Chief backs call to merge police forces
CURRENT SYSTEM ‘OUTDATED’ SAY EXPERTS
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Council and Lord Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, both said the government should overhaul an outdated system of 43 separate police forces.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