Up to 40,000 front-line police jobs 'at risk' in UK

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Rahul92, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. Rahul92

    Rahul92 Senior Member Senior Member

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    As many as 40,000 front-line police jobs will be at risk across England and Wales if expected 25% budget cuts go ahead, the Police Federation has said.

    The body, which represents English and Welsh police officers, said such a staffing reduction would make policing as it is now "unsustainable".

    The Police Federation said it was inevitable crime would go up.

    Policing and Criminal Justice Minister Nick Herbert has called on the Police Federation to avoid scaremongering.

    The cut to the police budget in England and Wales is generally expected to total 25% - in line with other government cutbacks - but the exact level will not be known until the current spending review is published in October.

    Mr Herbert told the BBC that the Police Federation was simply speculating at this stage.

    "We do have to be careful not to make assumptions and then to follow on from that with suggestions that may unnecessarily alarm the public," he said.

    "Very large sums of money are still going to be made available to policing.

    "Of course there will have to be savings, we have been quite clear about that."

    He added that while police forces will have to find their share of savings, the government believed they could be found, "particularly in regard to police forces working more efficiently, savings in the back room, and forces collaborating on procuring equipment".
    'Christmas for criminals'

    The Police Federation's warning came after Hampshire Constabulary said it planned to axe 1,400 posts - 20% of its workforce - including police officers.

    Figures from the federation also showed that the West Midlands force could lose up to 1,000 officers as it makes cuts of £140m.

    The data also indicated that Greater Manchester had already lost 221 officers since last December and North Wales would lose 251 in the next four years.

    Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation, said it would be "Christmas for criminals" if a 25% cut to the police budget in England and Wales went ahead.

    He added that in addition to losing front-line staff, specialist departments such as those involved in child protection and domestic violence may have to be disbanded.

    "Crime is at the lowest level it has ever been in the last 30 years, I think it would be a dreadful shame if we threw that away now," he said.

    "We agree we have to take cuts, but not to the level the government is talking about."

    Mr McKeever added that Home Secretary Theresa May had been badly advised by people who "did not understand" the reality of the cuts.

    He called on her to fight the case for the police budget to be reduced by a much lesser amount.
    All-time high

    A report for Police Review magazine back in July said that threatened budget cuts to the police service in England and Wales could lead to 60,000 police officer and civilian posts being lost by 2015.

    The Police Federation's new 40,000 figure applies only to front-line policemen and women.

    Police spending reached an all-time high of £13.7bn in the last financial year - almost 50% more than it was when Tony Blair became prime minister in 1997.

    Officer numbers are also at their highest ever, but the proportion directly involved in beat work has fallen by 1,500 in the last four years, while the number in niche or specialist policing units - such as terrorism or child abuse - has increased.

    Up to 40,000 front-line police jobs across England and Wales will be at risk if the government's 25% cuts go ahead, the Police Federation has said.

    Q: What is the current strength of the police?

    Officially, there are almost 144,000 police officers across the 43 forces - a record level which is continuing after a decade of growth.

    Those warranted officers are supported by 80,000 non-police staff in stations, conducting back-office functions and other duties.

    The former Labour government also created some 17,000 police community support officers, who patrol the streets.

    Finally, there are about 15,000 special constables who work voluntarily, providing additional resources for the police, such as at major public events.

    Q: What do all these officers do?

    There are 220 top officers across the forces, meaning the chief constables and their senior management. There are almost 108,000 constables available for duty and a further 23,000 sergeants.

    In recent years the job has changed quite significantly, with more officers moving out of beat patrol roles and into specialist units, such as crime scene investigation and domestic violence.

    Q: So what do we know so far about cuts?

    Every force in the country is preparing itself for a hit - although there are concerns in Whitehall that some forces are not doing enough.

    The annual policing bill runs to about £14bn and most of the costs are in staffing leveks.

    Some details have already emerged. West Mercia Police says it will lose almost 300 posts, a third of them officers.

    Birmingham MP Stephen McCabe told Parliament this week that West Midlands is looking to lose 2,000 of its 14,000 posts.
    [​IMG]
    Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle has said his force faces a "daunting" challenge of having to deal with potential cuts of £45m.

    Q: What's the view from outside the forces?

    In July, thee national spending watchdogs, including the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, issued linked reports on value for money in policing. They concluded that forces could save up to £1bn.

    They said that cuts, equivalent to about 12% of what central government gives forces (the balance largely comes via Council Tax), would not be easy to find and that savings beyond that would lead to cuts in "police availability".

