18 August 2021
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton is calling on the Government to commit to a sustained investment in policing so that forces can meet the increased demands being placed on them.
And he has warned that the police service may not be able to react to everything the public expects them to without investment in recruitment and retention of officers and staff.
“Policing is under unprecedented pressure. A decade of cuts at a time when there was no corresponding decrease in demand created a situation where we simply couldn’t do everything asked of us despite our best intentions,” says Tony.
“We welcome the Government’s recruitment drive, through which we are expected to see 20,000 new recruits over a three-year period, but this is simply not enough. We need a sustained investment in policing, not just a boost for three years. And we need to see genuine, meaningful appreciation and support for the jobs our police officers do – enough of empty platitudes from Government ministers. A genuinely independent way to set police pay, free from Government control, would be a positive start.
“Throughout the pandemic, police officers have been right there on the frontline, coping with the all of the usual demands put on them but also struggling to enforce the constantly changing Government guidelines and restrictions to keep people safe and protect the NHS.
“We are the service of first and last resort, the service that never says no and yet, all too often, we are also the service that ends up taking the blame when something goes wrong.”
Tony’s comments come as John Apter, the Federation’s national chair, also reacted to recent events.
John said: “It seems that no matter what happens within society, the finger of blame always leads itself towards policing, before the facts are known.
“The harsh reality is, despite the almost daily information being put out by Government and other agencies about the increase of police officer numbers, that we are still nowhere near where we need to be to react to everything the way the public would expect and the way that we should be able to. This is an inconvenient truth for some.”
He added: “Low numbers and a global pandemic mean that there is more pressure. Pressure on frontline officers, response policing, detectives and pressure on back office functions including departments like firearms licensing.
“The pressure is intolerable and leads to delays that are unavoidable despite our best efforts. This is the reality that policing is facing, while at the same time being held accountable for matters that sit firmly with other agencies.
“Policing is often the service of last resort and we can’t always say no, we can’t close our doors at 5pm on a Friday afternoon.
“We need to increase our numbers, officers and staff, above what is promised by the Government or we will continuously be chasing our tail, never being able to be fully proactive in dealing with the pressures we face.
“The lack of genuine investment in policing is putting the public at risk and that is something that no society should ever accept. My colleagues, officers and staff, are committed to doing everything that we can to keep the public safe, but we need the help to do this.”