Reality behind the spin

North Yorkshire Police
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In recent weeks it has become painfully obvious to many; the recent restructuring of police command and control facilities within North Yorkshire Police had absolutely nothing to do with operational efficiency. The whole process (despite the spin) was cleverly and systematically engineered simply to save money. Some would argue that financial issues form a major part of efficiency so it should be commended however; what of the human cost and perhaps just as important if not more so, what are impacts upon the community of North Yorkshire and the safety of those officers who serve them?

Already, in stark contradiction to all the previous rhetoric about falling crime across the country, and the associated ‘feel good stories’ churned out by police PR departments, designed in the main to show the public how good the managers are, we are starting to see an alarming increase in crime across the county…

Crime rising throughout North Yorkshire in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2010 seeing increases of more than 15 per cent in Harrogate, 13 per cent in Selby and six per cent in York, and a force-wide rise of nearly six per cent. (MinsterFM)

No body likes to take the smug route and say “I told you so” however; Mark Botham, Chairman of the local branch of the Police Federation has said;

“Cuts of this magnitude are criminal and, despite the very best efforts of police officers, will undoubtedly lead to a poorer service for the residents and businesses in North Yorkshire.”

With many of the proposals put in place by the beleaguered Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, a great deal of the negative impacts were actually foreseen by the practitioners however; managers and the police authority chose not to listen whilst the public in many respects, have actually been lied to again. And all that before you even start to consider the impacts upon those staff made redundant, or having to work through the mismanaged mess.

Given that a greater number of staff actually applied for voluntary redundancy than the force (reportedly) envisaged or expected, many would consider it strange how the force has already been interviewing prospective staff to fill vacant positions. When you consider the financial issues it’s not as odd as it may originally appear. Most of those already dispensed with (or due to go) were at the higher levels of salary structure for their role. When the lions share of your anual expenditure is people costs, replacing those individuals (eventually) with new recruits realises an immediate  financial saving in the region of £5-10k per individual. How smart is that? Even better if you can dispense with all that experience and knowledge and still convince the public there will be no impact upon service. It’s the same methodology that has recently been applied to police officers under Reg. A19 of the Police Regulations; get rid of the expensive ones and replace them with cheaper ones!

Many of those who have left / are leaving are also those who are expected to train and tutor new recruits ergo; poorly trained new staff working with others of limited experience equals poorer levels of service to the public. The extra workload placed upon those inexperienced staff will also have a negative impact upon the whole call handling process. Get ready for longer call waiting times and inaccurate and/or unreliable advice being offered to the public. The previously built-in redundancy factor of two control rooms provided an element of systems resilience. Now any failure within the system has the propensity to be even more catastrophic than previously. All failures within these systems can (and do) have major impacts upon officer safety, let alone service delivery to the public. But hey, it’s ok, the Chief has promised he can do more with less!

The cuts we are witnessing, despite all the political and police chief spin, are impacting upon both officer visibility, availability and their support structures. The reality of decreasing standards in service delivery means; we the public of North Yorkshire are the ultimate victims in all this!

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