8 November 2018
The national chair of the Police Federation has slammed the Government for allowing policing to get into a critical condition and says it is a national scandal.
John Apter’s criticism came as another Parliamentary committee published what he calls a ‘damning indictment’ of the way in which the Home Office manages forces’ finances.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concludes public confidence has been ‘severely dented’ as the police service has been forced to re-prioritise work in response to funding cuts.
The report, issued yesterday, argues the Home Office does not understand the demands being faced by the police service and calls for an urgent overhaul of the funding formula – the way the Government determines how much police forces receive from central government is calculated.
“This report is the latest in a long series of huge red flags for the Government. This is now a critical situation and a national scandal. And they can’t say they weren’t warned,” says John.
“Dedicated police officers are at breaking point and are overwhelmed by the ever-increasing demands being heaped on them as a result of eight years of austerity.”
And he asks: “What will it take for the Government to take its head out of the sand and do something about it?” he continued.
Dave Stokes, chair of Leicestershire Police Federation, has also questioned the Government's stance.
"Public confidence is being affected and sometimes people make the assumption that police forces and their officers don’t care anymore," he explained.
"The truth is our officers are as dedicated as ever which is why some are breaking, trying to do the best they can with the numbers we have. The Government should take responsibility and own up to the fact that its public sector cuts are affecting what chief officers can realistically do with budgets as they are."
The conclusions of the PAC report mirror closely the findings of those of the National Audit Office which in September said the Home Office had no systematic approach to ensuring forces are financially sustainable.
It also comes just weeks after the influential Home Affairs Select Committee warned the Home Office lacked a clear picture of the funding levels needed to maintain the essential policing service that the public has a right to expect.
Only last week, Chief Constable Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, sparked a debate about forces needing to ‘re-focus on core policing’ because of limited resources.
The national chair concluded: “My members and the communities they serve are suffering as a result of inaction and the Government must invest immediately if further damage to our police service is to be prevented.
“The fact that policing has been allowed to get to this desperate situation is a dereliction of the Government’s duty and unforgivable.”