The Chief Inspector of Constabulary this morning has published a report detailing what everyone else has been thinking these past weeks. The fact of the matter is that anything over a 12% cut in police funding cannot be achieved without re-engineering the way in which UK police is organised and functions. The reality is that over the last 10 years we have created a police service which has been dogged by bureaucracy, red tape and, at times, a risk averse approach. All of this, as in any organisation that suffers the same level of hand tying, results in increased costs and increased inefficiency.
Sir Dennis O’Connor is therefore right that we should now look at the whole picture in terms of UK policing structure and service and go back to basics in terms of delivering core services. One solution to the problem may well be an acceleration of merging territorial based policing within regions and moving more specialised services to the centre. Do I dare to say a return of the Regional Crime Squad in disguise..? At least under this model, the public get their territorial and local based service whilst major crime investigation and other specialised services are concentrated where it counts. The biggest hurdle to cross now is that of investment. The merger process and setting up of central service incurs significant investment against long term savings. The question is will there be political commitment to spend now and save later? The plot thickens and it may well not come to any conclusion until after the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October where the real devastation by cuts may eventually be revealed.