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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Obstructing the boys in blue

The Policy Exchange, a right-of-centre think tank, have said that the move to create one police force for Wales is based on misguided and misleading analysis.

The report, 'Size Isn't Everything: Restructuring Policing in England and Wales', says big forces are no more efficient than small ones - even on serious cross-border crime. It recommends that instead the Government should allow forces voluntarily to federate where necessary, extend the remit of national policing agencies, give more power and responsibility to Basic Command Units, and modernise policing practices and working structures.

"By forcing through traumatic and counter-productive mergers in the teeth of public and much professional opinion, the Government is wasting political capital and hindering the fight against crime," said Anna Reid, who edited the report.

"Amalgamation would destroy hard-won co-terminosity with the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts and probation services, making it hard for them to cooperate with the police."

Most policing is managed through BCUs. Each unit typically consists of several hundred officers headed by a superintendent or chief superintendent. But the report warns that those units may not preserve the local democratic accountability of the current forces.

It says senior police officers are reluctant to give BCUs powers over their own management and finance, leaving them with full control only of spending on overtime and office equipment.

When combined with the cost of merger, which most people expect to fall on hard-pressed Council Tax payers, this is a pretty damning verdict on an ill-advised Labour Government initiative.
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