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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources


The police service is not a private or public limited company and there are dangers in drawing too many comparisons. However, when fiscal restraint and control is essential for a private sector business to survive difficult economic conditions, the same principle must be seen to apply to the public sector. Responsibility can no longer be overlooked on the basis that the public purse will always be full. The economic situation the country has found itself in has been worsened by public sector profligacy and waste. The new Government is facing the challenge head on, taking difficult decisions that will undoubtedly make them unpopular in some quarters. These decisions are critical to the economic revival of the country and each public sector body must shoulder its share of the burden.


The police service can deliver its obligations without compromising front line resources. As this report will show, by reference to recent well published research, the police force is overweight and must now be placed on a ‘diet’ to restore its former health.


• The structure of the police must enable them to fight serious crime while enhancing and sustaining community policing. This means either the existing 43 forces co-operating much more effectively, or a new national force taking responsibility for serious crime while much more localised forces focus on volume crime in their areas.


• The complexity and demands of modern policing mean that the workforce must be reformed to ensure that it is flexible, well trained and highly motivated, with a diverse range of skills and expertise. A key goal should be to enhance the ability of police chiefs to manage their workforces better.


• The police’s hands must be untied to give them the discretion they need and to release officers for front-line duties. Forms, processes and barmy projects which do not help the police to deliver a better service to the public must be eliminated. Central direction and targets must be replaced by locally accountable leadership and priority setting. Civilian staff or the private sector should be employed to do jobs which sworn officers do not need to do, and the police ‘family’ should be extended.


• The police must be made properly accountable for their performance as well as their conduct, and their performance management framework must only reward activity that delivers a better service, not activity which keeps officers busy and ticks boxes. The quid pro quo for reducing central intervention is strongly enhanced local accountability, with a new emphasis on more effective partnerships and the empowerment of communities to ensure their own safety. Many of the proposals are challenging, but they offer a better future for both police officers and the public:


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