Letter to the Editor

The Times July 12, 2003

Sir, The Home Secretary is considering a report which proposes major
change to police leadership (details, June 7) and strikes at the heart
of locally delivered, locally accountable, community-based policing.
Many recommendations aimed at improving the number and quality of
leaders are welcome, but some are illconceived and threaten the core of
British policing.

The theme of the report is centralisation of control of police
leadership. It is proposed that local lists of candidates for chief
officer posts should be determined by the Home Office and that chief
officers might occupy a post for only three years.

The lack of continuity would weaken leadership, weaken community ties
and destabilise police forces. No one would stay long enough to deliver
anything or live with the consequences of their decisions.

A further proposal is that senior officers from abroad should be
eligible to apply for chief officer posts. Police chiefs have a real
operational role. The public must have confidence that foreign police
chiefs would make good policing decisions in a British context. At a
time of unprecedented threat of international terror our national
interests may need to weigh heavily in this argument.

Our Police Service has a high reputation worldwide, as regular fact-
finding visits and requests for international assistance show.

We want to improve our leadership skills, but some of these proposals
threaten the professionalism and stability of the whole service.

They will erode public confidence and they attack local accountability.
We resist them most strongly.

Yours faithfully,
President, Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales,
25 Victoria Street, SW1H 0EX.
July 11.