New government 'must protect policing'

08 May 2015

The thin policing blue line is in danger of being extinguished altogether unless the new government changes course on cuts, the Police Federation has warned.

Steve White, chair, Police Federation of England and Wales, warned the new government that policing is 'on its knees' and cannot take any more cuts.

Since 2010, the police service has lost 17,000 officers and a further 17,000 police staff, equivalent to nine entire police forces.

Mr White warned: ‘The first job of any government is to protect its citizens. The government's funding cuts since 2010 have put the ability of the police service to do this in severe jeopardy. I urge that the new government recognise one thing - policing is on its knees and simply cannot take any more cuts.

‘Cuts have consequences. The political parties all hid from that fact during the election campaign but there is only so long they can go on with their fingers in their ears pretending the country isn’t about to be engulfed by an unprecedented crisis in policing. They only need to look at the recent rise in crime figures, showing an increase in violent and sexual crime, to see that.

‘The public deserves a fully functioning police service that is capable of protecting the public. Cutting the number of police officers available is a surefire way of fundamentally damaging forces’ ability to do that job.'

He added: 'We have lost 17,000 officers and 17,000 staff numbers - put another way, that means we have lost the equivalent of nine entire forces. Despite the massive efforts of officers to shore the service up, the thin blue line is on the verge of being extinguished altogether with the consequent danger to the public we serve.

'And not only that but those officers trying their best to hold the service together have not been rewarded for their efforts; instead, they have had their pay and conditions savaged by the government. This simply cannot go on.'

Official crime statistics released last month for the year ending December 2014 showed a two per cent increase in police recorded crime rates across England and Wales - including a 21 per cent increase in violent crime and 32 per cent increase in sexual crime. The Crime Survey of England and Wales, which uses statistics gathered from interviews with the public about their experience of crime, showed a seven per cent fall in crime-related incidents.

Mr White said: ‘The official crime statistics have now started to rise – proving what we have been saying for years, that cutting officers will ultimately damage the public. The government is letting victims down - officers are doing their level best but there simply aren’t enough of them to go round.

‘Policing is much more than just crime stats - counter-terrorism; work to tackle child sexual exploitation; managing sex offenders in the community; policing of football matches; policing drunks in town centres on Friday and Saturday nights is not measured. Would the public ever forgive the next government should the service find itself unable to fulfil these basic duties because they don't have the money to do so?

'Officers will do whatever they can and more to ensure the public are protected but if the service has to endure more cuts this will soon become impossible. It is vital that the government takes these warnings seriously.'