The 19th of June is the anniversary of the passing of Sir Robert Peel’s Act to create the Metropolitan Police in London in 1829.

The creation of a professional police force was enacted against considerable public and Parliamentary reservation. Many people looked at the continental model of national gendarmeries which were regarded as odious and repulsive instruments of tyranny, as indeed they were. Historically, the British model of policing is quite different; the constable is no more than a citizen in uniform with additional powers as granted by Parliament, but resting very firmly on the principle of public consent, and with accountability to the courts.

Even with these concepts in mind, Peel struggled to achieve success. This finally came about when the City of London was exempted from the Metropolitan Police Act and to this day retains its own small but very effective police service. It is a highly regarded force with specialist knowledge of crime and fraud in the financial services sector.

In England, the police structure has evolved in a haphazard way, largely based on local or borough forces and with the costs of policing bring shared between local and national taxation.

This system of funding is constantly being challenged by events. A current example is the Salisbury investigation which requires huge resources which cannot be fully met from local funding.

Most police funding comes from central taxation with only about ten per cent being local. Over the years, police structural reforms have reduced the number of forces in England and Wales to 43. In addition there are special national forces such as the British Transport Police and the Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary. The most significant innovation was the establishment of the National Criminal Investigation Service and National Crime Squad in 1997 of which I was the founder Chairman; now the National Crime Agency.

The success of our policing model has always been based on the Peel principles of policing, one of which remains crucial to this day, namely: to seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law. And, to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State.

Sadly, Chief Police Officers have failed to honour these concepts along with the Crown Prosecution Service leading to the public scandal of the failure to disclose evidence that would be in favour of an accused person. This especially relates to allegations of rape or sexual assault.

It took the independent Criminal bar to expose this injustice. But how did it happen? What could have possessed chief officers and the CPS to behave in such an irresponsible way.

The unwelcome import of the American style of police accountability with Police and Crime Commissioners, a completely unwanted and absurd structure, for which the public had no desire for and on the whole does not vote for, has further demonstrated a failure to hold chief police officers to account for policy decisions.

The Royal Commission on the Police of 1962, in a minority report, suggested a national police structure. To an extent that has been partly answered with the National Crime Agency, but there remain serious structural problems.  With half the known crime being committed on the internet and no effective police response, the question must arise as to whether the current model for policing is appropriate. Some radical new thinking is required. Will it come from a think tank or perhaps (some hope) from a political party?

There remains the issue of effective police communication systems, both in the Metropolitan Police and between the 43 forces.

This issue has recently come into focus with the dramatic rise in so called moped muggings in London. The British police use Airwave established in 2000, the New York City Police use the Domain Awareness System launched in 2012. Police management has become complicated, the Home Office, the Mayor, the Commissioner, the Chief Officers. Is this effective? These are challenging questions for politicians and policy makers and they need addressing.

The Right Honourable Sir John Wheeler, DL, was Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee and Minister for Security in Northern Ireland from 1993-1997.