Thursday, 21 July 2011

Farewell 2,500 Police Officers

The shocking headline about the full impact of police cuts has thankfully not been masked by the on-going phone-hacking scandal. That (however important) story has so far covered up the first rumblings of movement to outside providers in the NHS and the ever-increasing concern about the future of the Eurozone. Luckily, these police figures haven't slipped into the ether.

34,000 jobs in total are to be lost from our police service by 2015. 16,100 will be police staff, admin workers etc, and up to 1,800 will be community support officers. The rest will be police officers, 2,500 of which are considered front-line. We were assured that front-line services would be shielded from the cuts as much as possible. Losing police officers from our streets doesn't exactly tally with that, does it?

Look at the scenario. While cutting the number of police officers you are also cutting the number of admin staff. Doesn't this leave many of the remaining officers with piles of administration to do themselves? Yes, the Coalition have pledged to cut red-tape and admin wherever possible - and this is long overdue - but it is not going to happen overnight. Unless you can convince hapless bureaucrats to concede that all paperwork is not essential then the problem will continue. And, as things stand, as well as losing police officers, the ones left will be devoting extortionate amounts of time to tasks that keep them from the streets.

What about the bigger picture? Research suggests that burglary and robbery statistics could rise by 3%. It's not difficult to see why. Few jobs are being created in this country and, when they are, 80% of them are going to people born outside of the UK. While I'm not suggesting that unemployment leads directly into crime, it is easy to see how desperation may escalate.

Cuts need to be made. We're told this so often that our ears ache. But reneging on promises to protect front-line public services is not going to inspire public confidence in the people running our country. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, believes that the cuts to the budget doesn't necessarily mean that front-line services have to suffer. As with many of these cuts, the government blames ideology for the way cuts are implemented - it is political point scoring they say. Every time a Labour council is forced to cut services, a Tory council proudly asserts that they kept they services running. Of course, this has nothing to do with many Labour inner-city constituencies being deprived and Tory areas being affluent. Who could suggest such a thing?

Repeatedly, the country tells our officials that we want them to be tough on crime. An outcry against trimming prison sentences won a change of heart. How is taking police officers from our streets or forcing them to do more paperwork being tough on crime?

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