Newspaper review: Police plans welcomed by press


Plans to offer senior police roles to foreigners - or people outside the profession - are widely welcomed in Thursday's papers.

Reform has been a long-time coming, says the Times. Our police are men and women of often daunting courage and selflessness, it says, but their institutions are "too often reactionary and cack-handed".

And in an age when a Canadian can run the Bank of England, it says, the only argument should be the quality of the candidate.

The Star accepts that the police service must be reformed but cannot see how parachuting "foreign coppers and businessmen" into high ranking positions is going to help.

Morale will plummet, it says, as officers trying to work their way through the ranks have to take orders from "some business school desk-jockey who has never pounded the beat".

The Telegraph can see how the changes might generate resentment, but believes it is time for "an injection of fresh blood".

It says the scheme should be limited to outstanding candidates who have something extra to bring to the job.

The Independent feels the Home Office should go further, and reduce the number of police forces.

Having "40 chief constables running 40 petty fiefdoms" is a ridiculous and outmoded state of affairs, it says.

US dip

The first decline in the US economy for three years, makes the front page of the Financial Times.

The paper says the dip - in the fourth quarter of last year - rattled the financial markets and highlighted the uncertainty caused by the political battles in Washington over fiscal policy.

Several papers have a breakdown of what the Guardian calls the MoD's £160 billion shopping list for the next decade.

It includes a bill of almost £36 billion for seven Astute class submarines and a new fleet of Vanguard submarines carrying nuclear ballistic missiles.

More than £18 billion will go on fighter jets and drones, £17 billion on ships - including two large aircraft carriers, £12 billion on armoured vehicles and £12 billion on helicopters.

The chairwoman of the public accounts committee, Labour MP Margaret Hodge, says she is concerned that the MoD has not set aside sufficient contingency funds to cope with a predicted overspend.

Tide turning?

The Telegraph wonders whether the "tide is turning" against Alex Salmond's campaign for an independent Scotland.

The Electoral Commission's decision to reject his preferred wording for the referendum question was, it says, another small victory for the unionist cause.

But while the odds may be lengthening on a yes vote, the paper warns against underestimating "this wiliest of politicians".

Those who love the Union must not take their foot off the pedal - they must win the argument and settle the question of separation for good, it says.

Finally, BT has apologised on behalf of an Indian call centre worker who told a customer he had never heard of Wales.

The Sun reports that Eve Butler, who is 76, was trying to get through to BT's Welsh-language office in Bangor to discuss her direct debit.

But the adviser told Mrs Butler he was not aware of the country - nor the language - and could not help her.

The paper points out that Mrs Butler received her apology in Welsh.

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