The influential and well-informed Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) this week published their `Policing for the Future` report which highlighted the crisis facing the Police service and the dire consequences for the public if additional funding is not forthcoming. The report provided many facts and irrefutable evidence, that this government have plunged the Police service into a crisis which it may never recover from, if their budgetary policy and funding approach is not comprehensively reversed. The one phrase that struck home to me and should concern every member of society was that policing could become an irrelevance unless the government act quickly to provide much needed finance.
Its not just about money though surely? The Police service should use their resources better, there are now more Police officers per head of the population than there were in the 60`s and you have much better technology now so it`s a lot easier to detect crime – these are just some of the allegedly informed responses to the call for additional money. All suggested by people with little or no actual understanding or experience of the crisis that is currently faced by Policing.
To ignore the HASC report and refuse to increase funding in Policing would be foolhardy, ignorant, idiotic and demonstrate the incompetence of the current government to protect and safeguard the very people that elected them to govern. People want to be healthy and safe in their homes and workplaces, those are the two main priorities in most peoples lives. There is likely to be a welcomed increase in spending for the NHS which is fully justified and deserved, yet once again, policing seems to be the `Oliver` of the emergency services by asking for more and being consciously refused.
Police officers do not join to become rich or earn bonuses or rewards for doing their job. I had the honour and privilege of working alongside some very brave men and women who were completely dedicated and committed to doing their job. They just want support and recognition of the role they play in keeping people safe and protected plus the ability to go out and prevent crime and catch those who commit crime. That ability is largely governed and dictated by finances, how many officers are available for emergency calls, how many vehicles you have, what technology you can use and how much you can spend on policing the community. It’s a very simple set of objectives really and hasn’t changed much since they were first announced in 1829 and on every single day Police officers risk their own safety and well-being to carry out those aims.
There was a much-used phrase during my Police career of `lions led by donkeys` to describe the thoughts of the operational front-line officers about some of those who sat on management teams, (now called leadership teams because that makes a difference!) and the quality of their decision making. It epitomised the courage and bravery of those dealing with incidents and calls to the Police service compared to those who talked about what should and could be done whilst sat in the comfort of their offices. This phrase can now be applied to those currently in government and epitomised by their approach to the health service, prison service, justice system and policing but also in the last two years their mismanagement of the whole Brexit fiasco. The level of incompetence being demonstrated by the current government has reached epic proportions across all walks of life, but it impacts on most people in respect of their health and their safety.
Policing urgently needs additional income to recruit and therefore pay more officers to provide greater protection for the public. It is as simple as that – you get less from less and policing isn’t just about dealing with crime, that was just one of the many mistakes the government made in their approach to assessing money for the police. In recent weeks the Home office have been accused of being `ignorant` of the strain on the Police service as a result of the loss of 45,000 jobs. That figure doesn’t just cover actual police officer posts but also the support staff, if you remove a case file clerk or call handler then a police officer inevitably must take on some or all of that role.
History may well judge Mrs May and her government on key issues like Brexit and Immigration but the public and more importantly the families who lose loved ones to the knife crime epidemic will judge them on a far more personal basis. The loss of neighbourhood police teams and the trust and information that inevitably comes from knowing and seeing your local officer has been a key factor in the rise in violent crime. The fact that pro-active policing is becoming virtually non-existent aside from some specialist units, is another reason why crime is rising, and many young people frequently carry weapons as they have no fear of being detected.
The Chancellor announces his budget next week and I sincerely hope that he is spending the next few days rewriting his speech, having read the report and listened to the wise words from the Home Affairs Select Committee. Blind refusal to act on those recommendations will just reinforce the widely held belief that this continual attack on Policing is a personal issue being led and maintained by Mrs May and some members of her party. A party of law and order would ensure the Police service had the support and finances to provide those very aspects that the electorate demand of their government.
Policing is not and should never be a political football or used for point scoring by people wishing to canvass your vote. The current government should remember they are only temporary custodians of power but the effect of their decisions and policies can have lasting impact on many families affected by violent crime. Policing has been in crisis for years and unless urgent additional funds are provided then the UK policing model, of which most of us are rightly proud, will be lost for ever and it will have been caused solely by this governments attitude to the service.
That is some epitaph to have on your time in government – the decimation of the UK Police service, arguably the finest in the world.