Paying the Bill

IF the answer is more bosses, then you are asking the wrong question. After appointing a new deputy chief constable for the whole of the region, Yorkshire police services have to prove wrong this old dictum.

It is a challenging task but by no means an impossible one. If Mark Whyman, previously South Yorkshire assistant chief constable and now deputy chief constable for the whole region, can tackle criminals who work across different force areas, while finding ways to save money, then he will have justified the costs of his new role and of setting up his office.

Many will have concerns, however, about a reform that could be perceived as adding another layer of bureaucracy to a profession already well-known for the weight of its paperwork.

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The public spending deficit and the certainty of post-election cuts mean the police will have to make savings. The only question is how. The possibility of merging forces, finally abandoned by John Reid, when he was Home Secretary, has been revived in recent weeks by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary. With police already collaborating on the roads, in intelligence gathering and in asset recovery, and the suggestion earlier this month that some sensitive CID work could also be regionalised, the wind seems to be blowing towards the creation of "super-forces".

This should be resisted. While efficiency can clearly be improved through collaboration, a full-blown merger of Yorkshire forces would create enormous logistical difficulties for the work of the police, not least because of the region's enormous geographical reach.

Mr Whyman has a tough job to do. Ministers and the public will study his work as closely as the police would watch any suspect.