Basic Command Units (BCUs) and local authorities: future mechanisms of police accountability and service delivery

Barry Loveday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers the origin and growth of the police Basic Command Unit (BCU) and its impact on the internal management of police forces. It assesses the changing perception of appropriate manpower levels for BCUs and the impact of this on the size of these police units. It evaluates the absence of any fixed professional criteria in the determination of viability of the BCU and notes the similarity between this and the determination of size of police forces. It notes that the effectiveness of the BCU as measured by HMIC has not included civilian staff even though these now make up a third of BCU personnel and contribute to the overall efficiency of this unit of policing. Finally it reflects on the statutory basis planned for BCUs within the Police and Justice Act 2006 and the Home Secretary's requirement made in 2005 that in future all BCU boundaries should be made coterminous with those of the local authority. It also considers the current debate concerning the determination of viability of BCUs in terms of manpower levels and responsibilities. It presents some current viewpoints relating to factors that influence the overall efficiency and effectiveness of BCUs and potential developments that could serve to encourage local police governance within a local government framework designed to deliver effective community safety and local joint crime reduction strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-335
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


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