DIY policing: Cameron’s answer to cost cutting?

Is DIY policing a way forward for the force, or is it simply the Tories' answer to policing on the cheap?

The government’s answer to the police budget cuts emerged yesterday, as home secretary Theresa May announced plans for a voluntary police force.

The radical shake-up, which will include a drive towards more people taking part in DIY policing, was revealed as May said she wants to explore new ideas.

The government report states: ‘We want more active citizens taking part in joint patrols with the police, looking out for their neighbours and passing on safety tips as part of neighbourhood watch groups or as community crime fighters.’

May actively supports the new proposals. ‘For too long, the police have become disconnected from the communities they serve, they have been bogged down by bureaucracy, and they have answered to distant politicians instead of the people,’ she said.

But, shadow home secretary Alan Johnson strongly disagrees. ‘People volunteer to run the Scouts, not catch criminals,’ he argued. ‘This is policing on the cheap.’

The shadow cabinet will have more to contend with as the paper reveals that the government wants to explore further ideas.

The reform, which is the most radical in 50 years, also includes ideas for directly-elected police commissioners.

These new commissioners, who will eventually be elected by residents in England and Wales, will be powerful new figures.

They will not only have the authority to sack chief constables, but they will also have control over budgets and force priorities.

Even though the Home Office report assures that a new police and crime panel will monitor the commissioner in each force, there is concern that this could cause the emergence of Judge Dredd characters.

‘These proposals should not be seen as a green light for the election of Judge Dredd characters more interested in populism than effective cooperative policing,’ warned Libe Dem home affairs spokesman, Tom Brake.

President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, agreed. Although Orde thinks the force is ready for change, he believes the reform ‘must add value to the critical service we deliver which keeps our communities safe.’

Do you think this is a positive shake up for the force? Or is it cimply Cameron’s answer to police budget cuts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

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