11 July 2023
Derbyshire Police Federation has warned it could take many years to repair the damage caused by more than a decade of cuts and chronic underfunding.
Branch chair Tony Wetton spoke out after a report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) into police performance found the public was too often failed at the first point of contact with long call delays.
Tony said: “When austerity measures were introduced 13 years ago the Police Federation told the Government that cuts have consequences.
“Our views were ignored and our concerns were dismissed as scaremongering but it is clear that funding cuts have had a huge impact on policing and the relationship we have with the public.
“The recent Police Uplift Programme has brought officer numbers back to 2010 levels but there is still much work to do training our new recruits and finding replacements for the experienced men and women we have lost over the years.
“It will take many years for the police service to recover from the impact of cuts and under resourcing.
“We need to see long-term, sustained investment to make sure our police services and officers are fit for the demands of modern policing and meet the needs of the public.”
Tony said the vast majority of officers performed with professionalism, dedication and courage but often felt undervalued.
“I think years of real-terms pay cuts have left many of our members feeling betrayed by the Government, especially when you take into account the sacrifices we expect them and their families to make,” he said.
“It is a difficult, challenging job and police officers deserve to be properly recognised and rewarded for the work they do.”
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report on police performance brings together significant findings from the 2021/22 police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy (PEEL) inspection programme.
The report highlighted police forces’ progress in recording crime, increasing from an estimated 80.5 per cent of all crime being recorded (excluding fraud) in 2014 to 92.4 per cent at the end of 2021/2022 inspections.
· Too many forces make decisions based on poor data or insufficient analysis of data;
· Forces too often have knee jerk reactions to long term problems and don’t work proactively enough to prevent issues arising in the first place;
· First-line supervisors are critical to improving performance and developing the right culture in forces, but they are not getting the investment and support they need;
· The public is too often being failed at the first point of contact, with long call delays, in particular non-emergency 101 calls; and
· The workforce is increasingly under-resourced and under-skilled, with forces not doing enough to understand why such a large proportion of its workforce are leaving and having any plans in place to tackle it.
Andy Cooke, His Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said: “We found a wealth of examples where police forces are performing well. Forces must learn from each other and should consider if the positive practice described in this report can be applied in their own area.
“But the public are still being let down too often by policing, and there are several improvements that forces need to make. One of the first things forces need to do is to get better at understanding and managing their own performance. Without this, forces cannot aspire to provide the high level of service that the public deserves.
“The public’s trust and confidence in the police are at an all-time low, so it is vital that forces take heed of our findings and work quickly to rectify the issues highlighted.”
Tiff Lynch, deputy chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said: “There is a common thread throughout this report that links the red flags PFEW have been highlighting repeatedly – a severe lack of funding leaving police forces up and down England and Wales struggling with demand, and officer levels. This is further leading forces to use outdated, cumbersome, and poorly understood systems and processes.
“If our members are to give the public the service they deserve, then long-term, sustained investment in policing must be the Government’s top priority.
“Only proper investment in the service will allow all the service to implement the procedures and training that are vital to improving policing and regaining public confidence and trust
“This report rightly adds more pressure on the Government to take urgent action, invest in policing, improve police pay and officer morale, and restore policing to the respected and trusted public service it should be.”