Scrap the police and have one national force, says chief constable

October 3, 2012 | by | 0 Comments
Avon and Somerset Chief constable Colin Port

Avon and Somerset Chief constable Colin Port

A chief constable has called for England’s 43 police forces to be scrapped and replaced with a single national service.

Colin Port, head of Avon and Somerset Police, believes a single coherent force would save money by eliminating duplication of services and senior staff.

He has called for England to follow the lead of Scotland, which is merging its eight regional forces into one next April.

Mr Port made his suggestion during a webchat with the public on his force’s website.

When asked by a woman called Jess if there were any plans for a regional or national force, he replied: “Oh dear Jess you’ve struck on a subject close to my heart.

“I believe passionately in a national police service which would be delivered locally without the need for 43 chief constables, at least 43 different IT systems.

“Scotland is leading the way in relation to this. I do hope we follow.”

Next April, under a government drive to save cash without hitting front-line operations, eight regional forces in Scotland are being merged into one.

The new chief constable will take charge of what will become the second largest force in the UK, with more than 17,000 officers.

Kenny MacAskill, Justice Secretary, said there would be no compulsory redundancies, but trade unions believe 3,000 posts could go.

Mr Port added that a similar model in England would still allow for effective policing at grass-roots level.

He said: “There’s no reason why this would affect in a negative aspect local policing.

“In fact I think it would enhance it.”

Mr Port was also asked about the personal safety of his officers, the appointment of a policing and crime commissioner to replace the police authority in November, as well as some light-hearted topics.

When asked whether police officers should be armed the chief constable of seven years said: “I don’t want to see all police officers in the UK armed.

“I’m terrifically proud of what the British police service does in an unarmed context but we just have to look at the dreadful events that took place in Greater Manchester recently to realise the dangers which confront people in uniform.”

And on the new commissioner system he added: “You’ll appreciate that I’m not a politician and that we do live in a democracy and the introduction of commissioners is a decision of the democratically elected government.

“If there is a personality clash then the commissioner has the power to hire and fire the chief constable.

“Upon the force I hope the commissioner will do the job the police authority has done in working with the constabulary to set the strategic priorities, having listened to the public.”

The Association of Chief Police Officers  backed Colin Port’s call for force mergers but said there was “no political will” to change the current model.

A spokesman said: “Savings that need to be made in the police service equate to about 20 per cent of the entire police service budget for the period.

“While ACPO continues to believe that force mergers could be done with local policing protected and create opportunities for significant cost savings, there is no political will from any side to change the 44 force model.

“However, chief officers are doing what they can to collaborate with each other and the private sector to create as many opportunities for cost savings as possible.

“Forces plan to make #169m of savings from collaboration over the spending review period, which equates to 11 per cent of the savings requirement and by 2014/15 around a sixth of policing will be delivered through collaboration.”

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