Reshaping the police service is a necessity

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Lancashire’s chief constable Steve Finnigan has played a key role in the production of a document called Reshaping policing for the public.

For anybody wanting to learn more about the challenges that the police service faces in the coming years, I would recommend this discussion paper as worthwhile reading.

It reiterates the point that the government hasn’t got a clue about what the police service actually does and in fairness also points out that most forces don’t completely understand the demands being placed on their own officers. There is no current master plan for the future of policing, simply a requirement for the police do more with less money and resources. This is leading to a steady erosion of local policing and a decline in the standard of service being provided to the public.

What I like about this document, is that the suggested new ‘framework’ for policing moves away from arguments about the requirement for a national force, regional forces or local forces. It accepts that all three are needed; local policing to deliver what the public would generally regard as a policing service.

Cross force policing to deal with major crime, counter terrorism, roads policing and firearms. These services could then be supported by cross force operational support for intelligence, criminal justice, forensics and some other business services. At a national level there would be a crime agency, air service, counter terrorism command etc.

The report also identifies the need to move to common IT solutions, discusses potential funding issues where a lead force provides specialist services to smaller forces and, perhaps most importantly, suggests that accountability remains with local police leaders and police and crime commissioners. The effective integration of public services and partnership working is also a central consideration.

It is the best blueprint for policing that I have seen in many a year and has the potential to effectively deal with the modern day challenges of cyber crime, child abuse and terrorism. All the authors of the report are highly respected professionals and I hope that the Home Office has the foresight to move this suggested approach forward. Either that or come up with an alternative plan.

Unfortunately, experience tells me this paper may result in meetings and end up on a shelf gathering dust. I hope that doesn’t happen, as a reshaping of the police service has become an operational necessity.