Police officers have ditched lengthy stop and account forms in a bid to cut back on the amount of time they are tied up with red tape.

In the past year police in Oxfordshire have filled out 10,299 of the foot-long forms – the equivalent of spending 72,000 minutes, or 150 full police shifts.

The forms were introduced to keep a record of any member of the public spoken to by an officer.

They differ from those used for stopping and searching suspects – though they have also been shortened.

Race relation chiefs in the county said they were keen to make sure police were still accountable.

But by axing the forms, police hope officers can spend more time tackling crime and less on bureaucracy.

The pilot scheme, which started on Monday, sees officers now recording stop and account incidents with a brief radio call.

Insp Vince Gilio, who is overseeing the scheme, said: “Times have moved on. Members of the public do not need to be unduly inconvenienced having to wait around while a form is filled out when a short conversation is all you need.

“It means officers can go out and do the important job of policing, and it cuts down on bureaucracy.

“The vast majority of stop and accounts are for people who have a legitimate reason to be in a location. Instead of making officers fill out forms on every occasion, it gives officers back their discretion.”

The forms, which took between seven and 13 minutes to complete, were criticised by MPs, senior officers and the Police Federation.

Now when someone is stopped, only their ethnicity is taken down and sent via a code by radio.

If an officer has further suspicions they can write details in a pocket notebook.

The forms were brought in to ensure police were accountable for stop checks and to ensure ethnic minorities were not singled out.

Patrick Tolani, director of Oxfordshire Racial Equality Council, said: “Fundamental human rights of everyone, whether white or black, minority or majority, should be upheld. What they are doing is trying to save time. There must be accountability.”

Andy Viney, secretary of the Thames Valley Police Federation, said: “Any reduction in the amount of paperwork officers must carry and fill in would be a bonus.”