Last time we looked at how the police are already asking civilians to investigate crimes that they have been the victim of. This week it’s been reported across the media that the powers that be want to reduce the number of serving Chief police officers.
Are the Police Cutting Back? The BBC interviewed Irene Curtis who is the president of the Superintendents Association and she believes that the number of actual police forces – 43 in total, all acting as separate organisations, with their own management teams are expensive to run and outdated. There have not been any major reforms for 30 years since the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 (PACE), though this was more to do with the powers of the police than police force boundaries. It was as far back as 1964 that 49 forces were created by the Police Act 1964, although there has since been a slight change because these days there are only 43 forces. This of course means that there are 43 Police Chief Constables and their management teams in PACE. Hugh Orde from the Association of Chief Police Officers agrees with Irene that there needs to be change, as he argues that criminals are not restricted by the police force boundaries and, even if their is collaboration between forces, if they are not joined together seamlessly then it can lead to inconsistency and inefficiency.
It is the local policing and their investigations that may suffer as there is a continued drive to cut costs. Steve White, the Chairman of the Police Federation argues that front line police officers are doing their best with the resources that are available, yet he believes they are stretched to breaking point already, but mergers would mean shared resources and would enable them to achieve even better results.
Irene recommends that we follow in the footsteps of the Scottish force that have become one national Police Force instead of the 8 it was previously. In England Police forces already work across boundaries in joint operations, so Irene says that in many cases there are examples where forces for all intents and purposes appear to have merged, but the government is still paying for two sets of upper management. In Scotland the merger of forces is reported to have saved £1.1 billion.
Opponents to the proposal such as Alan Hardwick argue that the restructure could cost more than it would save. After all it is a big difference, reducing from 43 as oppose to reducing from 8. He also suggests that one big super force may lose sight of what matters in the nitty gritty of small tight knit communities.
As the police force shrinks, with police cutting back and as the front line starts to crack under it’s enormous responsibility, how long will it be before private investigators are called upon to help the police in their investigations?