumbents by that date.
Laying out her policies on crime and policing in July, Ms Truss told police she would expect them to cut homicide, serious violence and “neighbourhood crime” by 20 per cent before the next general election.
Ms Braverman used almost identical wording in a letter to police leaders across England and Wales last month and repeated the demand in her Tory conference speech, without giving an end date.
No further details were ever given publicly and The Independent understands that the Home Office was still working out how the cut would be measured and against what baseline when the home secretary resigned on Wednesday.
Crime is counted both by police recording and a survey of people’s experiences, with different methods considered more accurate for different types of crime, while it was unclear what date the cut would be judged from.
Last week, police and crime commissioners said they had not been formally consulted on the plans or been given any details, and that there would “need to be discussion” and “sensible negotiations”.
A 2015 report found that previous crime targets created “perverse incentives to mis-record crime” and caused police to respond to some offences selectively “to the detriment of other calls”.
It was commissioned by the then home secretary Theresa May, who said at the time: “Targets don’t fight crime, they hinder the fight against crime.”
The proportion of crimes solved has been dropping in recent years, with prosecution rates currently at a record low of just 5.6 per cent of all offences while police-recorded crime is at a record high.
Official reports have warned of a national shortage of detectives, and said Boris Johnson’s push to recruit 20,000 extra constables in three years is “creating an inexperienced workforce”.
The figure may not be hit by the uplift’s end date in March, with the new Metropolitan Police commissioner looking at whether it is “possible or wise” to achieve the force’s individual target.