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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Strategic Review of Policing: I would call on any review of policing to allow us to concentrate on what the Public expects from us

24 February 2022

“I would call on any review of policing to allow us to concentrate on what the Public expects from us,” Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair Mark Loker has said ahead of the publication of an independent review into policing.

Sir Michael Barber is leading a Strategic Review of Policing, which will make more than 50 recommendations for the future of forces in England and Wales.

Ahead of its publication, Sir Michael said this week: "Too often our police are effectively a social service dealing more with mental health and family breakdown than fighting crime.”

He added that there “aren’t enough police”, they “haven’t got the best technology” and they face an “organisational challenge” with crimes like fraud needing to be “strategically addressed from the centre” while forces around the country tackle local offending.

Mark said: “It’s refreshing that Sir. Michael has recognised what we have been saying for far too long, he is absolutely right in what he says, Conservative cuts to policing have had and continue to have dire consequences.

“Policing is stretched to the point of breaking beyond repair and what that statement does not consider is that it is our members who are stretched to the point of breaking beyond repair.

“Policing is always described as an institution or ‘machine’ but what is always ignored is that Policing is made up of Police Officers, who are humans, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and suffer the same as any other person. So when politicians are quick to commit that there is a crisis in policing, that is an egregious lack of respect and consideration and we contend that more should be done to highlight that it is Police Officers who are in crisis.

“We are attending more and more incidents of missing persons and people in mental health crisis and we are simply not equipped to deal with these incidents, no amount of technology will affect this. Since when did the Police become the service of last resort, how has this been allowed to happen?

“I would call on any review of policing to allow us to concentrate on what the Public expects from us. Police Officers are not social workers and Police Services cannot and should not be the social service of last resort. Has any one stopped to consider that this perceived lack in confidence is due to politicians meddling in policing and not allowing us to concentrate on what the Public rightly expects from us.”

Mark added: “We completely understand why the public could be losing confidence in Policing, but that is directly correlated to the fact that we are constantly dealing with matters that are not policing matters or policing priorities.

“The Public want the police to prevent and detect crime, to respond to burglaries and crime, to prevent damage to property and person, we simply do not have enough bobbies to do it all, yet we are still expected to and whilst we try to do it all there is never the courage in leadership to say ‘No’ and until that time comes we will get it wrong.

“I am constantly told that we detain people in mental health crisis, take them to a place of safety such as hospitals or bespoke mental health centres, for them to be then allowed to leave and the police are then called to find them and return them again, it’s a perpetual circle with no control and the Police are expected to cope?

“It is not good enough for Kit Malthouse to describe a “tumultuous phase” for the police over the past year, this has been 10 years in the making, when it was his Government that decimated the service through reduction in funding and reduction in officer numbers and resources.

“Cuts do have consequences, sadly real life consequences and we are seeing those consequences loud and clear and that is at the detriment of our cops and the service our communities expect from us, policing is in crisis because police officers are in crisis.

“We would expect more than words from our leadership and politicians. Our members come to work every day to do the very best they can for the communities they serve, they have been rewarded with pay cuts, pay freezes, constant criticism and condemnation and enough is enough. Actions speak louder than words Mr Malthouse.”