Policing is in intensive care

16 May 2017

PFEW Chair Steve White

PFEW Chair Steve White

That’s the message being laid down to a future government by the Police Federation of England and Wales at their annual conference, which begins in Birmingham today.

“If change isn’t imminent, the public can expect both a less experienced workforce, as officers reach the end of their tether and choose to leave, and one that can no longer do all that is asked of it," says Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation.

Under the theme ‘Protecting the Protectors’, conference sessions will outline the wide-ranging protection and support issues that officers currently face, and what is being done to address these. It will also explore the need for a change in approach, funding and legislation to protect those charged with protecting the public.

The latest workforce figures, released in January, show more than 2,700 officers left the service in a 12 month period (year ending 30 September 2016), the largest drop for the past three years.

Recent crime statistics have shown a continuing increase in recorded crime (9% to the year ending December 2016), while a recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) stated that police cannot realistically be expected to meet every possible demand made of them.

Mr White said: “The tide has turned and we’re behind the wave, through little fault of our own.

“Every day officers work tirelessly to stem the flow, but as the ‘go to’ service for those in need, at a time when partner agencies are struggling to provide the specialist services required, it’s the police plugging the gaps.”

Further calls will be made to better protect those assaulted in the course of their duties; those who volunteer to carry firearms; and for those engaged in police response and pursuit driving.

“Too often those running towards danger are unfairly punished for their efforts, whether physically or disciplinary. Officers assaulted, but offenders facing no extra punishment. Firearms officers who pull the trigger being treated as guilty from the outset. Those involved in pursuits being dragged through the courts despite the specialist driving training they receive,” Mr White said.

Work being done in the areas of discipline, performance and improving overall officer welfare will also be subjects of debate, with new findings being announced from the Federation’s demand, capacity and welfare survey.

Mr White added: “We are a police service envied the world over. Without question, the Government of the day must invest to keep it that way. We’re not close to breaking point, we’re at breaking point.”