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News - 31 July 2010

Can Canada give British police a lesson in efficiency and value for money?

David Copperfield, a former PC now serving in Canada, explains why his new force is so much better – and cheaper – for the public.

Says David Butterfield: "The prophets of doom say Home Office cuts will hand Britain's streets to criminals: 60,000 police jobs could go, says the BBC; the Association of Chief Police Officers thinks 20,000 bobbies could be sacked. I read these reports from across the Atlantic – having left the British police to join a force in Canada two years ago – with bemusement.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Butterfield says his experience tells him that British police could easily slash billions from budgets and actually improve policing - which he describes as "a job creation scheme for bureaucrats.

"Over here in the wheat-and-oil province of Alberta, Edmonton is home to one million people and is a relatively high-crime city by Canadian standards. Compare us with Greater Manchester Police. They cover about 2.5 million people, but the problems – drugs, sex offences, violent crime, domestic abuse, burglary and public order – are the same.   So how do both forces stack up?

"Well, there are 10 violent crimes per 1,000 people in Edmonton; in Greater Manchester, Home Office statistics show 16 offences of violence per 1,000 people (in Manchester itself, the figure is nearly 24/1,000, and in Britain as a whole, 15/1,000).

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, our 2009 Citizen Survey shows that 89 per cent of residents "have a lot of confidence in the Edmonton Police Service", with 66 per cent saying they feel safe walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark. In the GMP area, only 50 per cent of people think the police are doing an "excellent or good" job, which leaves an awful lot of unhappy taxpayers. But do we spend more money? No. The EPS budget for 2010 is £150 million – or £150 for every citizen. The GMP budget is £690 million – or £276 for every citizen. They could lose 40 per cent of their budget and still have more cash per capita than we do. "

Read the rest of David Butterfield's article in The Daily Telegraph here

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