David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

David J. Farley of Plympton, Plymouth, United Kingdom

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Police Federation: Cuts Could Endanger Officers

The chairman of the Police Federation’s Constables Central Committee has warned ministers of severe knock-on effects with personnel if Forces cut staffing levels to the bone.

In a speech promoting the Federation’s Real Policing Pledge in London, PC Paul Lewis stressed that assaults on police, increased sickness levels and a far less flexible service to the public are likely outcomes should the front line be hit.

And he warned both chief officers and politicians that they risked a serious situation if they did not consider the bigger picture when deciding where cuts should fall.

PC Lewis added: “Looking ahead we know that money is tight – very tight.

“But we would also warn the government against acting in haste – they may find that if they act in haste, then they will be repenting at their leisure.”

While accepting that politicians had difficult decisions to make, PC Lewis said a joint report by HMIC and the Audit Commission published this week had identified that £1 billion of funding could be made without harming service.

The report had suggested that more collaboration, shared procurement and a reduction in back room costs could make the savings – but also warned that cuts of more than 12per cent would impact on the sharp end of policing.

But PC Lewis said it was “infuriating” that commentators failed to focus on these practicalities and insisted instead on talking about cuts to officer numbers.

He added: “More infuriating is when Chief Officers’ jump to this all too easy solution for fear that looking at other moves to make savings should prove too difficult.

“We know that with 80 per cent of the police budget going on staff costs there is a temptation for the axe to fall on personnel. But in past years officer sickness records have improved and any decline in numbers is likely to see rates increase again.

“The level of assaults on police is still high – it is a difficult and demanding job that we do. That is why we must ensure we have sufficient police officers, with the appropriate safety equipment and training not only to protect the public but to protect and support each other.”

PC Lewis said that the Federation needed to work with politicians as well other organisations such as ACPO and the Superintendents’ Association to ensure that any financial decisions did not have a detrimental impact on the public.

He concluded: “It is all very well saying that we need to do more for less, but should that equate to more work with less officers, the strain on those at the sharp end will be immense.”

Article courtesy of www.policeoracle.com

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Police Recruits "Should work for free"

At first sight I thought this must be a joke from April Fool's Day. However, it is a deadly serious prospect as you will gather from reading on. Thank God I am retired. I would never be recruited today!

Chief Constables are planning to introduce a national scheme that would see people wanting to become police officers working for free before they can join the force.

The move is part of their response to the large budget cuts they will have to make as part of the government's slashing of public spending.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has asked the National Policing Improvement Agency for guidance on a scheme to be introduced across all 43 forces, senior sources have confirmed.

Critics say it means policing on the cheap and could deter recruits from poorer backgrounds. Police chiefs believe it could save £40m-£50m.

ACPO held its annual conference last week in Manchester, where police chiefs discussed in public and private how to maintain their ability to fight crime while coping with the biggest budget cuts in recent history. Police chiefs believe they can build support for the changes, and bypass or neutralise opposition from within the service, by selling it as a move towards greater professionalism.

They will also argue that it puts aspiring police officers on the same footing as other public sector professions, such as nurses, who are expected to fund their training themselves unless they can win a bursary.

Three models for a national scheme are being studied. One is operated by Lancashire police, in which those wanting to join the force first have to attend a university offering a two-year course. This teaches recruits law and policing in diverse communities. During the course, students work as special constables. Only after completing it can they apply to become full police constables.

Lancashire accepts the scheme has helped cut its training costs. There is no guarantee of a job at the end of it.

Scotland Yard is proposing to introduce a scheme that was passed by its watchdog last week. Potential recruits would have to work for up to a year as special constables before being allowed to apply to Britain's largest force.

The third model is that operated by Surrey police, which sees recruits pay £700 for training. Mark Rowley, Chief Constable of Surrey police, said it does more than save money: "We are getting better recruits, because they have committed their own time to learning and progressing further their career in the police."

Rowley said the scheme means once people join his force they have "better practical skills than before".

Simon Reed, vice-chair of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "We're not convinced. We may find the cost of it deters people from ethnic minorities and from working-class backgrounds, people we want to see joining. It is putting another barrier in their way. We hope they will not replace police officers with specials."

He said people from the armed forces are not allowed to serve as special constables, so they could in effect be barred from joining the police. Reed added that some police forces were not recruiting, meaning people who work for free or pay for training courses could end up having wasted their time and money.

In London, Labour is opposing the Metropolitan police scheme. Joanne McCartney, a Labour member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "If the Met can get this through, then other forces will follow suit. It's unfair and will disadvantage anyone with caring responsibilities, anyone already in work, and anyone who can't afford to work unpaid for a year or more.

"We know this is a financially driven decision and not one taken in the best long-term interests of the Met. Specials are an invaluable asset, but they are an addition to full-time officers. They do not offer the same resilience as they can't be compelled to work, and nor should they."

The Policing Minister, Nick Herbert, spent three days – an unusually large time for someone in government – at the ACPO Conference. He told the Guardian that money could also be saved by buying items centrally, such as information technology systems.

Herbert said the days of 43 forces in England and Wales doing their own thing, regardless of cost, were over. "There have been 43 fiefdoms and when money was around that could go on. Money is much tighter and we cannot be relaxed about inefficiency."

Article courtesy of www.policeoracle.com