David Blunkett's plans to overhaul the police in a bid to improve efficiency and crime fighting ability will provide the force's HR departments with a major challenge over the next 12 months. By Ross Wigham
The police force faces a period of huge culture change during 2002 following the Home Secretary's radical proposals to revamp the force.
David Blunkett's 10-point plan for reform, which includes introducing performance-related pay and tackling under-performing forces, is the subject of delicate negotiations between the Home Office and the Police Federation.
The federation, which represents 125,000 rank and file officers, is concerned the reforms could drive down standards and force officers to work longer hours for less money.
It is also unhappy about Blunkett's plan to recruit thousands of civilians as uniformed police officers, which is one of the key aspects of the reforms.
HR will have to take a lead role in ensuring the reforms, which are under consultation until mid-February, are introduced effectively.
Ian Todd, chief superintendent for personnel at Northumbria Police - the only force in the country to have seen nine years of crime reduction - broadly supports the proposed reforms, but stressed their success will depend on how they are implemented.
"There are several big questions. We've got some general steers on what's going to happen, but the devil will be in the detail," he said.
Todd is not opposed in principle to one of the major proposals - to employ community wardens with police powers - although he thinks there are questions to be answered before they can be introduced.
"This may be part of the police force's evolution, but we need to know what powers they [the community wardens] will have, because it raises all sorts of HR issues like health and safety and training," he said.
"I'm certainly not against the idea, but we need to know more. Who will train them and who will be responsible for them?
"There are lots of personnel issues we have to deal with, like what the rewards will be and where their powers stop.
"Also, what if they're injured on duty? There's lots of work to be done before it can be fully implemented."
The Northumbria force has already trained 30 community wardens to crime-prevention standard. They operate in Blyth Valley and