The director of Norway’s state police force, Odd Reidar Humlegård, is following up calls to simplify and streamline police administration. He recommended on Monday that Norway’s 27 police districts be consolidated into just six.
“It can seem like a very radical and comprehensive reorganization,” Humlegård acknowledged at a press conference on Monday, but he added that he thinks the proposal has a lot of support at the local level.
The aim is to get better cooperation among police nationwide and, especially, to prevent criminals themselves from exploiting the borders of police districts, which often have acted as their own law enforcement entities.
Norway’s police were also the target of massive criticism following the terrorist attacks of July 22, 2011, with police district borders said to have hindered communication and the dispatch of officers badly needed at the scene of the attacks.
Humlegård believes a major consolidation will create “more robust police districts,” cutting administration and merging small stations so that there can be “more police competence out in the field where people live.” The six police chiefs, one for each district, could also sit on a national board where they could have more efficient cooperation and planning sessions.
Humlegård proposes one district for all of northern Norway, merging the Nordland, Troms and Finnmark districts. A central Norwegian district would encompass the current Sør- and Nord-Trøndelag districts with Møre og Romsdal, while a new western district would combine the current Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland and Rogaland districts.
The police districts in the Agder, Telemark, Buskerud and Vestfold districts would also merge in a new southern district, as would Oslo and Asker og Bærum for one “Greater Oslo” police district. A large new eastern district would include the current Oppland, Hedmark, Akershus and Østfold districts.