Are Britain's police up to the job? It is a big question and there is not a simple answer. In some ways they are up to it, but in other ways they are not. The issue, long fudged, dominated many late-20th century debates about policing, and still penetrates every important argument about the police service today, whether that discussion is about pay and conditions in an age of austerity, about the introduction of police and crime commissioners or, as the Guardian is reporting this week, about learning the lessons of the 2011 urban riots. It is indisputably also at the heart of Monday's report from the police inspectorate about the impact of force budget cuts.
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