As the nation gears up for the General Election in May, Royston Martis of www.policeoracle.com, examines how those in policing are increasingly speaking out about the devastating impact cuts are having.
You cannot cut £2.5 billion from the policing budget in England and Wales – as has happened during this Parliament - without there being consequences.
The main consequence to date has been a huge fall in police numbers. In March 2010, there were 244,497 people working in policing. There are now 209,362, down more than 35,135.
As we know, there are 16,000 fewer police officers.
Another consequence has been the detrimental changes to police officer pay and conditions for those that have remained in the job.
As we start a General Election year - what is next when it comes to policing?
Just before Christmas, we heard that the policing budget was going to be slashed by another £300 million in 2015/16 with the promise of more cuts to come.
With predictions from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary that the service will have to save the same again – so another £2.5 billion – between now and 2019 there is going to be much more pain.
This time the public – as well as police officers – will feel it.
Will police officers be able to deal with mental health issues? Cyber-crime and reports of child sexual exploitation? Human trafficking?
The list could go on.
Representatives from the Police Federation of England and Wales across the country have long been trying to get this message across.
The efforts of Essex Police Federation and their #CutsHaveConsequences campaign – of which I must declare an interest – will hopefully make a difference and raise public awareness of the devastating cuts to policing.
Helping this will be the fact chief officers have now vocally joined the debate.
ACPO has estimated that 34,000 police jobs will disappear over the next three years. “The deepest cuts to policing I have ever known,” said Sir Hugh Orde, outgoing president of the organisation.
Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe wrote in the Guardian: “There’s a bigger risk to public safety if we don’t take radical action.
“We’ve saved hundreds of millions already, but from 2016 onwards it will be much harder.”
Lynne Owens, Chief Constable of Surrey Police, also added her voice to the growing chorus by questioning what functions policing would have to abandon with continuing cuts in an interview with a national newspaper.
"It’s inevitable that cuts will have operational consequences,” she said.
Sadly, as has often been stated, the current government has long displayed no desire to listen to policing professionals. But MPs of all colours will listen to the public.
Particularly in a General Election year when they are relying on people to vote for them.
Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld said: “The public is not being asked whether policing should be run down to the dangerous level that is currently planned. It is high time it was.”
Let’s hope the public start listening - and then let politicians of all parties know how they feel on policing.
And that they all realise that cuts have consequences.
Article courtesy of Royston Martis - www.policeoracle.com