The development of policing in Britain in the next five years.
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The British police service is currently going through a radical transformation phase. The present Tory-led coalition government has set out an agenda to bring about drastic changes in policing. These proposed changes are unprecedented in the history of policing since 1829. The police service is governed by a tripartite arrangement of checks and balances laid down under the Police Act 1964. By this I mean that there are three key players in relation to police governance in Britain: the Home Secretary, the local police authority and the chief constable. The future of policing in the next five years is set out clearly by the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, which is currently being reviewed in the House of Lords. The recent phone hacking scandal has made it imperative for the British public to have a closer look at the police service in relation to proper accountability. There have been references to police corruption as far back as the era of 'parish constables', dating back to 1800, when it was alleged that police officers took bribes, got drunk whilst on duty and lacked moral credibility to protect and serve us (Critchley, 1978). In the seventies and eighties the British public was informed of another scandal involving members of Scotland Yard and criminal gangs in the East End of London. In this article, I shall argue that the issue of police corruption is not a new phenomenon. It is has been an ongoing issue that has haunted the police for over a century. This article is divided into three parts. In the first part of the article I present the following issues: the Metropolitan Police policing plan 2011-2014; the merits and demerits of the policing plan; tripartite police accountability and its shortcomings; democratic accountability and localisation of policing; the professionalisation of policing and the creation of the Police Body; review of police pay and benefits; and the impact of this on police officers' morale. In the second part of my article I present some of the criticisms levelled against the ongoing police reforms. I will look at the criticisms from both internal and external perspectives. By internal criticism, I mean police officers' opposition to the reforms. By external criticism, I mean criticisms from criminologists and members of the British public. In the third part of my article I made my position clear on where I stand in relation to the ongoing police reforms. I shall argue that the current ongoing job cuts in the police service are a disaster waiting to happen, and that our safety has been compromised by politicians. We are now living at the mercy of criminals and law breakers due to manpower shortage. We are all living witnesses to the ongoing public disturbances in Tottenham, Enfield, Brixton, Peckham, Walthamstow and Croydon, in London. The speed of the spread of these riots to other cities like Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool occurred on an unimaginable scale. We all watched how difficult it was for the police to restore order and normality. Rioters looted and plundered goods and burnt down buildings as if no laws existed in our country. A complete breakdown of law and order put the lives of citizens at risk. My article makes a passionate appeal to the present coalition government to rethink the issue of reducing the numbers of police officers protecting us. I shall argue that we need more police officers in Britain not fewer. The level of anger and social discontent is higher than the government ever anticipated, partly because of economic hardship. My argument is that economic hardship is not an excuse to commit burglary, theft, arson, murder and criminal damage with intent to endanger life. Rioters are shameless opportunists, a bunch of hoodlums, criminals who have no place in any civilised society, who should be made to face the due process of law.