8 June 2018
NEARLY all police forces in England and Wales are failing to adequately protect the public, say officers. A staggering 97 per cent of those surveyed said there are not enough bobbies on the beat to fulfil their traditional role as guardian.
Huge cuts in budgets and drastic reductions in officer numbers mean the public are in danger, says the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers.
In a survey, 288 federation delegates were asked: “Does your force have enough police officers to keep the public safe?”
Just three per cent said numbers were adequate.
There are now 22,000 fewer bobbies on the beat than in 2010, according to federation figures.
Over the same period hundreds of millions of pounds have been sliced off budgets.
Ministers insist the 43 police forces in England and Wales have enough resources despite the surge in crime – particularly violence on the streets.
But the federation, which represents 120,000 officers from constable to chief inspector, claims a crisis is only being averted by officers working longer hours, sacrificing rest days and giving up holidays.
As a result, most say they suffer from high levels of stress, anxiety and low morale.
Under such pressure, officers in the frontline are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, say experts.
In a hard-hitting speech to the Police Federation conference in Birmingham last week, chairman Calum Macleod said: “Public safety has been compromised, officer welfare has been compromised, confidence has been affected by the fact the public are not seeing police.
“They are not there, they are not visible. It is letting crime run away.”
Cuts in officer numbers have prompted some police leaders to question their ability to cope with a huge outbreak of civil disorder on the scale of the riots in the summer of 2011.
“We would be incredibly stretched and the public’s safety compromised,” said Mr Macleod.
Vice-chairman Che Donald told the conference: “With the increased demand and decreased numbers… we cannot deliver a service to adequately keep the public safe.
“Cancelled rest days, leave embargoes, single crewing, reductions in neighbourhood policing and unworkable, unsocial and unmanageable shift patterns.
“All of these are attempts to meet the current demands being placed on the service. All of them are failing and all of them impacting on the health and wellbeing of our members and our ability to protect and serve the public.”
In a speech to the conference Home Secretary Sajid Javid pledged to support officers.
He told delegates he wanted to “reset the relationship between Government and police”.
Relations between the federation and the last two Home Secretaries, Theresa May and Amber Rudd, were sometimes tense.
Mr Javid reminded the conference that his brother was a serving police officer and told delegates: “I will give you the tools, powers and the backup you need to get the job done.”
Violent crime in England and Wales is rising at an accelerating pace, according to latest police figures.
They show a 22 per cent increase in knife crime and 11 per cent rise in gun crime. Police recorded 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year to December 2017, a 22 per cent increase compared with the previous year (32,468), and the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010.