The Yorkshire Post says: The thin blue line. Is it time to merge police forces?

THE challenges facing Yorkshire's police officers are different to those of a decade ago when plans to merge the county's four forces were dropped by Gordon Brown due to political and public pressure at the time.

Should the number of police forces be cut?
Should the number of police forces be cut?

Today their workload is dominated by ever more sophisticated cyber-crime – or those who use the internet and social media to target the vulnerable.

There’s the growing phenomenon of ‘county lines’ where city-based drug dealers, and other gangs, deliberately exploit smaller towns – areas that already have diminished police resources.

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And then there’s the daily need to respond to 999 calls, to solve crimes and to keep the country safe from terrorists – all while coming to terms with austerity cuts that have seen Yorkshire’s forces lose 3,000-plus staff over the past eight years.

It can’t continue like this – police and other emergency workers do appear to be increasingly susceptible to stress – and Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s sympathetic words need to be matched by a new realism on the Government’s part.

Not only does the police funding formula need to be overhauled to take account of these new threats, but the time has also come to look afresh at the structure of policing. Even though forces do work together, it is increasingly difficult to justify 43 separate constabularies in England and Wales – each with their own bureaucracies – when a more streamlined set-up could deliver efficiencies that could, in turn, be invested in frontline officers and the fight against crime. Like a decade ago, the challenge is doing so without compromising community or rural policing still further.