12 March 2019
Positive steps have been made to address the issues faced by police amid the knife crime epidemic in a meeting between our National Chair and the Home Secretary.
Yesterday, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, who represents almost 120,000 police officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector, made it clear to Sajid Javid that members are at the forefront of tackling the knife crime issue and their voice must be heard as part of the ongoing discussions on how to tackle this crisis.
Mr Apter stressed overtime is not a long-term solution to provide the resilience needed and there must be increased funding - flagging the detrimental affect it can have on officers’ health and wellbeing down the line.
He also highlighted police officers would always step up in times of crisis, they would work extra hours, have their rest days cancelled and do what was needed, but this was not a sustainable position. The Home Secretary acknowledged this.
According to our latest Demand, Capacity and Welfare survey results, 52.3% of respondents reported they were never or rarely able to take their full rest break entitlement.
Moreover, 66.8% of officers reported having had two or more rest days cancelled in the previous 12-month period, with at least 56,981 cancelled rest days in total.
The offence the Chancellor’s comments caused last week about the police service needing to reprioritise was also raised along with the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept there was a correlation between a drop in police officer numbers and the rise in violent crime.
And Mr Apter hailed stop and search as an “incredibly useful tool”, but explained there must be greater political support publically to give forces the confidence to use these powers.
“I am pleased I was able to voice the concerns of the police officers I represent surrounding this national crisis,” said Mr Apter. “I believe this was a positive meeting and Mr Javid appeared to be understanding towards the pressures that police are currently facing. We made clear it is our members at the forefront of tackling the knife crime issue and he acknowledged this.
“Frontline officers must be able to contribute to the debate to help end this surge in violence. They are the ones dealing with it day in day out and their experience and insight is invaluable.
“We know this cannot be solved overnight, or by the police alone, but we certainly need to be at the heart of any solution."
Last week the National Police Chiefs’ Council requested emergency funding to stem the rising tide of violent crime which would see an increase in operational activity in affected areas.
The NPCC says there has been no update on this.