County debates national police force
A RADICAL idea to revolutionise the police force in England and Wales, is today under urgent debate in Suffolk.The idea to create one national force from 43 dotted across the country, was voiced by Home Secretary David Blunkett in his National Policing Plan which is currently being debated.
A RADICAL idea to revolutionise the police force in England and Wales, is today under urgent debate in Suffolk.
The idea to create one national force from 43 dotted across the country, was voiced by Home Secretary David Blunkett in his National Policing Plan which is currently being debated.
Members of Suffolk Police Authority last week heard that the plan raises several issues to impact on Suffolk – including the idea of people calling a 666 number to report non-urgent incidents instead of 999, better community engagement, and the fact that most people have heard of police authorities.
The idea to restructure services into one national force with specialist departments, is its early stages, but has already prompted fears that the public could suffer.
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At Suffolk Police Authority's meeting at Martlesham on Friday, chairman Christine Laverock said the idea needed fuller consultation, but said a meeting had to take place fast, to meet the Home Office's January deadline for a response.
She said: "What we do know in terms of smaller forces, is that performance and satisfaction levels are very high. We are working hard locally, and do collaborate with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. I wouldn't support any radical change if it jeopardises the service we give to the people of Suffolk.
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"This is a very sensitive issue and it is beginning to create uncertainty. The home secretary was saying there is no blueprint out there – he said 'I have not already written this,' so it is very much open for debate. It is not all government-driven, as a lot of the proposals are coming from the Association of Chief Police Officers."
Authority member David Lewis said people should not jump to the conclusion that nationalising the police force would bring problems.
He said: "I think that at the end of the day, service depends on what arrangements are in place locally - the people on the ground provide the local focus.
"The probation service used to be run by local boards in each area, but standards have increased dramatically and the performance criteria has now improved since it became national."
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