Chief constable calls for a 'national police force'
CHIEF Constable Colin Port "passionately" believes a national police force could be the best way forward for the UK.
The head of Avon and Somerset constabulary expressed the radical view during a webchat on the police website.
Fielding questions from members of the public, Mr Port's ears pricked up at one question in particular.
A woman called Jess asked: "Are there any plans to make one regional police force or even one national one?"
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Mr Port, pictured, answered: "Oh dear Jess you've struck on a subject close to my heart. I believe passionately in a national police service which would be delivered locally without the need for 43 chief constables, at least 43 different IT systems. Scotland is leading the way in relation to this. I do hope we follow."
In Scotland, from next April, eight regional forces are being merged into one, under a government drive to save cash without hitting front-line operations. The new chief constable will take charge of what will be the second largest force in the UK, with more than 17,000 officers.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said there would be no compulsory redundancies, but trade unions believe 3,000 posts could go.
And Mr Port said a similar model in England would still allow for effective policing at grass-roots level.
"There's no reason why this would affect in a negative aspect local policing," he said. "In fact I think it would enhance it."
During the discussion Mr Port was asked about the personal safety of his officers, the appointment in November of a policing and crime commissioner to replace the police authority, and some light-hearted topics.
On whether police officers should be armed, Mr Port said: "I don't want to see all police officers in the UK armed. I'm terrifically proud of what the British police service does in an unarmed context but we just have to look at the dreadful events that took place in Greater Manchester recently to realise the dangers which confront people in uniform."
On the new commissioner system, he said: "You'll appreciate that I'm not a politician and that we do live in a democracy and the introduction of commissioners is a decision of the democratically elected government. If there is a personality clash then the commissioner has the power to hire and fire the chief constable. Upon the force I hope the commissioner will do the job the police authority has done in working with the constabulary to set the strategic priorities, having listened to the public."
On a more light-hearted note, Mr Port revealed his Saturday night TV tastes. When asked whether he preferred Strictly Come Dancing or X Factor, he admitted: "I have in the past been an X Factor fan however I have to say I've gone off it. I skip Strictly and go straight to Dr Who."