My readers will be aware of my ‘passion’ for policing in the UK, hardly surprising given the fact it has been a major part of my adult life. More importantly, I have grave concerns for the ‘tried & tested’ concept of British Policing. It has suffered from, countless years of government interference and, senior officer mismanagement, often for personal gain…
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have, since the current government came to power and announced massive public spending cuts, consistently talked of the threats to front line policing and service delivery. The media has been full of scare mongering spin about the dire effects these cuts will have on the public. It is true, the proposed cuts are likely to adversely affect front line policing however, it really doesn’t have to be that way!
If you don’t want to see unoccupied and unused police vehicles rusting away in the corner of some derelict police station yard, please read on…
There are numerous areas of the administration and management machine that can (and should be) trimmed before wielding the knife on the part that matters most to the public i.e. Police Officers!
Even as recent as this morning, “Hampshire Constabulary plans to axe 1,400 posts – 20% of its workforce – including police officers.” (BBC News)
As I take part in various groups and internet forums which discuss the proposed ‘reform’ of British policing, I am fully aware of the ongoing posturing and argument which is taking place. The following information (reproduced in full) is from the Paul McKeever, the Chairman of the Police Federation in England & Wales (PFEW). In the letter he sets out the realities of the situation…
‘CHRISTMAS FOR CRIMINALS’
It has struck me that many people seem unaware that although the Governments Comprehensive Spending Review is published on the 20th October, budgets are actually starting to be set now in some government departments. The Treasury ‘Star Chamber’ that will sit and decide departmental budgets is chaired by George Osborne (Con) the Chancellor, with Danny Alexander (LibDem) First Secretary to the Treasury, sitting as his deputy. William Hague, Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin will all be full members of the ‘Star Chamber’. As each minister agrees their departments budget with the Treasury that minister then joins ‘The Star Chamber’ to sit in judgement on their peers who are yet to set their budgets. So if you are a minister there is an incentive to settle your budget early.
It is thought that the Home Office won’t agree their budget with the Treasury until towards the end of this month, or maybe even later at the Conservative Conference at the start of October. Either way, there is little time left to pursued and influence in relation to the cuts.
So, it looks like those that care about the British way of policing have got a month to save the public from impending peril and to prevent the police service from facing meltdown
The questions and points that haven’t yet been put or asked are…
- The first duty of any government is the protection of its citizens
- Any government that fails in their duty is unfit to govern
- Why isn’t the police service being given priority treatment by the government in the same way that the NHS and Education departments have been prioritised? We recognise the government has got to make cuts but they have clearly decided that some areas are more important than others. So why does it appear they care so little about crime and anti-social behaviour when it is given such a high priority by the public? Is the government badly advised, or out of touch with the world ordinary people live in? We think they’re badly advised.
- Public Safety is at real risk due to the proposed 25% – 40% cuts. Those at greatest risk will be the most vulnerable in society.
- The government risks putting the public at substantially greater risk of experiencing violent crime, anti-social behaviour, a rise in crime generally and a dramatically reduced policing service. This position is compounded by the apparent desire of Ken Clarke, Justice Minister, to empty the prisons and deal with serious criminals through the failing community service orders.
- There are examples emerging across the country that indicate the size of what is to come if nothing changes. Mersey-side Police is set to lose 800 officers, Kent Police 500. Dr Tim Brain has estimated the police service will lose 60,000 if the cuts are implemented.
- Police professionals throughout England and Wales recognise that if the cuts go ahead at the proposed level many forces will be offering a very basic service and some forces might actually fail. There is no doubt that the public will be put at much greater risk. Yet very few members of ACPO appear ready to question the cuts. It appears they are following the same line as the story about the Kings new clothes. However, we know privately that many chief officers are talking about what amounts to the destruction of the British Police Service as we know it.
- The government appears to unwittingly be creating a very volatile mix that can be described as ‘Christmas for Criminals’.
- Nick Herbert, the police minister is a man who we like and respect but the government seems to believe completely the very poor advice emanating from some think tanks, chief constables and business gurus about how savings can be made without any detrimental effect on policing. Those of us who work in the real world rather than within think tanks, no matter how brilliant the minds employed there, recognise the risks. Therefore, it is our duty to do something about it because ACPO, a private limited company, won’t. The Police Federation doesn’t want to see a government with good intentions sunk through the absence of any-one telling them of the peril they face. We are police officers, we are expected to tell the truth and we will do that. ACPO’s extraordinary ‘solution’ to the conundrum of budget reductions is simple but crude and totally unrealistic; reduce costs by destroying the pay and conditions of police officers (but not ACPO officers). How the CABAL within ACPO, the so called leaders of the service could show such disregard for their own officers is beyond belief, especially when they seem intent on ensuring those holding ACPO rank won’t experience any of the pain their own officers will be facing.
- I fear that if the government doesn’t step back from the precipice they will be answering some very difficult questions from their constituents in the next few years as the consequences of their actions start to bite them very hard indeed.
It’s one month to save the police, or it will be ‘Christmas for Criminals’
Paul McKEEVER (Chairman – PFEW)
As you read this ACPO are probably even now preparing further news releases about ‘massive cuts to frontline services’. Remember, it really doesn’t have to be this way!
- Police Warning: ‘Don’t Cut Our Budgets’ (news.sky.com)
- Funding cuts could make current policing ‘unsustainable’ (independent.co.uk)
- Hampshire police to cut 1,400 jobs (guardian.co.uk)
- 60,000 police jobs ‘under threat’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Watchdog warnings on police cuts (bbc.co.uk)