4. 4.1 National reforms: police KEY INSTITUTIONS IN POLICE POLICY In both countries the key institutions evolved over the period of study, and some new ones emerged. The most obvious pattern in England was the creation (or enhancement) of a series of national-level bodies to deal with the perceived gap left by the famous absence of a national police force. These included bodies devoted to scrutiny or improvement, such as a strengthened and more inquisitive HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Audit Commission (which has carried out a number of influential performance audits of different aspects of policing – see, for example, Audit Commission, 1990, 1996) and, more recently, the National Policing Improvement Agency. Alongside these have appeared a number of new executive and operational units, including the National DNA Database, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Home Office Police Standards Unit and the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Perhaps most important of all has been the development of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO): The Home Office has . . . encouraged (ACPO) to develop a much higher profile and expand its role, as a means of enhancing the standardization and centralization of policing. (Reiner, 2000, p. 192; see also Jones, 2008, pp. 7–8) By 2004 the ACPO appears repeatedly on the face of government planning documents, cited as a partner and guarantor of the professionalism of the proposed measures (for example Home Office, 2004). In Belgium our period begins with three main groups of police, each rather different from each other. First...
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