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There are currently 43 police authorities in the UK, with ~130,000 officers. While it might be more efficient to have 1 police force, people generally appear not to like the idea of a state-controlled centralised force. The organisation, structure and powers of police forces is very political, therefore change occurs frequently.


The Police Act 1996 put a Chief Constable in charge of each police force: the most senior officer, in charge of the direction and control of that police force. The Act also created Police Authorities consisting of 17 members – 9 councillors and 8 chosen others and required that the Home Secretary provide half of a force’s funding. Police authorities and the Home Secretary’s powers have now been replaced.

The Police Reform Act 2002 gave more power to the Home Secretary, allowing the suspension of Chief Constables; a power rarely exercised. The Chief Constable of Humberside Police was suspended following murders by Ian Huntley: the Cambridgeshire Police had not been informed of Huntley’s past convictions on request. The 2002 Act also provided for the use of Community Support Officers: staff who could be on half the wage of Constables and carry out less important roles. Investigation Officers, such as forensic scientists, were also permitted by the Act, as was the contracting out of Escort Officers to external companies. The Independent Police Complaints Commission was established by this Act.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 followed the 2010 general election to implement the Convervative-Liberal Democrat coalition’s manifestos...

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