Letter: The importance of retaining local accountability for Britain's police

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Sir: Sir John Wheeler deludes himself and your readers in arguing that a national police force will stop crime rising. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that centrally controlled state services are more efficient or competent than local ones. The fiction that social ills are curable by massive centralisation of power surely died with the democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe.

Sir John entirely ignores the issue of public consent, without which the police service cannot begin to carry out the tasks he requires of it. That consent cannot be secured through regional bureaucracies and the Home Office. It needs active and sensi-

tive accountability mechanisms through which local communities can democratically help to shape police objectives and monitor their achievement. Following Lord Scarman's report on the Brixton disorder, community involvement in local policing has improved that process. Now is not the time to alienate the police from local people by making them agents of a national force.

Yours faithfully,



Association of County Councils

London, SW1

9 February