Cuts Have Consequences - Policing in South Wales - the true picture
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You can also download a hi-res image of the poster here
Media Statement on behalf of the South Wales Police Federation
Date: 3rd April 2015
Cuts Have Consequences
South Wales Police has over 500 police officers less than in 2007
For a period of 3 weeks from 6th April 2015, the South Wales Police Federation will be displaying banners on the rears of 120 local buses in the South Wales Police area. These banners are intended to highlight the fact that, due to budget cuts which will total £70m by 2019 in South Wales alone and which have resulted in the loss of 502 officers since 2007, the face of British policing is now irrevocably changing. The police will need to prioritise their actions and, in an age when digital crime, on-line fraud and counter-terrorism is consuming so much more police time than ever before, the public should be aware that cuts have consequences.
On top of the difficulties caused by cuts to the police budget, our partner agencies such as the Health Service, Ambulance Service and Social Services have also experienced huge cuts to their funding and this has resulted in their obligations often being passed to the police as the service of first and last resort with 72% of police officer time now spent in dealing with non-criminal matters.
Steve Trigg, Chair of the South Wales Police Federation, stated: “You cannot lose 15% of your workforce and expect no impact on your public service delivery. The police officers of South Wales want to perform to an exemplary standard but are often so busy in responding to calls that they are unable to provide the service they would like or the public deserve. This campaign is intended to highlight some of the difficulties faced by a senior management team who are expected to do more with considerably less and we are calling on politicians of all sides to pause and take proper cognisance of the true effects of the cuts on the communities we serve. Ultimately, prioritising our response to incidents may result in us no longer responding in the way the public have come to expect and that is a discussion that our communities should be privy to.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
- The Police Federation of England and Wales, represents more than 120,000 Police Officers up to and including the rank of Chief Inspector. Established by statute, we are responsible not only for the welfare of our members but also ensure that their views on all aspects of policing, including relevant legislation, are relayed to government, opinion formers and key stakeholders.
- The bus poster campaign will run from 6th April 2015 to 26th April 2015 and will cover 120 buses in the Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Neath, Swansea and Valley areas. You can view a pdf of the banner here
- An A5 information leaflet that will be sent to every prospective parliamentary candidate in the main parties in our area will support the poster campaign. You can view that leaflet as a pdf here
- Below is a briefing letter that we have prepared for the politicians and you can view it as a pdf here
The Briefing Letter sent to Existing and Prospective Politicians
South Wales Police, in line with every other police force in the country, has had to make swingeing cuts to its budget over the last 5 years or more. To date, our budget has been cut by £48,000,000 and, over the next 4 years, we will see it cut by a further £22,000,000 to give a total budget shortfall of £70,000,000 by 2019.
These cuts have taken a dramatic toll on our operational efficiency and the suggestion that frontline services have not been affected is inaccurate.
Since 2007 we have lost 502 police officers from our establishment, the equivalent of 15% of our sworn officers. Such a massive loss of staff is impossible to sustain without an impact on our public service delivery.
We now only have two police stations that are open throughout the day and night and the vast majority of others have closed their doors to casual visitors. This raises questions over our ability to engage with our communities and, often more importantly to the public in those communities, how they may engage with the police. Neighbourhood policing teams have been decimated by the cuts and the concept of neighbourhood policing is now very much in peril.
Police officers rarely patrol on foot due to the huge demands placed on their time so if you can no longer speak face-to-face with a police officer on the street and you can no longer call into a police station to report a matter, how do you actually engage with the police service other than over a telephone or via the internet? Public engagement is central to retaining confidence in the police and the concept of policing by consent so this is a matter of the utmost concern.
Most other organisations within the public sector have, of course, faced massive cuts to their own budgets but this has simply created a greater demand on our policing services as our partner agencies seek to mitigate their own resourcing issues by referring their obligations to us. We are the first and last emergency service and, as a result, our officers regularly convey patients to hospital when no ambulances are available and are often required to care for vulnerable children when the Social Services have no out-of-hours capability. All agree that a police cell is not a suitable place of safety for such vulnerable individuals yet we are being required to use them for this purpose all too frequently. 72% of our officers’ time is now taken up in dealing with non-crime matters so any suggestion that the role of the police is to deal with crime and nothing else exposes a shocking naivety towards the requirements of the modern police service.
Sir Robert Peel once extolled the virtues of the prevention of crime by saying:
“The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
However, the fact is that we are now a reactive force rather than a proactive service and simply react to calls rather than seeking to prevent crime. Officers simply do not have the time to stop and search suspects or to submit intelligence logs on known offenders to the extent they once did and our efficiency is affected accordingly. Likewise we rarely have the opportunity to patrol the streets in order to deter criminal activity.
The fact that we now have to make yet more swingeing cuts over the coming years is extremely damaging and the real fear is that such cuts would place the sustainability of an efficient service in jeopardy. Cuts can go too deep and it is our belief that we now need to take a pause and properly reflect upon the impact of the cuts on the service to date before pushing ahead with measures that could result in unexpected and unwanted consequences. The British Police Service is a national institution that is the envy of the world and should be protected. Cuts have to be made but not to the extent that our service-provision becomes untenable.
Steve Trigg, JBB Chair, South Wales Police Federation
Clare Biddlecombe, JBB Secretary, South Wales Police Federation