First the local: in the near future we will be able to comment on how crime rates from April, 2010 to March, 2011 compared to the same period last year. I anticipate a significant reduction in crime again. In the coming year we expect a real challenge to keep a lid on crime in the wake of reductions within the Constabulary which have already been announced. But, for now, it's good news with South Cumbria being safer than in previous years with hundreds less victims of crime compared to last year.
What about the wider policing world? From within the complex world of policing , here's a snap shot of what I think is changing:
- Police & Crime Commissioners(PCCs) - the government is intent on replacing Police Authorities with PCCs in May, 2012. That means in Cumbria, all the local communities of Cumbria will have a 'Boris Johnson' who they can call upon to hold their police force to account. The debate is now going from 'should we or shouldn't we' to 'how will it work?' My advice to the PCC for Cumbria - get a reliable car! We have lots of communities. Maintaining the operational independence of the chief constable is the central issue here and the details of how this will work are slowly emerging.
- Privatisation: Who would have thought..... The police will be asked over the coming year to make best use of the private sector. How comfortable will the public be with that? The idea is not all new with some apparently successful initiatives across the country. In Wales for example, custody provision has been privatised. However, the public will still demand and expect a 'normal' police service. So,how far will privatisation go and will it make the service better?
- Collaboration: The police service has less money and so police forces are being asked to work together in lots of different ways as well as being asked to work with other public organisations and the voluntary sector. In fact, government is saying - just get on with it as long as it is in the public interest.