Letter: Totalitarian step towards a national police force

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Sir: Your leading article 'Policing the police' rightly supports the widespread agreement that changes in our police force are needed but plans for reform must not be based too enthusiastically on recommendations from an inquiry run predominantly by businessmen. Such an inquiry, if alarmed at the state of police management, must wonder at these results after more than 20 years of the police being almost force-fed with the theories and practices of business.

As a former Civil Service Commissioner, I had close association with police matters arising from the introduction and running of procedures of higher grade selection. Underlying the questions of regional or national forces (including the impact of the two miners' strikes, relationships with local authorities and further amalgamations) must be the stance on what is eventually a matter of philosophy - 'What do we want the police for?'

The answer lies somewhere between two poles: the conviction of a former Lord Chief Justice that the role of the police is to deal with 'real crime', and that of men such as John Alderson that the police, in addition, form one of our vital social services.

Yours sincerely,


Leatherhead, Surrey

18 January