Q&A: BTP Policing Plan Targets

On 20 May 2015, the Home Secretary announced a review of the use of crime and performance targets in police forces in England and Wales. Does this mean the BTPA will re-think targets?

We will follow the progress of that review and consider any recommendations. We do, however, continue to stress that the BTP works in a unique commercial environment and is funded by the rail industry from passenger and freight revenue. The targets contained in the National and Local Policing Plans support our strategic priorities and seek to reduce crime and disruption and increase confidence for railway users and support the goals of the rail industry.

Some say that setting this or that numerical target is just a random exercise.

Targets are not just arbitrary numbers. They are based on measures which are meaningful for the operational and commercial model underpinning the rail franchising system. Also, importantly, they are intended to drive visible annual progress towards our strategic aims to reduce crime and disruption by 20%, and increase passenger and rail staff confidence by 10% between 2013-2019. As we set out in our Strategy, these longer term priorities are intended to fundamentally change how BTP does business, through changing its structure, its culture and its behaviour.

Who checks that targets are met, and what happens if they are not met? Does that mean the police are failing to do their job?

Progress against targets is regularly and systematically reported through the BTP to the Authority, and closely followed by rail industry. Members of the Authority are drawn from a range of backgrounds and they come with knowledge and experience from a number of different perspectives including those of the railway industry, passengers and rail staff. The BTPA takes a pragmatic approach to monitoring progress of its Policing Plans, and puts it in context of operational policing matters. Performance against the targets is not considered a success or failure solely on the basis of whether or not a target is met; rather we believe it is a considered view of progress taken in view of overall policing service delivery and the wider context of the railway environment. The record of the Authority’s Performance Review meetings can be reviewed here.

What do BTP Stakeholders say about targets?

Our funders and service users are supportive of our approach. The BTP Policing Plan was developed in consultation with the people who use and run the rail network, including representatives from the train and freight operating companies, Network Rail and passenger groups like Transport Focus. It also took into account the findings of a several large-scale surveys with passengers and staff to find out what matters most to those using and working on the railway and London Underground network. A record of how we went about setting targets for 2015-16 is available here.

So, do targets work?

The achievements of BTP in reducing crime and increasing in passenger confidence over the last decade, demonstrate that targets do indeed work in a rail environment.