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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Chair's Reaction: Further cuts to policing would be “disastrous and damaging”

2 November 2022

Further cuts to policing would be “disastrous and damaging”, the Chair of Avon & Somerset Police Federation has said.

New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has indicated that fighting crime is one of his top priorities, but the autumn budget on 17 November is likely to include public spending cuts.

Avon & Somerset Police Federation Chair Mark Loker said that the police service was already reeling from the previous period of austerity, and that demand outstripped resource.

He said: “We have a new Prime Minister – again – who is going to get tough on crime – again. Words said at a time when a total of 6.5 million crimes were recorded in the 12 months to June 2022, up from the previous peak level of 6.3 million in the year to March 2020. Violent crime is rising, and sexual offences and homicides are rising.

“But at the same time as getting tough on crime, our new PM is going to be making more cuts to public services. It has been reported that many public services would be stripped back to levels not seen since the 2010s if Rishi Sunak goes ahead with his proposals, so what has been given in one hand could now be ripped away by the other.

“We are on track to meet the uplift in Avon & Somerset, which is great news, but this only takes us roughly back to the levels we were at 10 years ago.

“That was before centralised custody units, digital transformations, and changes to the CPS guidance on disclosure. Nationally this has seen victims of crimes withdrawing from active participation due to our officers having to find at least an extra four hours a shift to spend on redacting case material at the pre-charge stage. Add to that more time spent on the computer than actually out on our streets and is there any wonder crime is rising?

“Cops want to catch baddies, it’s what we do. We are the protectors, we are the thin blue line. Policing is an absolute necessity to keep people safe, to protect our communities, but we need to be allowed to do that. We cannot be shackled by cuts in funding from central Government.”

Recruiting more officers was not necessarily the answer, Mark added: “Sadly I do not think that would solve it. Our demand is crippling us. Demand outstrips resource daily. We need to get back to basics more now than ever.

“But it is not the demand of our communities that is overwhelming us, it is the demand caused by austerity. Not having local custody units due to budget cuts, having to do the work of the CPS, and mopping up after under-staffed partner agencies is the reason our demand exceeds our resource.

“Police misconduct is damaging, but that is not the sole reason that confidence in policing has dropped. Demand due to austerity really damages our ability to police and I contend that this is the real reason there is a crisis in confidence.

“Let cops deal with crime and respond to crime, let us be proactive and patrol our streets, not tie one hand behind our back and then wonder why crime is rising and blame the police for not ebbing the rise in crime.

“How about a long-term, sustainable funding deal for policing? How about adding real value to policing and not the threat of any further cuts to an already lean service? Further cuts would be disastrous and damaging. Cuts really do have consequences and it’s about time our Government listened.”