The Metropolitan Police have faced some difficult times of late. The top echelons of the service have come under relentless criticism for as long as i can remember. Each new story i read seems to demonstrate either poor management, systemic incompetence, or outdated operational resilience. I've said before that the met is an anomaly, they are expected to be all things to all men. On the one hand we want them to take on huge responsibilities in terms of national strategy, and on the other hand we want them to be a local force that deals with local issues. It is the weight of two conflicting responsibilities that makes the Met unwieldy and ineffective.
The Home Office itself has faced similar criticism, often from current and former Home Secretaries, and frequently from the press. For example; in 2006 the Home Office consisted of 6 ministers covering; criminal justice, prisons & probation, security & counter-terrorism, policing, crime prevention & anti social-behaviour reduction, immigration, asylum & border control, crime & security, and equalities & criminal information. I have written them out in full so you can see that the Home Office has responsibility for all of the most critical areas of our society. Imagine being a new home secretary, a former postman maybe, and finding yourself with such overwhelming responsibility. Knowing you are never going to be able to get to grips with every sub-department, agency or body, you have to rely heavily on your ministers, under-secretaries, and civil service. What's worse, if any of them make a mistake the you will be expected to resign [pdf]. I introduce you, ladies and gents, the curse of the Home Office. Thankfully the formation of the Ministry of Justice has broken that curse. It appears that, after some time haunting the corridors of Westminster, the curse has daintily settled atop The Yard.
The solution to the Met's current problems is by splitting it into two forces. The Metropolitan Police itself must focus on policing London, keeping its residents and visitors safe, and solving 'normal' crime. The National Crime Agency (NCA), as discussed here, should be responsible for everything else. National strategy, co-ordination, national emergency, and high profile investigations. Most importantly they should deal with any crime that risks compromising our system of democracy...they are many modern examples, and the Met have failed to prove they are capable of the sorts of independence we expect.