Traditional beat patrol
What sort of policing do you think we should have?
Are you a Dixon of Dock Green kind of person, looking for a reassuring avuncular bobby pacing the mean streets and enforcing the respect agenda by his very presence?
Or maybe you would prefer the 1970's-style bang-'em-up, hard men nicking villains and keeping a lid on organised crime as seen in "Life on Mars"?
Or perhaps you think the most important thing for our police force to be is clever and intelligent, using its smarts like "Dalziel and Pascoe" to keep us safe from equally clever criminals?
Part of the problem, of course, is that depending on what sort of crime they are dealing with, you want all three sorts of copper - and maybe others besides.
And that is something that politicians of all parties are wrestling with at the moment - just what should a twenty-first century police force be for?
Is Policing structure 'fit for purpose'
According to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, forces of fewer than 4,000 officers are no match for modern crime.
In their report they say the current police structure is "no longer fit for purpose".
One much publicised idea from the government is to amalgamate the existing county forces into larger, regional ones.
There are certainly plenty of permutations being touted around:
- Dorset with Hampshire
- Dorset with Devon, Cornwall, Avon & Somerset
- Kent with Surrey and Sussex
- Hampshire with Surrey and Sussex.
The advantage, so it is argued, is that criminals do not respect county borders, and we need more specialised units than a single-county force can manage in order to deal with increasingly sophisticated criminals and terrorists.
The "Dalziel and Pascoe" approach, if you like.
But what about poor old George Dixon? How can his boss in the Thames Valley, say, be responsive to the sort of policing that is needed on the street in Portsmouth?
Perhaps not surprisingly, Charles Clarke's proposals have not gone down well with the nation's Chief Constables, two-thirds of whom are opposed to them.
The Conservatives too are against them - David Cameron in a recent speech declared "You cannot be tough on crime unless you are tough on police reform".
He wants to make it easier to sack poorly performing officers, and to see them paid by results not length of service.
The Lib Dems want to save money by smaller forces sharing resources, and are calling for greater powers for local communities.
So, back to the original question - what sort of policing do you think we should have?
Drop us an email and we will put your points to our invited politicians.
The Politics Show
Join Peter Henley live on Sunday 12 February 2006 at 11.55am on BBC One.
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