January 26th, 2010

About turn, again, or is it again & again?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Four years ago the government told police forces they had to investigate the possibility of merging. This cost the country millions of pounds while forces set up special units tasked with investigating the costs & benefits, or otherwise, of merging.  They were full of senior officers who make careers of keeping away from front line policing (if you accept that any senior officer is actually ever involved in front line policing).

All the money & work was wasted when the government decided it didn’t want forces to merge. It was probably something to do with having to spend more cash to bring it off.

Since then, some chief constables have been conspiring with each other to bring about mergers anyway, working away at creating joint units, merging a department at a time.

Now it’s back on the cards as the government find more ways to save cash & avoid the really bad publicity that the inevitable sacking of police officers that comes with the enforced cuts we are now suffering. A committee of MPs is suggesting the exploration of mergers once again, which will probably mean setting up the same boards with the same senior officers as last time & spending the money all over again. This time, the MPs say, the Home Office must fund the mergers properly.

Their figures suggest merging small neighbouring forces such as Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire could cost £20 million, but would result in savings of £15 million per year.

Here we go again…

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6 comments

  1. john says:

    Beds and Herts spend most of their time setting-up joint operations anyway….at any time the CCs’ are expected to marry (another joint operation)

    January 27th, 2010 at 09:13

  2. Tony F says:

    Just a thought, would it be beneficial to merge all the forces? I see one advantage, most of the upper management will become redundant, but I bet they won’t go…

    But realistically, could it work? I don’t mean could it be made to work, but could it actually work?

    January 27th, 2010 at 13:25

  3. Civ_In_The_City says:

    Spare a thought for a force not a million miles from my own. Following the last round of failed mergers the Chief plumped for an innovative shared services arrangement, a joint venture between his force, a couple of nearby councils and IBM as the ‘blue chip enabler’ bringing the ‘expertise’.

    The jury is still out.

    But then along comes the force mergers issue again, all forces feeling the squeeze of government short-changing. With the bolt already shot where is the money going to come from this time.

    That`s one force that has it`s merger options severely hampered, and we all know what sort of results a half-arsed effort gets you.

    Still, work continues, even if nothing can come of it which Chief would be daft enough to look like he`s not trying to please the government of the day.

    Big bonuses depend on toeing the (current) party political line.

    Ring, ring. All change for Conservative Central!!

    January 27th, 2010 at 18:03

  4. john says:

    All change ?
    For another party that’s going to cut public services to the bone, or deeper ?
    We can all-change to the third alternative party….that’s going to cut public services around the throat !

    January 28th, 2010 at 01:02

  5. Blue Eyes says:

    These debates always ignore the most important issue that is local accountability and local priorities.

    January 28th, 2010 at 14:09

  6. Weary says:

    Well, we’re all playing the merger game again. The last time the whole thing fell through for a number of reasons, and it’s hard to see what has changed. Firstly, the Home Office wasn’t actually prepared to actually pay for mergers which, at a local level, no-one was particularly interested in. Secondly, fewer forces means less CC’s, which clearly isn’t very appealing if you’ve planned to be a Chief Constable in the last five or ten years of your career. Thirdly, it was central Government which was suggesting who should merge with whom. It’s rather like the owner of a night-club deciding who should cop off with whom at the end of the night. Some of the respective forces just weren’t very attracted to each other. For example, pity poor Cambridgeshire. They were supposed to join in a menage a trois with Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk quite fancied each other but weren’t hugely interested in taking on Peterborough. Similarly Hertfordshire was supposed to have three in a bed fun with Bedfordshire and Essex. Essex wasn’t very interested because they fancy Kent. Quite why Hertfordshire, one of the best performing forces, is so interested in Bedfordshire, one of the worst, is anyone’s guess. Maybe there’s a knighthood in it for whoever takes Luton home.

    Personally, I think that if anyone is serious about this issue, we might as well bite the bullet and think about a national Police force. It’s a terrible idea in one respect because it will give the Home Office what it has always wanted, namely unquestioned control of the Babylon. But that said, the idea that CC’s and Police Authorities still have any control over their priorities is just laughable. It would have the advantage that we could integrate our intelligence and make economies of scale.

    The notion of local priorities also seems to be a bit suspect. If you drill down to the local meetings which Neighbourhood Officers have to attend (at least round my way), what is it people (albeit not necessarily representative) insist are the priorities. People speeding and bins being left on the pavement several days after collection day. Surveys have also demonstrated that what the man on the Clapham omnibus wants is lots of officers on foot patrol. There is a bizarre inability to accept that an officer walking up and down your road is not in a position to respond to a report of youths snatching an old lady’s hand-bag on the other side of town sufficiently quickly to catch the little turds. Or that a vast amount of crime is committed by a relatively few individuals, who are only caught by officers doing the very opposite of high profile, visible policing. In fact, when it comes to it, I think this whole “local priorities” argument is a bit of a smoke screen. If the question were put honestly, I would imagine that the local priority, whether you live in Hampstead, Govan, Truro or South Shields would be the same. I want to be able to walk around my area at any time of day or night without being afraid. When I go home, I want the things I left there to still be there. The rest is just window dressing.

    January 30th, 2010 at 03:27

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