Special report: Sheffield lecturers raise fears over police accountability if departments merged

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Fears have been raised about the accountability of policing if forces merge departments.

Bob Jeffrey, a senior sociology lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Proposals to merge policing units pose the danger of further blurring lines of local police accountability.


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“At present, if the public are dissatisfied with aspects of policing then they can theoretically vote the police and crime commissioner out.

“If lines of responsibility are split between a number of forces the danger is such direct accountability will be lost.

“However, merging forces has been ongoing for some time and has led to a reduction from more than 200 at the start of the 20th century to fewer than 50 by the end of the 1960s and just 43 in England and Wales today.

“The driving force behind such moves have been the increasing importance of budgetary constraints.”

Dr Craig Paterson, a senior criminology lecturer at the university, said: “The merger of a whole new tranche of policing services is a sign financial cuts are set to continue for the foreseeable future.

“There is no doubt this will impact on the quality of policing provision, but it will also allow the force to keep more officers on the street, which is what the public want to see.”