Thursday, 5 February 2009

Home Office tries again to create a national police force

For about a century the Home Office has been determined to create a national police force under the direction and control of the executive; these efforts pre-date the rise of central Statism from the late 1970s, and have so far been strongly resisted by both citizens and the police, but today they are getting closer than ever to their goal.

Just as a strong groundswell of public opinion is forming, and being recognised by opposition politicians, for a return to greater local democratic control of the police, the Home Office is seeking to manipulate force mergers and a national command structure using the NPIA and ACPO.

I don't have time this morning to do full justice to this, but this succinct summary gives a good background to the issues.

The latest 'review' from HMIC, available HERE, follows a familiar pattern. The Inspector sets up a range of national strategic responses, and then evaluates how well local forces have planned for them. It's a self-fulfilling conclusion that they're not doing as well as they could do under the central command structure of ACPO / NPIA.

What the Inspector chooses to ignore is how well forces meet local priorities and needs.

Perhaps we need two police forces - one a local organisation under local democratic control, and another a national force dealing with major terrorist risks, serious and organised crime and the like, in the manner of the FBI. I don't know.

What I'm certain of is that we need now more than ever an independent Royal Commission on policing to explore all of these issues, and until we get it the Home Office should cease it's creeping manipulation and implementation of a national force by default. And ACPO and the NPIA are deeply undemocratic institutions whose shadowy power and influence needs urgently to be brought into the cold light of day and under democratic scrutiny and control.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The use of ACPO is in many ways quite sinister. ACPO is a limited company and appears to have gained the agreement of the Information Commissioner that it is exempt from FOI disclosures. It appears to be largely funded by subscriptions paid by senior police officers/police authorities (presumably public money is involved here) and from grants from Government for policy delelopment. ACPO develops guidelines on policing and policing policy and as such is very much fulfilling a Home Office role but concealed from public gaze or enquiry. There is a very significant democratic deficit in this area!