Chief backs call to merge po­lice forces

CUR­RENT SYS­TEM ‘OUT­DATED’ SAY EX­PERTS

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By NEAL KEEL­ING neal.keel­[email protected] @Neal­keel­ingMEN

THE chief con­sta­ble of Greater Manch­ester has backed calls for merg­ing po­lice forces in Eng­land and Wales.

Ian Hop­kins spoke af­ter Martin He­witt, the head of the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil and Lord Blair, for­mer Com­mis­sioner of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice, both said the gov­ern­ment should over­haul an out­dated sys­tem of 43 sep­a­rate po­lice forces.

The move to re­duce the num­ber of forces comes as crime in­creas­ingly be­comes bor­der­less as po­lice tackle or­gan­ised crime gangs, county lines drugs op­er­a­tions, mod­ern slav­ery and hu­man traf­fick­ing, cy­ber­crime and ter­ror­ism.

A re­view into or­gan­ised crime last year spot­lighted the dif­fi­cul­ties caused by hav­ing so many chief con­sta­bles, re­gional or­gan­ised crime units, and the Na­tional Crime Agency when pre­par­ing a na­tional re­sponse.

Some forces are too small to deal with ma­jor in­ci­dents and are de­pen­dent on of­fi­cers from other forces pro­vid­ing back-up to in­ci­dents like ter­ror­ist at­tacks and protests.

GMP is the third-largest English force and serves 2.7m peo­ple. It has just over 6,000 of­fi­cers. But War­wick­shire County Po­lice Force, the small­est in the coun­try, has just over 1,000. Now more than a decade af­ter they were first touted, calls are grow­ing for ‘su­per­forces’ to be cre­ated.

Mr Hop­kins told the M.E.N.: “I agree. Polic­ing in the 21st cen­tury is very dif­fer­ent and re­quires in­vest­ment in new ca­pa­bil­i­ties that you can’t af­ford to de­liver 43 times. For me it all starts at a lo­cal level and then what you need at a re­gional level and na­tional level. “We cur­rently have some forces with the same num­ber of of­fi­cers as the City of Manch­ester (divi­sion), but have a chief and po­lice and crime com­mis­sioner and all of the back of­fice sup­port that comes with run­ning an or­gan­i­sa­tion. This can’t be value for money or ef­fec­tive.

“How­ever, I have to be re­ally clear, lo­cal polic­ing is the bedrock and very im­por­tant to our le­git­i­macy with the pub­lic we serve.” In a let­ter to The Times, Lord Blair said the struc­ture of po­lice forces, a con­se­quence of the 1962 royal com­mis­sion ‘is grossly in­ef­fi­cient and with­out strate­gic de­sign.’ He said this was recog­nised by HM In­spec­torate of Con­stab­u­lar­ies in the 1990s. He added that the changes in crime since then means the sit­u­a­tion now ‘cries out for fewer, larger forces.’ HMIC warned 14 years ago that polic­ing was un­fit for the 21st cen­tury. A re­port said that those with more than 4,000 of­fi­cers tended to per­form more ef­fi­ciently.

Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins

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