The visibility of police in England and Wales has been increasing but a quarter of people have never seen an officer on patrol in their area, figures suggest…(bbc.co.uk)
If we all know about this lack of tangible and visible policing, you can bet your bottom dollar the crooks also know about it and consequently, they are well able to proceed about their daily business unimpeded. The yobs also know about it and will continue to enjoy their drunken rampages unchecked; so why then have politicians and senior police officers continuously denied the fact?
Where are all our bobbies? One in four Britons has NEVER seen a police officer on the beat…(Mail Online)
How many in politics and public sector leadership are actually magnanimous enough to admit their failings? Not many! Much better to disguise those management failings with contrived corporate PR endeavours, backed up by massaged statistical information. How else does one protect one’s position of self-interest and self-importance?
Historically, the British Crime Survey method of surveying criminal justice issues has been regarded (by some but not me) as a valid measure of performance within the CJS however; in light of recent findings, can this really be the case any more? Is the true picture of reality reflected in its findings?
Professor Ken Pease, former acting head of the Home Office‘s police research group, and Professor Gary Farrell of Loughborough University, estimated in 2007 that the BCS was underreporting crime by about 3 million incidents per year due to its practice of arbitrarily capping the number of crimes one can be victimised by in a given year…(wikipedia.org)
And that doesn’t even take into account; the exclusion of residents of communal establishments, e.g. hostels, care homes and university halls of residence, from its surveys. Or, its inability to offer statistics for so-called “victimless” crimes, such as those concerning the abuse, possession and trafficking of drugs. The BCS also fails to record crimes against businesses, commercial premises and vehicles and (because it is a victim survey) instances of murder and manslaughter. As usual the age-old adage rings true, lies, damn lies and statistics and mostly, not really worth the paper they are written on (see here).
So what of the real impacts locally? North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has lost over two hundred Police Officer posts in the past few years and the manner in which budgets are now being dealt with will decrease the number of officers to 1970’s levels. This is simply not going to provide a sufficient presence to deal with the demands of crime and community safety. The reductions have been as a result of local decisions by the North Yorkshire Police Authority (NYPA) and the force senior management.
You will never increase visibility whilst the management at a force level appear to value the headquarters functions above those that deliver the patrol presence…(Peter Walker – Retired Deputy Chief Constable NYP)
This is all a resulting factor of one of the largest negative impacts upon public sector service delivery over recent years; the exponential growth in management. If I’d received a financial contribution to my social entertainment fund every time I’ve read, “the Home Secretary has authorised an increase in establishment for one Superintendent within XYZ Dept and this will be offset by a reduction in two Constable posts” during the past 30+ years, I wouldn’t have to work in my retirement for my beer fund.
On the true and tangible values to police service delivery in many those newly ‘authorised’ middle to senior management posts, I would hasten to add; if tasked with the organisation of brewery trips, most would turn out to be extremely dry events!
But like most agencies, the police are not alone in having moved towards a situation where there are often, more bloody chiefs than indians in the workforce. Local authorities, emergency services, the NHS and as the Daily Mail and others also pointed out recently (see here), even the BBC are all suffering from it.
The BBC has been accused of “sustaining a massive bureaucracy” after it emerged it has almost 4,500 separate job titles and nearly 2,000 staff classified as managers…(independent.co.uk)
In addition to the grotesque growth of management, there is also another almost criminal factor impacting upon public sector funding, especially during this period of austerity. I refer to the number of highly paid CEO’s within the sector who accept handsome redundancy packages, and then almost immediately, return to the same management malaise as equally highly remunerated consultants. A factor evidenced recently in the NHS by the Daily Telegraph.
A series of NHS executives who quit their posts with lucrative payoffs have been re-employed on temporary contracts worth thousand of pounds a day…(telegraph.co.uk)
Although I’m aware of similar circumstances at lower levels within policing, as opposed to CEO levels in other agencies or local authorities, the expected golden hand-shake payment to the Chief Constable of N.Yorks police, despite the finding of guilt at his recent disciplinary enquiry, is another example in point on the unethical, bordering on criminal, mismanagement of public money. These are all factors profoundly impacting upon the ever decreasing financial capability and resilience of the public piggy bank.
Talking on the subject of Public Sector Management in The Guardian at the beginning of the month, Colin Cram declared; “It’s time to hold public sector managers to account.” He may have been referring to the NHS in particular on this occasion however; the same issues ring true right across the sector, not least within the police and I would have to agree with him.
Cuts aren’t the only option: when faced with reduced funding, managers should explore all the options before wielding the axe…Public sector chief executives and senior managers are highly paid compared to their predecessors. However, many were appointed when times were good. Some may not have the leadership skills, experience, the right personality and the overall capability to manage efficient and accountable organisations in increasingly lean times…(guardian.co.uk)
In my view, the latest statistics simply serve to provide further evidence on a previous observation i.e. the grave concerns that I (and many others) have expressed and voiced for some time now; PC Nessie‘s visibility is indeed scarce with little more bite than her new hen’s teeth falsies!
Real and visible policing, although (arguably) expensive, is a service we all crave but rarely see today. That said, I maintain it’s still a service we can actually receive, given the correct skills and capabilities within a reduced level of public sector management.
The real and visible policing demanded by the public requires so much more than hot air media PR and putting a civilian or two in a PCSO uniform, or indeed contracting out public reassurance patrols to a night marshals service.
Any further reductions in Police Officer numbers need to stop now and action must be taken to replace the posts already lost by mostly self-interested mismanagement.
Note: The data refered to by the media was released as supplementary material to the annual Crime in England and Wales report published in July. The report was based on the British Crime Survey of 46,754 residents in households in England and Wales, as well as police-recorded crime.
- Public ‘unaware of police presence’ (mirror.co.uk)
- Survey finds police visibility up (bbc.co.uk)
- Crying over Marshals law: The Ever Extending Police Family (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
- Bean Counting delivers Police Ephemeralization? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)