A Populus survey for the Policy Exchange think tank reveals that yet another plank of Labour’s regionalisation agenda is unpopular with the public. The survey reveals that opposition to plans for the merging of police forces is greatest when the public is most aware of the proposals. Among those surveyed who are aware of the merger plans, Populus found that 43% were opposed and only 20% supportive. Download a PDF of the full results of the Populus/ PX survey.
Nick Herbert MP, the shadow minister devising the Conservative Party’s programme of police reform (plans which could be greatly complicated by force regionalisation), welcomed the findings:
"It’s clear that the public strongly oppose police force mergers. People want policing to be local, responsive and accountable. The new Home Secretary should get his priorities right and drop this costly, unnecessary, unwanted and distracting reorganisation."
The polls follow a particularly chaotic couple of days for the proposals. Yesterday’s Telegraph noted research from Tim Brain, chief constable of Gloucestershire, that the implementation of Labour’s plan "would cost the equivalent of 25,000 police officer salaries". Thursday’s Western Mail reported that chief constables had "walked out on talks" about plans for an all-Wales police service.
James O’Shaughnessy, Head of Research at Policy Exchange, said that “Local residents know that merging police forces will mean fewer police, less accountability and less attention paid to local crime. Home Secretary John Reid must act to stop these plans now.” Mr O’Shaughnessy may get his action quickly. There is Westminster speculation that the new Home Secretary may use a speech next week to backtrack on the regionalisation agenda inherited from his discredited predecessor.