‘Public at risk’: Federation call for investment in policing

A lack of genuine investment in policing is putting the public at risk, the Police Federation has warned as it urged the Government to step up to help ease the growing pressure on officers and staff.

National Federation chair John Apter said low officer numbers combined with the challenges of policing the coronavirus pandemic had made the current situation intolerable and called on ministers to take urgent action.

His comments, which came after more media criticism of the police, were welcomed by South Wales branch chair Steve Treharne who said he shared concerns that officers were struggling to cope with the growing demands they now faced.

John said: “It seems that no matter what happens within society, the finger of blame always leads itself towards policing, before the facts are known.

“The harsh reality is, despite the almost daily information being put out by Government and other agencies about the increase of police officer numbers, that we are still nowhere near where we need to be to react to everything the way the public would expect and the way that we should be able to. This is an inconvenient truth for some. 

“Compared to a decade ago, we have more than 10,000 fewer officers and thousands fewer police staff, many who perform critical roles often unseen by the public. At the same time as police numbers remain significantly reduced, the population across England and Wales has increased by more than four million. This has a consequence.

“Low numbers and a global pandemic mean that there is more pressure. Pressure on frontline officers, response policing, detectives and pressure on back office functions including departments like firearms licensing. The pressure is intolerable and leads to delays that are unavoidable despite our best efforts. 

“This is the reality that policing is facing, while at the same time being held accountable for matters that sit firmly with other agencies. Policing is often the service of last resort and we can’t always say no, we can’t close our doors at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. 

“We need to increase our numbers, officers and staff, above what is promised by the Government or we will continuously be chasing our tail, never being able to be fully proactive in dealing with the pressures we face. The lack of genuine investment in policing is putting the public at risk and that is something that no society should ever accept. 

“My colleagues, officers and staff, are committed to doing everything that we can to keep the public safe, but we need the help to do this.”

Steve said the South Wales branch gave its full support to the national chair’s position and backed his calls for urgent Government action.

He explained “Our members are doing their utmost to keep their communities safe and protected in extraordinarily challenging times but they need help to do so. 

“Officer numbers are well short of what is required and it is simply unfair to expect our members to carry the burden these shortages have created.

“If things go wrong they are always first in the firing line, but the reality is that every single one of these brave men and women does their very best every day and should not have to face the backlash in the media and from the public.

“The pressure on them has become so intense over the years and that has been magnified by the last 18 months with the extra demands created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The time has come for the Government to take a long, hard look at its attitude towards policing and come up with some genuine solutions to tackle this growing crisis.”