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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Chairman’s Blog: Watching Panorama filled me with hope, sorrow, sadness and frustration at the position our Police Forces are in

29 March 2022

Chairman’s Blog: Watching Panorama last night filled me with hope, sorrow, sadness and frustration at the position our Police Forces find themselves in and in turn the effect this has on victims of crime.

Mark Loker said: “I know and can say with absolute certainty that no one joins the Police other than to help people, to do the right thing and to protect the vulnerable and to bring justice for victims. Sometimes a minority do terrible things which effects the reputation and standing of the Police force, but they are individual and not indicative of the brave colleagues I represent day in and day out.
“What filled me with the most sorrow was watching and seeing that less than 2% of victims would report to the Police because they do not have confidence in the Criminal Justice system and hearing the Frustration of Detectives who are asking for charging decisions from the CPS for them to say ‘No’ on technicalities. It literally breaks my heart.
“All my colleagues want to do is their jobs, they want to protect and serve with merit and outcome, but things have to change. The recent survey of Detectives, not only shows how the Bureaucracy effects complex investigations, but it effects Cops on response, neighbourhoods and across all the areas of policing.
“The CPS now demand trial ready files for charging decisions, but due to the complexity of disclosure it can take weeks just to redact cctv and body worn footage, evidence crucial to securing conviction, but what that means is that our cops are then tied to a screen for often weeks and not available to respond to reports of crime or patrol proactively. This is not just effecting Detectives, it effects every Police Officer.
“My colleagues are deeply frustrated with the Attorney Generals changes and the negative impact that implementing the guidance has on them. Morale is increasingly low because they are being tied down with bureaucracy, rather than being able to get on with their jobs.
“These changes have meant colleagues are unfairly being asked to jump through hoops. But where is the need for trial-ready files, particularly when individuals plead guilty? This is unnecessary bureaucracy. Imagine putting hundreds of hours into a evidence file that would be trial ready for the CPS to simply say No to charging an offender. Imagine then having to tell that victim, sorry we can do no more and then imagine the effect that has on that victim.
“No one condemns or criticises the CPS or the Judiciary, but unfairly the blame falls to the Police. Quality of evidence is key, no one disagrees with that, but this is again just examples of the Police not being able to say ‘No’, Police Leaders not having the courage to stand up to other departments within criminal justice and saying ‘No’.
“We, the Police investigate, gather and present the evidence, but we are having demands placed on us due to failures of partner agencies and then damned for their failures. Enough is enough. Speaking to our public, they want their Police to be a Force, to be on their streets in their communities, protecting them and helping them feel safe, not stuck behind desks.
“In the recent survey of nearly 6300 detectives, it’s clear that workloads have increased massively and the system is on the point of collapse. There’s also an increasing number of dedicated detectives who want to leave due to the pressure caused by this present system and I can tell you that it will be impossible to replace this experience once it is lost.
“A young Officer I spoke to recently desperately wanted to be a detective and he decided to apply and was successful in becoming a Police Staff Investigator and not warranted Constable. Equally capable, but not because he does want to go through a 3 year degree based training program, he simply sees the effect this has on Constable and decided he did not want to be a Cop because Cops cannot say ‘No’.
“The changes the CPS have imposed on Policing is breaking Policing, they are impacting on police officers in all roles and not just detectives. Without the Police the CPS cannot function and we urgently need the CPS to review their guidance and continue to work alongside PFEW and the NPCC to reconsider the full impact of the changes.
“Avon and Somerset look to have 435 Detectives by 2024, currently we have 380, which is 87% of our full establishment. Out of those numbers only 31% are accredited to deal with serious and complex crime and sexual offences. With the CPS only charging only 1 in 4 cases and the negative impact this has on victims of crime I would urge the Attorney General to urgently review the effectiveness of the CPS, not burden the Police further due to the inadequacies of the CPS.”
AVON AND SOMERSET DETECTIVE SURVEY FINDINGS:
• 100% reported that the changes had increased the number of hours they spend on pre charge file preparation.
• 84% reported that the changes had increased how stressful their job had become.
• 78% said their overall job satisfaction had decreased.
• 76% said that the changes had decreased the time they could actively spend investigating live cases.
• 66% indicated that the recent changes had increased their intention to leave their role as a detective.

• 45 per cent indicated the number of victims that have withdrawn from active participation with their investigation has increased due to the changes