If you are, or have been, a Police Officer you can stop reading now, you already know it.
If you’re married to, or in a relationship with, a Police Officer, you can stop ready too, you already know it as well.
I was energised by two things this morning. Chronologically they were;
Tony Munday’s excellent post Cuts Have HUMAN Consequences
And a Tweet by @Stella_Coppard;
Tony makes some very valid, and excellent points, and I just want to take a few minutes to remind everyone just what sort of restrictions working for the Police Service comes with, most of which are not remunerated in any way.
You can never guarantee that you’ll come home at the end of your shift, although almost all officers accept that when they sign up it has an impact on families too.
You can never guarantee having those important dates off work, kids birthdays, anniversaries, wife/partner birthdays, etc etc. you can never even be certain of getting Christmas Day off to spend with the family, we had an unofficial system whereby officers with children got the first crack at being off, but nothing was ever guaranteed.
I do believe that things have improved now, but you could never guarantee being able to live wherever you wanted.
Firstly you had to live within a certain distance (I think it was 25 miles) of Central London if you were in the Met, thereby guaranteeing that your choice of accommodation was well and truly within the most expensive areas available. I know the allowances were more than those paid to County Officers, but not enough to fully compensate.
Secondly, even after you’d found the house of your dreams you couldn’t guarantee that you’d ever own it and move in. Having found the ideal house for my wife and self, we’d made an offer, negotiated a price and all that kind of stuff, then came the bit of asking the Commissioner for permission to live there (yes, really, that used to be how it was) we were declined the All-important permission as the next door neighbour was on bail for Armed Robbery. I wouldn’t particularly have wanted to live next door to an Armed Robber, but it’s one more example of how the Police used to control our lives.
Caution was required in your choice of pub, who you chose as your friends, who your kids made friends with, totally innocent that one, but Big Brother was always watching.
So, next time you hear about the Cuts and how they have Consequences, please remember that apart from their pay packets our brave Police Officers (and other) have already made numerous sacrifices just to do the job they do, and they do it proudly.
Getting on to Stella’s Tweet, she’s not far wrong, and I’m sure she didn’t mean it literally.
We have already lost 16,000 officers across England and Wales since 2010. At the end of March 2010 we had 144,236 officers in the 43 Forces.by the end of September 2014 that number was down to 127,909 a reduction of 16,327 or 11.3% across the board.
It doesn’t end there, it has been widely forecast/predicted/admitted that the losses haven’t finished and we’re going to lose more. The final total is quite likely to be in the order of 22,000 or 15.2%
That doesn’t begin to address the losses of civilian support staff. These have been cut from 79,596 in March 2010 to 63,378 in September 2014, a loss of a further 16,218 posts or 20.3%, already a higher price than the officers, and set to get worse also. ACPO have predicted that the final losses will likely total 68,000 by the time this coalition has finished.
So we lose 34,000 officers and 34,000 support staff? (as near as dammit) What does that matter? The coalition will be out come May and we can stop this nonsense dead in its tracks.
Assuming that Camoron and Co, Gollum and Cruella get their just desserts, and get pitched off into the long grass, all is OK isn’t it?
Well, no, actually. Hypothetically speaking, even IF we can oust the coalition and stop the cuts, and even IF we magically recruited another 16,000 Police Officers overnight and even IF we could get them all a place in a Training Establishment on Day One, it takes up to 2 years to fully train a Constable. Direct Entry Superintendents seem to be able to do it quicker, but approx 6 months of Initial Training followed by a further 18 months of Continuation Training, or whatever they call it now, makes 2 years for a fully fledged Constable, and we all know that those IFs aren’t all going to fall neatly into place.
So next time you’re quietly seething at the cuts wishing there was something you can do, there is. Take half an hour (ish) of your time and write a letter to your local newspaper Angry of Tunbridge Wells type stuff, and make the true issues known. Mainstream media seem to be completely tied by the government and only report what they want to or are told to, but if ONE person wrote to their local paper every day the groundswell would be noticed. Thanks to Stella and @Cate_a_Moore for the suggestion, it’s a good one, perfectly legal and definitely worth considering.
I see lots of people on Twitter wishing they could do more, slagging off the government policies etc etc, well there is something we can all do, and it doesn’t take much effort.
Whether you support the Police, Fire, NHS, Coastguard or whoever, it’s the same for us all. Even the dumbest Editor must sit up and take notice when his Newsdesk gets suddenly overwhelmed by letters from Joe Public supporting their Public Services.
I know I write from one perspective because of my background, but it doesn’t actually matter what your background is, if you support our Armed Forces, Emergency Services, NHS etc etc, simply write one letter to show your support.
This will not go away unless we can make it go away.