Falling crime rates does not mean the service is coping with cuts
04 June 2015
“Ministers who point to failing crime rates as evidence that the service is coping are basing this argument on a false premise,” says Federation chair, Steve White in response to the report on ‘financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales’, published today by the National Audit Office. Crime statistics neither take account of all crime – some of which is on the rise – nor do they take account of all the other vital work that officers do which doesn’t fall into bald crime statistics. This includes counter-terrorism, monitoring sex offenders, child protection, policing football matches and much more.
Mr White, also said: “The report highlights a number of realities and key issues that we have been concerned about long before the cuts took hold. Most notably, it reinforces the need for government to work with organisations who know and care about policing.
“Sadly it also rightly states that ‘there are no standards for measuring demand’ and their view is that there is ‘no comprehensive national picture of demand across policing’.
“The disparity of data recording and lack of standardisation across forces does not help and we have long been calling for this to be addressed. Such inconsistencies lead to obvious questions, not least where does it makes sense to cut costs and why?
“Since 2010, immense pressure has been put on the police service to reduce costs quickly. Most significantly for the members we represent, it has severely impacted with the loss of almost 17,000 police colleagues and the same number of support staff.
“More funding reductions are expected and the responsibility lies firmly with the government to work with the practitioners of policing to put the structures in place so that there is a clear national picture of capacity and the demands on the service.
“Public safety must come first at all times – the concerns we continue to raise is not scaremongering - surely the voice of 123,000 police officers adds gravitas to that?”
The full National Audit Report on the ‘financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales’ can be viewed here.
Home Office figures show a reduction of 16, 659 officers since 2010. If officer losses continue at the same rate as last year, by 2016 it will be the equivalent of losing the numbers of officers employed by nine forces at the beginning of the period of austerity, or 18,829 officers between 2010 and 2016. The same equivalent for the total workforce loss over the same period, including police staff, would stand at 42,314, or ten forces by 2016.
A recent report by the College of Policing, estimating demand on the service, found that while numbers of officers have decreased the UK population has increased and there are more demands on police time.
College of Policing demand press release. Demand report. Demand infographic.