Tories propose mobile jail units

Police could be back on the streets more quickly if they did not return to stations to process arrests, according to a policy paper from the Tories.

The policy paper, for England and Wales, also proposes scrapping some forms which officers have to fill in.

"We need to take the handcuffs off the police and put them on the criminals," said Tory spokesman David Ruffley.

Mr Ruffley, shadow minister for police reform, said: "The public want the police back on the beat and that is where the police also want to be."

The specially-designed "mobile urban gaols" - or "MUGs" - would be deployed in areas afflicted by knife crime and anti-social behaviour.

Suspects could be fingerprinted, swabbed for DNA and even charged, with the authorisation of a police sergeant via video-link.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw commented: "The key policing debate is no longer about how many police officers are needed but finding ways to get them to spend longer on front-line duties."

The units would provide "a more visible police presence for the public", says the policy paper, entitled "Back on the Beat".

They would be deployed also at sporting events and shopping centres with high levels of shoplifting.

The Tories also propose scrapping forms that must be filled in for some "straightforward police operations".

"Twelve years of Labour red tape and bureaucracy have wasted police time, keeping them away from front-line crime-fighting," said Mr Ruffley.