In the 21st century police, the best way to deal with having too much management claptrap is to boldly sweep it away and replace it with even more management claptrap, dressed up as accountability.
Roger Baker, the Chief Constable of Essex Police, this week won plaudits from some quarters for his straight talking. He said that the police had lost their focus on the citizen and
"In some areas...we have probably introduced too much management claptrap."
He's right, of course - the police have become totally swamped in directives, Whitehall initiatives, paperwork, PC policing and hoops through which to jump - but unfortunately he made these comments at a press conference convened to launch the very latest form of police management claptrap, the 'Police Pledge'.
What can be more claptrappish than a document in which the police recite "pledges" about response times and behaviour which all seem remarkably obvious (see here for a Home Office sample), rather than going out and doing the job? As we said at the time, people don't want the police occupied in press conferences and pledge drafting meetings, they want them out and about catching criminals, investigating crimes and protecting the public.
Unfortunately, because the police aren't very accountable to the public - even the police authorities who oversee them are arms length from the people - we are left with charade accountability like this pledge. I don't blame the police themselves, because they are under orders direct from the Home Office. The frustrations this brings about for ordinary officers are evident in the record numbers of early retirements among the police.
It's long overdue to set the police, and the public, free from the meddling and mismanagement of the Home Office, cut out the middle man and get some genuine democratic accountability going. Then we'd see the end of claptrap.