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Federation: “Home Secretary - we need substance not soundbites when it comes to policing”

31 August 2023

Police must investigate every theft and follow all reasonable leads to catch offenders, the Home Secretary has said.

But Surrey Police Federation has highlighted how colleagues are already overrun and overstretched.

And this headline grabbing announcement will set Police Officers up to fail.

Darren Pemble, Chair of Surrey Police Federation, said: “As many of you will be aware the Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said it’s “completely unacceptable that criminals are often effectively free to break certain laws”.

“The Home Secretary may want officers to do more but how is this possible when officers are already stretched beyond human limits. How much more can officers endure? What is being done to manage the strain for officers managing a growing workload all the while being understaffed?

“It is not fair on our officers to make a broken system work. Why now is there a need to investigate all thefts? The system is broken and if we get out there and attend every call with every enquiry the system will just grind to a halt.”

Darren added: “In diverting police resources to low level crimes, we will further reduce officers from investigating more serious crimes like murder or rape. Do the public want this? Has the Home Secretary asked the public what they want and how the Police may be able to manage this?

“Our officers want to do the best they can for the public but there is a limit to what they can do. It is all very well to offer soundbites about policing but there needs to be some substance behind it.

“Policing is not an endless well of resources so how are we able to resource this headline grabbing announcement. What Policing needs is Government support which will cost them more money, we need more resources and sustained investment in the police service.

“What we need is a Royal Commission on Policing so we can ask the public what it is they want from their police service. We cannot carry on playing politics with Policing. If more pressure keeps being heaped on officers, the situation will only get worse as officers will leave and find other work.

“Do we want this… and can we afford this? We need to look after our officers as we are human beings too, we are not robots as many would think. The Government and Police Forces need to do more to protect our officers, and this includes looking after their wellbeing and managing their workloads.”

Steve Hartshorn, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers were "stretched beyond human limits" and he was not sure how much additional pressure forces could withstand.

He said: "Undoubtedly each and every police officer in the country wants to provide par excellence service to the members of the communities they diligently serve and protect.

"But, unfortunately, headline grabbing announcements by the government will not help officers provide that service. It can only be done if the government provides adequate resources to officers and makes sustained investment in the police service."

The National Police Chiefs’ Council reminded the Home Secretary in an Open Letter that Chief Officers “have operational independence and are responsible for making difficult decisions around how best to respond to the breadth of priorities of local communities.”

It said that the recruitment of 20,000 police officers “has been welcomed by every force across England and Wales.”

Although it added: “The reality is that since 2010, the number of officers has increased by just 2.6%, while recorded crime has increased by 25%.”