Strategy does not tackle scale of policing crisis

01 November 2018

Chair John Apter

National Chair John Apter

A new strategy to tackle Serious and Organised Crime goes only a small way in addressing the issues facing crime and criminal activity and in protecting the public.

That was the view of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) who today said while the strategy “appeared to have good intentions” it showed again that a key element of policing was being ignored.

John Apter, National Chair of PFEW, commented: “Serious and organised crime is something which causes misery for many people and it’s important policing evolves and adapts to respond to this ever increasing threat.

“However the ability of those on the front line has been severely diminished with far fewer police officers doing far more every day and we are at crisis point. We cannot be society’s social workers.

“Just last month we heard from the Home Affairs Select Committee that policing needed an urgent injection of funds, and before that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies reported that the decimation of neighbourhood policing severely impacted our ability to tackle terrorism – with fewer police they were no longer able to be the eyes and ears of the community.

“Time and time again we are hearing stories where forces are having to make difficult decisions on what they can deal with and respond to.

“It is of course important to have an overall plan to deal with serious organised crime but however good intentioned that is, it doesn’t deal with the fundamental issue that the police service has been decimated at grass roots level and that is where investment is needed in order to help support new units and deliver what the strategy is setting out.”

The strategy sets out how the Government will build the UK’s defences against serious and organised crime (SOC), track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

According to the National Crime Agency there are around 4,600 serious and organised crime groups in the UK. These criminals use violence and intimidation in communities to operate and they prey on the most vulnerable in society, from victims of modern slavery and human trafficking to young people suffering sexual exploitation and abuse.

The strategy is backed by funding of at least £48m in 2019/20 to further ramp up law enforcement capabilities to specifically tackle illicit finance. However it is unclear where this funding is coming from and it did not appear to be new money.

“This announcement smacks of smoke and mirrors as we appear to be taking money from other of policing areas to invest here – this is robbing Peter to pay Paul,” added Mr Apter.

“We have said before and will repeat our message that simply moving money around from one place to another offers no reassurance that the Government has a real handle on the scale of this issue.

“An holistic review of policing as a whole - and investment in it as a whole and not in pockets here and there - is needed if we are ever to make inroads and reverse this worrying trend.”