First, in the NHS, we were told Government targets distort patients' overall treatment. Going further back, you may also remember the issue of not being able to make an appointment at your local surgery thanks to the Government's 48 hours target.
Next, in education, targets were identified as distorting the enforcement of school behaviour policies and, just a fortnight ago, headteachers complained that excessive testing and targets had led to an exodus of young people from school, producing an "army of the unemployable."
Then, a couple of months ago, a Sussex detective resigned to expose how Home Office targets place police under pressure to massage their crime detection figures.
Now, in the latest targets fiasco, we learn that police officers are forced to make arrests for petty offences in order to satisfy Home Office targets. The BBC has the following list of examples from the Police Federation's dossier:
- A man from Cheshire who was cautioned for being "found in possession of an egg with intent to throw"
- A child in Kent who was arrested after removing a slice of cucumber from a sandwich and throwing it at another youngster
- A West Midlands woman arrested on her wedding day for criminal damage after her foot slipped on her accelerator pedal and her vehicle damaged a car park barrier
- A child from Kent who was arrested for throwing cream buns at a bus
- A 70-year-old Cheshire pensioner who was arrested for criminal damage after cutting back a neighbour's conifer trees
- An officer in the West Midlands who was told to caution a man for throwing a glass of water over his girlfriend
- Two children from Manchester who were arrested for being in possession of a plastic toy pistol