When Robert Peel established the Metropolitan Police in 1829 he defined nine principles of operation, of which the most important was “the police are the public and the public are the police”.
The police have not always lived up to this precept. Only 3 per cent of crimes now end in a conviction. We spend more on the police in this country than any developed nation and yet detection rates are not improving. The chances of being a victim of crime are at the lowest level for two decades but three quarters of the British public believe that crime is going up. The police force is the only service in which public confidence declines on contact with serving officers, from 57 to 41 per cent. Something is amiss in policing.
Hugh Orde's presciption, featured elsewhere in the same edition, is for fewer and larger forces under central command and control, a new 'general staff' replacing the unaccountable and shadowy ACPO.
It takes some chutzpah for one of the men responsible for creating a police force remote from the people it serves and which has lost their confidence to recommend more of the same as the solution. And it's risible nonsense in every way.
Yes to a Royal Commission - but Orde will find the way forward is smaller forces under local control carrying out 90% of policing, with specialist squads at national or regional level, reporting to the Home Secretary or London Mayor, leading on terrorism and organised crime. The needs of these niche law and order challenges cannot drive the organisation of the vast bulk of day to day policing - which must be local. The police are the public, and the public are the police.