Structure of police forces 'top heavy'

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POLICE FORCES should divert some of their pounds 1.5bn annual spend on management to providing more officers on the beat, according to consultants looking at pay and ranks.

Some forces spent up to 60 per cent of staff costs on the ranks of sergeant and above in a 'top heavy' structure, according to yesterday's report.

Based on research in the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Northern Constabulary in Scotland and the Greater Manchester, Thames Valley and Metropolitan forces, the report was compiled by a team of accountants and management consultants for the Sheehy inquiry.

It says management tiers should be reduced and more responsibility given to the remaining ranks to provide better value for money and greater overall efficiency.

Roles of senior staff should be looked at to improve management efficiency, including:

Line managers having greater control over resources;

Recognition of independent reviews at every level;

Use of civilian professional expertise in areas such as finance, personnel, information systems, procurement, training and management.

The report, by Ernst & Young and Towers Perrin, is a follow- up to their study into the roles and responsibilities of police officers, published in February.