Lies, Damned Lies and Protected Police Budgets

Been a while since my last blog but this nonsense from Theresa May and her government about `protected Police budgets` prompted me to write again.

She is lying, her ministers who repeat it are lying and so is any national newspaper that repeats it. Now I could just leave it there, but the truth of the matter is that once again the PM and her ministers are being very very economical with the actual truth and facts.

Police budgets have been systematically cut every year since the Conservatives regained power and at Prime Ministers questions last Wednesday, she was challenged again and repeated her default lie. For once Jeremy Corbyn was well briefed and restricted himself to just asking specific questions, I am guessing Louise Haigh and/or Holly Lynch might have assisted him as the numbers were accurate. Tends to suggest the shadow home secretary was not involved when you consider her previous statements about police budgets and numbers!

The truth of the matter is that if you have a particularly biased view then you could state Police budgets have been `protected` but that does not explain the true picture or the facts of the matter. What Mrs May actually means is that having cut Police budgets to an extent where preventing crime and protecting the public has been put at real risk, then she is not going to cut them anymore – hence the budgets are being protected unlike the public or Police officers.

Policing stopped being pro active a few years ago, almost the same time Mrs May became Home secretary, and gradually over the last few years they have moved more towards being a reactive service. Crimes may be reported and many are not investigated, lack of resources and time are often quoted and whichever cause is given they are all due to the same reasons – lack of funding and available resources. Police officers these days rarely patrol looking to prevent and detect crime, they are constantly racing from one emergency call to the next and frequently picking up the slack from other public-sector services. Police vehicles are turned into pseudo ambulances as there is a shortage of those emergency vehicles, police resources are tied up searching for patients reported missing as people often give up waiting in A & E and just leave. The hospital report them missing so the police have to start enquiries to trace and locate the absent patient because of a `duty of care`. That’s without considering the huge impact the increase in mental health related calls has had on Policing. Many officers can now go a whole shift or even a few days at work without ever dealing with an actual crime related call. Yet Mrs May originally based her funding and budget argument on policing on the fact that crime was down therefore as Police officers are `just crimefighters` then we need fewer officers. How naïve, misguided and downright dangerous that approach is proving to be and without true foundation.

In recent weeks there has been a public outcry about paroling a prolific rapist and this raised the issue of the probation service being privatised. It would appear the government have spent £340 million pounds in funding the private firms who have been permitted to take over the probation work for what are deemed `low risk` offenders. Virtually on the same day that was reported, it was announced that the government had refused to fully fund the police fight against terrorism by only providing 50% of the requested funds. The National Police chiefs had asked for £104 million – a third of the money spent by the government bailing out the private sector probation firms.

I would love to be able to offer a solution to the Police budget issue, but it is looking increasingly like that would require a new leader of the Conservative party with a more realistic and sensible view of Policing. In my view she has lasted this long because such an individual is not readily identifiable even to those from within the party, I am sure some Conservatives realise the problem exists, yet they have no answer to the conundrum. General election then? That presents the same problem or lack of a solution, I do not think Mr Corbyn is the right person to lead the country and his current shadow home secretary lacks the understanding or ability to change things for the better.

For the public and Police service that means increased crime, more violent offences and greater risk whilst the current government bail out their associates in private companies who have been given public sector contracts. We need strong and stable leadership from National Police Chiefs and Police and Crime Commissioners, by publicly announcing the truth and facts about the impact the cuts in their budgets is really having. No more lies or half-truths by individuals looking to further their own careers or receive some form of official honour or recognition and serve the public as opposed to their own particular political master or party.

The same lie about protecting budgets needs to be challenged and addressed by those in authority in Policing every time it is repeated by the PM or her ministers. They are protecting nothing and putting the public and the Police service at risk but maybe that’s their end game, so they can justify privatisation of many Police related services. You can possibly add the NHS and Fire service to this objective as Public sector services continue to be reduced in favour of bailing out privatisation initiatives and International development……………Coffee anyone?