Friday, December 16, 2005

Police amalgamation blues

On the 13th of September a report landed on the Home Secretary’s desk entitled Closing The Gap - A Review Of The ‘Fitness For Purpose’ Of The Current Structure Of Policing in England & Wales. One of its key findings was that smaller Police Forces had difficulty with certain categories of major incidents and crime. The government fell on this like starving hyenas onto a fallen wildebeest. Plans for radical amalgamations, maybe 12 Police Forces instead of 43 and huge geographical areas covered by a single force followed. It’s all happening at breakneck speed too; final proposals from Police authorities have to be in by the 23rd of December. Public consultation finished on the 2nd of December.

From early next year the Serious and Organised Crime Agency comes into being, a force that will provide national resources to tackle many of the types of crime highlighted in the report. The government could wait to see how that affects policing in the UK, but they aren't.

This has been described by one Chief Constable as the most radical change in policing since 1836. The Association of Chief Police Officers wants to know how the restructuring is to be funded. Members of Parliament have barely been allowed to talk about this and yet the government presses on. In Essex a large, efficient Police Force faces the prospect of merger into an Eastern Region force or some combination with two other counties. Almost no one is happy with that.

If you were to pick one problem with modern policing in Britain it would probably be the disconnect that many people feel from the police, which often stems from a seeming lack of local accountability. This will not help at all. In fact it will likely make things worse.

Police shake-up is 'too quick and with no debate'

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