    Tim Brain, the recently retired Chief Constable of Gloucestershire and former national spokesman on police finance, has calculated that a cut of 40% (the government's worst-case scenario) could mean the loss of 60,000 posts - about a quarter of total officer and staff manpower.

    Q: Can that be done without damaging policing?

    Chief constables are looking at this differently. They are taking stark numbers like those produced by Tim Brain and debating what they can do to avoid damage. That debate comes down to three key issues: reform of working practices, collaboration and rethinking policing itself.

    Collaboration is the simplest to understand. Most experts think that England and Wales shouldn't have 43 forces - but people like the local connection of a force called Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire, rather than the anonymity of something that could be called "The East Midlands Police Service".

    So while mergers are politically difficult, collaboration is financially effective. Expect more forces to share more resources in expensive areas such as helicopters - but also other functions, such as funding custody suits, major crime teams and procurement.

    The Audit Commission says forces could also save £240m through central buying of everything from paper clips to police cars - but that does not sit easily with the autonomy and local accountability of chief constables.

    Q: What about the other two areas?

    Chief constables want to reform shift patterns and overtime payments but face an enormous battle with the rank-and-file. Earlier in the summer there were reports that the Association of Chief Police Officers had calculated that front-line jobs could be saved by cutting 450m from overtime and other pay practices.

    A lot of officers rely on those payments and will be unwilling to give them up lightly. An example of how this becomes expensive might be: There is little crime on a Monday morning - but lots on a Friday night. Officers patrol on Mondays, because the public like it, but then earn overtime for those "kebab-van patrols" on the weekend.

    But chief constables are also already looking at a radical rethinking of how police operate. Police civilian staff could take on more functions from constables that are currently reserved for warranted offices.

    Q: What about specialist units?

    The public likes visible policing but most officers believe that specialist units, such as domestic violence teams, deliver more results.

    But that is very different from the public reassurance role of the beat. So will forces cut specialist teams, which are less visible, because the public wants patrols?

    Figures compiled by the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, show that chiefs are already thinking down these lines. Some forces are considering cutting or merging domestic violence units. Nottinghamshire is among those looking at ending its specialist robbery team. Many forces may cut dog units, which play a valuable role in searches for evidence, criminals and, of course, missing children.

    This all poses a very difficult question about how the police and politicians define the frontline. The police are an emergency service and people want an officer to respond to a 999 call. But police themselves say the evidence is clear that they deal with more crime if they are more than just a 999 service racing from emergency to emergency.

    Q: Beyond managing cuts, does the government have plans for other reforms?

    Yes - and they are quite significant. The Conservatives have pledged to introduce directly-elected police commissioners from next May. These are officials who will set priorities for a chief constable and hold him and the force to account.

    Many senior officers are very concerned about how these commissioners will work in practice because they fear that policing may become subject to political priorities - and the politics will become difficult in an era of cuts.

    The government also says it will reform the approach to organised crime and immigration with a National Crime Agency. Ministers have also talked about creating a police reserve, although it's not clear what that means.

    BBC News - Q&A: Policing cuts
     
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  3. Rahul92

    Rahul92 Senior Member Senior Member

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    The largest so far is in Kent, where 1,500 posts are expected to be lost.

    The force is preparing for 20% of the budget - £53m - to be cut.

    West Midlands Police could lose up to 1,000 officers as it makes cuts of £140m, according to figures released by the Police Federation.

    The 1,400 posts that Hampshire Constabulary may lose - which equates to 20% of its workforce - would allow it to reduce its budget by £70m over the next four years.

    In Lancashire, up to 1,000 jobs - 400 police officers and about 600 clerical staff - are under threat.

    Chris Herbert, editor of the Jane's Police Review magazine, said the country would have "very much slimmed down police forces" if the government's budget cuts go ahead.

    He said he feared specialist units in areas such as rape, economic crime and cold case reviews, would be affected most.
    'Drastic changes'

    "If you are losing 25% of staff you cannot do what you did before," he said.

    "There will be much fewer police officers and police staff doing fewer things.

    "There will be drastic changes, there has to be, but it will not really be until the end of next month when we will know what it will be."

    A study was conducted for Police Review by former Gloucestershire Chief Constable Tim Brain in July, which suggested up to 60,000 police officers and civilian posts could by axed by 2015.

    Mr Herbert said the Police Federation's predicted 40,000 figure announced on Friday backed up their research.

    "The government is going to find it hard to say that this is all scaremongering because the hard facts are blaring out - what the federation is saying and what our research said," he added.[​IMG]
     

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