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Wiltshire Police Federation

ANGUS MACPHERSON: Extra police officers promised by Boris Johnson are not a quick fix

17 August 2019

Swindon Advertiser 

Quite often at the moment I find myself being asked by the public and the media about the 20,000 police officers promised by prime minister Boris Johnson and what it means for Wiltshire.

It is not particularly clear at this stage and I don’t know how many more officers we will receive funding for in Wiltshire or even if they will all be warranted officers.

I say this because it is important that police staff roles are also optimised to keep our communities safe, support victims and secure convictions.

Part of this is about ensuring that the right people with the necessary powers are doing the right job and sometimes that will be a police officer and sometimes it will be a civilian member of staff.

For example, we have a number of Local Crime Investigators who work in our community policing teams alongside police officers and police community support officers.

A warrant isn’t necessary to investigate crime and these roles help to keep officers focussed on the jobs that do require a warrant like arresting people.

Policing has changed a substantial amount from the ‘good old days’ of there being a bobby in every village.

There is a lot more hidden harm and crime within society, including domestic abuse, cyber-crime and modern slavery. An officer on the beat simply might not have enough of an impact on these types of crime to prevent them.

Of course, there is a role for proactive patrols when it comes to prevention and community engagement but we must also look at the bigger picture and recognise that most crime now happens behind closed doors or online.

I am cautiously hopeful that we will see our fair share from the 20,000 promise in Wiltshire, but it certainly isn’t a quick fix to the modern challenges facing our force.

It takes a significant period of time to recruit the right people, carry out security vetting and train them to a high standard, and the volume promised by the prime minister will be the largest police recruitment in decades.

Other considerations also need to be taken into account such as the additional funding for the training, human resources and recruitment, ensuring we have enough vehicles etc and the list goes on.

I know that planning is currently underway and I expect the Chief Constable and I will receive more detail soon on what our share will be and how the commitment will be delivered, but I am very pleased that the Government is putting a renewed focus on policing.

I have been campaigning for fairer funding for Wiltshire Police for a number of years now and I’m pleased to see that local concerns are now being listened to. This month two of our county’s seven MPs, Michelle Donelan and Robert Buckland will have joined our officers, staff and volunteers to see the reality of the challenges facing the frontline and I hope that they continue to advocate for our force in the House of Commons.