This article critically evaluates proposals made within HMIC’s 2004 Thematic on modernising the police service. It identifies the significance of these by reference to the more general framework of New Labour’s commitment to modernising public services and the implications of this for the police service. It contrasts the response on the part of the police service to the current modernisation programme with that of police associations to the earlier Sheehy Inquiry and Posen Review in the early 1990s. The article assesses the role and status of civilian staff in the police service and draws on comparative data collected by HMIC on the use of such staff in police services around the world. It draws attention to the current use of ‘sworn’ and ‘non-sworn’ officers in a number of police forces abroad which may well provide some insight into the future structure of police services planned for England and Wales. The article thereafter considers the modernisation programme that is currently being piloted within Surrey Police. It considers the potential impact of recent party political competition over police numbers, particularly in relation to any planned reduction in police establishment occasioned by full implementation of Workforce Modernisation within police forces.