I do hope you don’t mind Rachel but I’m revisiting one of your quotes and running with it.
Back in February this year Rachel Rogers (@DorsetRachel) a former candidate for the post of Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset had this to say;
“The government is using police and crime commissioners to keep the impact of their budget cuts at arms length, thus putting the responsibility on the PCCs to raise money locally to pay for things that were previously paid for by central government.” and “I would’ve been put in exactly the same position (had I won), and said throughout my police and crime commissioner campaign that the policing precept in Dorset would have to go up in order to compensate for the massive cuts being made by national government.”
The government have, as you well know, cut the police spending budget by 20% meaning the loss of around 300 officers and 200 staff in Dorset.
Even the dubious Home Office figures show that the total number of Police Officers in Dorset has fallen from 1,486 in March 2010 to 1,301 in March 2013.
Across the country numbers have fallen from 146,912 in March 2010 to 132,608 in March 2013, loss of 14,304 officers (or a smidgeon under 10%) in 3 years, and it’s not over yet.
I can only agree with Rachel, the government is keeping the Police at arm’s length via the PCCs, so conveniently dreamt up by Policy Exchange. 10% and due to rise, the sound of budgets being slashed abounds. Only an idiot would actually agree that the Police can continue to function with less resources. I’m all in favour of efficiency drives but they can only improves things by so much. 10%? I seriously doubt it.
This, and other things that have happened recently, have got me thinking. Whether or not we move towards a National Police Service, and opinion is divided on that, we certainly seem to be moving towards Fire Brigade Policing. By that I mean rushing out to deal with the emergencies and less emphasis on routine patrolling. Police Officers are getting busier, measuring crime figures is only one measure of how busy they are. Anti Social Behaviour, Mental Illness (a subject in its own right), Public Order etc etc all strain reduced resources. And how do you explain a government that is wholly responsible for slashing Police budgets by 20%, manpower by 10% already and then create an environment whereby Joe Public wants to take to the streets and demonstrate against Pay Freezes, Job Losses and Pension Cuts. This almost guarantees that Police will fail and then we can all blame the Police, because that’s what this government, unlike any other before it, has taught us to do.
PCSOs and Specials are taking up the slack to a degree but they are a finite resource, and in fact the total number of PCSOs nationally has reduced since March 2010 as well, whereas the total number of Specials has increased by over 3,000 nationally.
Put all this together and my vision of the future is a company such as G4S providing the patrolling function, fixed posts of low sensitivity, protection of insecure or vulnerable premises, reporting and recording of crimes etc. leaving sworn officers to investigate the crimes that have previously been recorded, arresting suspects, armed protection etc and all other duties which require a sworn officer to carry them out.
So there you have it, RetiredAndAngry’s vision of the future shape of the Police Service. I do hope, just for once, that I’m wrong.