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Byline: JAMES HARDY, Political Editor

A RECORD number of civilians could be drafted into police stations to free up bobbies so they can go on the beat.

Police chiefs have warned ministers that officers are wasting hours on paperwork and administration.

Now Home Secretary David Blunkett wants to shift some station-based work to trained civilians.

A senior Whitehall source said: "Too many coppers are being bogged down with work other people could do just as well - or even better."

Rank and file officers will be consulted and the new measures officially unveiled in the New Year.

The source said: "There will always be a role for custody sergeants and skilled officers but we believe a large number of tasks could be carried out by civilian staff."

The Government pledged during the election campaign to recruit an extra 6,000 officers.

But Mr Blunkett is also determined to make sure more police are seen patrolling the streets.

At the moment police are tied up with booking in suspects, finding their parents, if they are under age, and waiting for them to turn up.

Many have to book time in interview rooms and hang around until they are free before they can question suspects.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 3, 2001
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