Labour will seek to cut the number of police forces in England and Wales if it wins the next general election to free up cash to bolster neighbourhood policing.
Addressing the ACPO conference in Harrogate, Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey told delegates that there would be less than 43 forces by the end of the party’s five-year term.
He also hinted Labour could abolish police and crime commissioners and introduce a new form of governance – although he stopped short of committing to the proposal.
Mr Dromey said: “It is a nonsense to continue with 43 separate forces in England and Wales – it has been said to me time and time again that it is the enemy of operational effectiveness. It is certainly the enemy of efficiency.
“At the end of the first term of a Labour government there would not be 43 forces.”
Mr Dromey said that Labour’s plans to raise funds to bolster neighbourhood policing are currently being put together. He added that the neighbourhood policing policy – introduced by a previous Labour administration – had been successful but had been placed under threat by the cuts of the Coalition Government.
During his speech to the conference, Mr Dromey said there were a number of convincing proposals put forward in the Lord Stevens independent commission into the future of policing.
The party commissioned the former Met commissioner to carry out a comprehensive investigation in 2012, which had involved the consultation of several international law enforcement professionals.
In outlining the party's policy ahead of the general election in 2015, he said there were compelling arguments in Lord Stevens' recommendations to reduce the numbers of forces as well as abolishing the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and creating a new body.
He suggested that the IPCC did not have the confidence of either the police or the public – adding that the government was wrong to enhance funding of the body.
Mr Dromey believed that more could be achieved by bringing together the IPCC and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – as suggested by Lord Stevens.
During his speech he emphasised that Police Service leaders would not always like what any future Labour government would have to say. But he stressed that the party would “stand up for the best of British policing”.
The senior MP also asserted that there needed to be sound and thorough investigations into past incidences, such as the Hillsborough and the Stephen Lawrence murder probe.
Article courtesy of Cliff Caswell. www.policeoracle.com