Does police size matter? A review of the evidence regarding restructuring police organisations

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Police Practice and Research

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Restructuring and merging public sector organisations is often seen as a way to enhance efficiency and efficacy. There is ongoing debate about the impact of police force sizes, structures and mergers as police organisations attempt to adapt to reductions in their budgets and changes in patterns of criminality. The article reviews the evidence regarding key aspects of police reform: finding mixed evidence regarding the links between size and performance, while noting risks that mergers may impair local policing. The article discusses the impact of mergers on protective services, governance and accountability, while also discussing potential risks and opportunities associated with the merger process itself. The review finds significant gaps in the available evidence, and significant opportunities to expand the evidence base on this topic. Given current gaps in the evidence regarding size, efficacy and efficiency, it is important to give due consideration to symbolic and rhetorical aspects of mergers.