Cumbria Police Federation

Federation Chair: What should the police service do? What should it not do…?

25 March 2022

What should the police service do? What should it not do…?

Paul Williams, Chair of Cumbria Police Federation responds to comments from the new head of Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services.

Andy Cooke told MPs this week that up to 40% of officers’ time is taken up on mental health calls.

Mr Cooke – former CC of Merseyside Police - told the Home Affairs Select Committee: “An awful lot of Police Officers' time is taken up looking for children missing from home and absent from care.

“If that's what the public and Parliament want Policing to do, that's fine. But you must bear in mind while they're doing that, they're not doing other things that they should be doing, like detecting crime.

“With the wide scope that Policing has, in my view there needs to be a decision made in relation to what we want from our police service moving forward, and whether other agencies need to step into some parts of that sphere.”

Paul said: “I fully agree with Andy Cooke’s findings and his very accurate observations are refreshing to see. We have been covering for shortfalls of other agencies for a long time.

“40% of an officers’ time dealing with mental health is a huge number and also as mentioned absent from care and missing from home also stretches our resources to a huge degree. This cannot be allowed to continue under the current model of policing.

“All agencies have suffered financial cuts and staffing issues but Policing also suffered this, yet has for a long time had to pick up the pieces and take on work that really should not be in a policing remit.

“As has been stated, if that’s what the public and Government want us to do then then the whole structure and model of policing needs to be rebuilt.

“If we’re expected to focus on crime then we need to be left alone to focus on crime. Current systems in place just aren’t working and when great amounts of resources are taken away to deal with the issues we’ve mentioned, the focus is taken away from law and order and this is dangerous.”