More #Police Amalgamations Imminent?

The Vauxhall Astra is popular with various Bri...

For some time now there have been numerous debates surrounding police force amalgamation. It’s a subject which has actually been rumbling on for decades now. Previous visitors here will know that I’m broadly in favour of the principle (see here) but what of the recent supportive and not so favourable comments on the issue…

After the creation of Police Scotland on the 1st of April I asked; is this the way forward for the remainder of the UK (see here).  I’m glad to see that finally, we’re now starting to see some chinks in the mostly self-interested parochial armour of the police ‘old boys (and girls) club’ that is the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

A chief constable in Wales has said she supports the idea of merging the four Welsh police forces into one…(

Gwent Police Chief Constable Carmel Napier recently gave her backing to “the idea in principle” of a single police force for Wales (see here). Great for Wales, but having been on the receiving end of some of Ms Napier’s leadership and opinion before, I have to say I’m also a little sceptical of her motives here. Is there any real conviction in what she said or, could it just be simple rhetoric? Another one of those opportunist but cleverly executed pieces of public relations hype, the type of stuff which senior police officers (and politicians) are extremely adept at producing. 

That said and whatever her motive for the public announcement, it doesn’t really matter if there is/isn’t any personal agenda. The support from any ACPO rank for reducing their numbers is a big step for any of them, “turkeys don’t vote for Christmas” after all. So it has to be a step in the right direction for British policing however; there are still many who remain unconvinced about the advantages.

Police and Crime Commissioner and former policing minister says attempts to further unify police forces should be avoided…(

Former MP Alun Michael (now South Wales PCC) maintained that the decision to nationalise policing in Scotland was a “major error of judgement” – as a large force tended to become “a complex beast” to run. Perhaps, but isn’t that due to the politics and micro-management tendencies involved in policing that lead to his conclusion? That and a desire to protect his own self-importance as a PCC? A comment to the original article summed up many opinions about Michael’s views.

When a member of the Home Affairs select committee he was telling forces that they should be working together to make the most of the resources. Now that his job as PCC is threatened it is suddenly better to have a small force. Still can’t be too hard on him, he is a politician try to understand policing and this is too much to ask…(Ridgeback)

I make no bones about it, I’m no real fan of the PCC system in policing however; I also can’t see why a PCC would stick his nose into this issue, other than for personal reasons. Another comment to the article also questions the validity (and honesty) of his opinion.

This is the same Alun Michael who falsely claimed £19,169-56p in expenses and was ordered to pay it all back, hardly a fit person to be a PCC…(Maverick22)

The “complex beast” that Michael refers to is only such because of individuals like him, they creat and fuel the environment in which senior police officers are almost obliged to react to, if only so they can be seen to be doing something, even when actually doing nothing is the realistic requirement.

As Simon Guilfoyle (acclaimed ‘systems’ thinker and Police Inspector) succinctly put it in his recent “Panic” blog; “we see more knee-jerking than a row of Can-Can dancers.”

Until we finally remove the causation factors of knee-jerk reaction, along with the rafts of self-important micro-management in the system, British policing will always be that “complex beast” that Alun Michael refers to. I and many others with numerous years of policing experience know; it really doesn’t have to be that way and the public actually deserve better!

In answer to the original question – more police amalgamations imminent – I would sadly have to say, probably not. There may have been some ‘glacial’ movement in the right direction but it’s still insignificant. We are moving towards something I see as inevitable in the future however; these proposals are unlikely to gain any significant impetus until it becomes ‘flavour of the month’ on the Spin & Hype Menu of PCCS, politicians and ACPO officers.