Thursday, 25 October 2012
Accrington Observer Column
By cutting police numbers above and beyond what Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has said has had a seriously detrimental impact on the service; we have fewer officers performing the same amount of work. Officers are covering hours, doing overtime for which they are not being rewarded, and having their life-work balance destroyed. I was told by many officers that there is a sense that policing is no longer a family friendly job; this is a great shame for a police force built on being representative and rooted in the community. Police morale is an all time low and it is not the fault of the senior offices in Lancashire who are doing a good job under the strain imposed on them by Government.
Two crucial aspects of Policing are being hit. Neighbourhood policing is being eroded in favour of response units but as Lancashire’s Chief Constable Steve Finnegan has said, ‘not all calls to the Police can expect a response’ – the thin blue line is broken. Secondly, officers told me how vital ASBO’s were to their work. Now that the government has abolished them, the yobs are to quote serving Police officers, ‘laughing at the Police’.
Policing and the Conservatives have come to a head this month with #gategate or #plebgate. It is an absolute disgrace that the Government’s Chief Whip in Parliament, Andrew Mitchell, swore at serving police officers, called them ‘plebs’ and displaying the kind of posh-boy arrogance that obviously rules at the heart of Cameron’s Government. Any yob caught swearing at the Police would quite rightly face a court appearance and a fine of up to £1,000. One rule for the majority, another within Cameron’s government. He should resign - out of respect for the police, instead of clinging on to office. Failing that Cameron should have shown leadership and sacked him. Even Hyndburn Tory leader Peter Britcliffe has stated that Cameron should have sacked his Chief Whip. Cameron is out of touch with the country but his own party faithful.
Next week there will be a vote on a motion about #Plebgate, Andrew Mitchell and respect for the police in the Commons which will give MPs a clear choice – do they support, respect and appreciate the police? Or do they vote to support a man who tells the officers that were protecting him to ‘know their place’. I will be voting in favour of the police – watch closely what the Conservative and Liberal MPs do.