Coalition police cuts are unsafe and unsound

Dominic Browne reports on the dangers and unfairness of Tory cuts to the police force.

Cameron and police

David Cameron has often told us how important it is to cut police bureaucracy and get officers onto the frontline. The latest news on police cuts shows that not only are they unfair to experienced officers still willing to work who are being forced into retirement, but also don’t  produce Cameron’s desired effect. 

When launching the Tory manifesto last year Cameron said:

“Yes, there will be cuts…in police paperwork to get officers out on the beat”

Two days ago The Guardian reported that

“Serving police officers are being taken out of frontline roles and moved to cover the “back-office” functions of civilian staff who have been made redundant, according to leaked memos which show the perverse side-effects of budget cuts.

The decision by Warwickshire police authority – one of the smaller forces in England and Wales with 1,800 officers and staff – to draft up to 150 frontline officers into civilian desk jobs is expected to be followed by other forces grappling with a 20% cut in their Whitehall funding.”

A report (pdf) from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), published in July, said that a “re-design” of the police system could:

 “at best… save 12% of central government funding, while maintaining police availability.”

The coalition has planned front-loaded cuts of 20 per cent by 2014/15. In order to achieve this, forces are resorting to the so-called A19 mechanism. This allows for a police officer, with more than 30 years pensionable service (including any amount transferred in from a previous pension scheme), to be forcibly retired, with 28 days notice, provided it is on the grounds of “efficiency”.

Case studies seen by Left Foot Forward show that in the name of efficiency this country’s police force will now lose the skills of, amongst others, the following officers who have spoken out against the resort to A19 orders:

– Inspector Mark Stokes

33 years service ending March 31st. He is the longest serving officer in the country in his specialist role of crime reduction. Based within the CID department, his role provides knowledge and expertise to architects, councils, housing associations etc on how to design buildings and estates to minimise crime.

After his department got involved with Duddeston Manor in Birmingham, five tower blocks with massive crime rates, they saw a 98.7% reduction in crime.

– Police Constable Ian Rees

34 years service, finished now. He spent the last 20 years at roads policing department on the motorways. A front line officer he is often the first officer on the scene at incidents on the motorways and works 24/7 shift hours. 

He was the first officer on the scene of a motorway crash on the M42 when a minibus carrying a family to a funeral overturned . There were several seriously injured and one fatality. He secured the scene, directed traffic and managed the situation. Following the event he worked as a liaison officer to the family, supporting them through this trauma.

– Detective Constable Tony Fisher

33 years service – finished now. Worked for CID in Stretchford, Birmingham and specialised in robbery from street crime and serious organised crime. He worked with the victims of robberies gathering evidence and building cases. Over the period of his employment serious robberies went down 30-40% in Stretchford.

Last year following a series of robberies targeting elderly persons withdrawing cash from cash machines, DC Fisher and a colleague built up the evidence and tracked down the suspect who lived in Nottingham. The suspect was subsequently charged and given 13 years.

Under this coalition government the word “efficient” appears to be losing all meaning. Is it really efficient to lose such skills and experience and to push ahead with such dramatic cuts, against advice, of a service that underpins all others.

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