A CRIME plan setting out a police force’s priorities for the next four years has been nominated for an award – for gobbledygook.
Humberside Police Commissioner Matthew Grove is consulting over his draft police and crime plan, which will guide the force throughout his term in office.
But although one of the Government’s main aims for introducing commissioners was to increase public engagement with policing, Mr Grove’s plan has been criticised for its “difficult” language, and has being nominated for a Golden Bull award by the Plain English Campaign.
Mr Grove’s four key messages include “getting upstream of the crime problem” and “getting a buy-in from partner agencies”, while other sections of the plan have left readers scratching their heads.
Under the heading “Objectives” at section 5.2, Mr Grove writes: “Each of the above outcomes is underpinned by more specific objectives which have been developed in conjunction with the public and partner organisations. They address the critical issues and are effectively the means to achieving the end results. These objectives are the ‘road map’ that defines the approach for how the outcomes or ‘destination’ will be achieved and are the crux of the Police and Crime Plan. These objectives provide the focus, as well as the constraints, for the Chief Constable, partners and I, which in turn will drive the activities and behaviours that will deliver the above outcomes.”
Chrissie Maher, founder-director of the Plain English Campaign, said in response: “I am nominating this for a Golden Bull award. They should be ashamed of writing such jargon in this day and age.
“We are meant to be able to read and understand this, which most people clearly won’t be able to do. This is definitely an example of how not to communicate clearly.”
The passage at section 5.2 has been tested against a number of readability indicators – which suggest a reader would have to be educated to degree level to understand it.
The Flesch-Kincaid readability index rates texts according to difficulty, with low numbers signifying harder-to-read pieces, and high numbers suggesting easier reading, such as 90 for a comic. This system gives the passage a score of 21.
The Gunning Fog index shows a reader would have spend more than 15 years in formal education to understand it.
Andrew Allison, the Hull-based national grassroots co-ordinator for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “If the commissioner wants the public to engage with him he should publish a document that’s written in plain English, unlike this document, which is full of public sector buzz-words and jargon.
“The majority of members of the public when reading some of this will just give up - they won’t get past the first page.”
The commissioner’s office declined to comment on the readability of the plan but said a “concise” version would be published online tomorrow.
His office said in a statement: “The first draft of Matthew Grove’s Police and Crime plan was published on January 14.
“To begin the consultation process, meetings have being held with strategic partners in local authorities and community safety across the Humber region to get their input and feedback.
“Four commissioner’s local panel meetings (one in each local authority area) are also being held. Members have been selected from the former Police Authority Citizens Panel.
“This week Matthew will publish a concise version of the plan on his website and will shortly be publishing dates of four public meetings (one in each local authority area) where members of the public will be able to hear a presentation from Matthew on the plan, ask questions and give feedback.”
The consultation runs until February 28 and the final plan will be published at the end of March.
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