Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tories have axed 410 frontline police officers and since 31 March, many more have gone

New data released by the House of Commons library has revealed the scale of the effects of Government cuts on front line policing. Theresa May repeatedly said that there would be no need for forces to cut back on operational officers, despite the swingeing cuts she has introduced to the forces. The Police Federation warned her that funding cuts would inevitably lead to service cutbacks.

The new figures released show that Lancashire has 410 less frontline police officers than it did before the Conservatives took power, and this is a -13.2% cut in the number of Operational Frontline Police Officers. This is 4.9% higher than the national average reduction in officers (8.3%).

Across the County in September this year there were 14,719 recorded crimes. But in Surrey, which had a criminality count of only 6810 now has 198 more police officers on the beat, a 12.5% increase in full time officers. It begs the question as to why the Government has overseen the reduction of so many officers in Lancashire, an area with a high crime rate, and areas like Surrey are barely feeling the pinch at all. The Government’s policy on policing does not seem to be an evidence-based assessment of where the greatest need for policing is.

It is not just reductions in the full time officers which is the problem, there are indirect consequences to these cuts. Conversations I have had with officers have pointed out to me the fact that policing is being destroyed as a long-term career, or a vocation which one can have alongside a family.

Fewer officers means longer hours for the remaining officers – and how can they get time off in lieu of these long hours if there is simply no one to cover for them? The Police does not operate like a business that can complete work by a given deadline – they are there to respond, to pre-empt and to protect all people all of the time. Tired, demoralised and undervalued officers are not what the public want to see, and it is not in the public interest.

No one should have any confidence in the Tories’ record on policing, it is short-sighted and short-termist.