Short sighted politicians ‘not helping policing’ - full text of Steve White’s letter published in today’s Times

12 January 2015

Dear Sir

I was puzzled and disappointed to read in Jenni Russell’s comment article ‘Outdated police are swamped by cybercrime’ that the Police Federation is hampering the recruitment of ’20-something computer geeks’ as police constables because we are ‘far more interested in preserving existing jobs’.

Puzzled because of all the national police bodies it is only the Police Federation of England and Wales that has consistently called for the service to adapt better to the modern world.

And why wouldn’t we? It is our members that have to deal with the devastating effect of crime on victims. It is our members that can spend months bringing to justice those responsible. It is they, and we, who have done the most to push for the service to modernise.

Ms Russell raises many issues facing the service but the solutions elude her.

• Is the fall in reported crime down to less crime taking place or because the public know police resources aren’t there to deal with it?
• If police officers focus their efforts on cybercrime instead of ‘offline’ crime, what should they tell victims who ring in to report burglary, robbery and rape?
• Do businesses not report online fraud because they think police will do nothing or because they do not want to admit to their own failings?
• Is it the £19,000 starting salary that does the most to put 20-something computer geeks off joining the police?

I am disappointed by the article because the Police Federation has been banging the drum for many years about the same issues as Sir Tom Winsor, HM chief inspector of constabulary, including the importance of crime prevention and outdated police IT infrastructure.

The fact these are still live issues is ultimately down to successive governments who have taken a short term view of policing more focused on the electoral cycle than what our members know works.

Steve White
Chairman
Police Federation of England and Wales