Just in time for the Easter break has come yet another “report” from the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), this time picking over the cost incurred by police forces around England and Wales in meeting their statutory duty to produce a Local Policing Summary (LPS) every year. The amount over which the TPA is haggling is around a million quid in total.
As usual, there is a list demonstrating that the TPA has made lots of Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, and there is a misleading conclusion: that if all the police forces concerned put their LPS online, the million notes would be instantly saved and could therefore be ploughed into an increased number of officers on the streets.
What is not explained is whether this solution would satisfy the statutory requirement placed upon the forces. Moreover, the authority held up as an example by the TPA – Devon and Cornwall – incurred other printing costs, despite having its LPS available online.
Also, when the TPA’s head non-job holder Matthew Sinclair tells that putting the LPS online costs “next to nothing”, there is, not surprisingly, no example given of what costs may be incurred in doing this. No explanation is given of how the information could be disseminated when those requiring it do not have access to the Internet.
It is, therefore, typical TPA “research”: a number of FoI requests are made, wasting substantial sums of taxpayers’ money, an alternative is put forward without any costing (other than to assert that it can be done “for free”), and along the way the odd casual smear is dispensed (printed information is called “glossy leaflets” to make it sound bad).And, as with all the other TPA “reports”, it’s not good enough. Good to see that the Association of Police Authorities (APA) is not concerning itself with a response – it’s not worth it.