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Chief Constable: strain is showing from recent weeks

Chief Constable: strain is showing from recent weeks

🕔23.Jun 2017

Dave Thompson, the Chief Constable of the West Midlands, has entered the national debate over police funding and numbers which has risen up the agenda following recent terrorist attacks.

Mr Thomson suggests that his force would have real challenges now if faced by something on the scale of the the 2011 riots in Birmingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing on the National Police Chiefs Council blog site, he says:

In 1974 my predecessor as West Midlands Chief Constable, Sir Derrick Capper, faced a sustained UK IRA bombing campaign with 6,842 police officers.

Forty years later and after a horrific series of attacks in London and Manchester, I face a modern terror threat with 6,600 officers – a number that has already fallen by close to 2,000 and is set to fall further.

Mr Thompson accepts that numbers alone do not tell the full story with different powers, tactics and technology now in place. He highlights new challenges including anti-social behaviour and cyber-crime as well as acting as “the service of last resort for people who have fallen through the gaps of other services.”

A larger and more diverse population and the presence of digital technology means the fall of 20,000 officers across the country “is an important part of the equation” he says.

Mr Thompson writes:

The current flat cash settlement for policing means force budgets will fall in real terms. We are guaranteed a shrinking government grant each year, which can only keep up with 2015 levels if police and crime commissioners increase local taxation to the maximum.

Taking into account inflation and cost pressures there will be less money every year for forces on top of real terms cuts of 18 per cent since 2010.

Police leaders need to continue to reform, look hard at what needs to be done differently, and be bold and innovative in rising to the challenge, according to the West Midlands top cop.

The Chief Constable makes three key points in his blog:

Firstly, the funding forces receive needs to be stabilised with real terms protection for policing as a whole. Last year we saw the prison service snap under pressure with riots in Birmingham Prison. We cannot afford this to happen to policing but the strain is showing from recent weeks and we’d have real challenges in dealing with something like the 2011 riots again. When things break recovery is never quick, and in policing it takes considerable time to recruit and train staff.

Secondly, the money we have can be spent more effectively. Chiefs and PCCs are working together to change the way we deliver forensics, armed policing, surveillance and major investigations; making them more affordable and effective with surplus costs available to reinvest in other priorities. We need continued support from the government to drive through changes like this. It’s also time to ask why a growing proportion of the police budget is being allocated to managing complaints or non-policing spend at a time when our core role is under strain.

Thirdly, targeted increases in government spending will help us tackle the threats we face. Government is already supporting work to enhance our ability to exploit the digital world to keep people safe; more investment will be needed with a growing cyber threat. Counter terrorism policing is stretched and is in no place to deliver efficiency savings. We will also need to think very carefully about the need for enhanced protection for our officers who run towards the terrorists.

Mr Thompson goes on to underline the importance of neighbourhood policing as part of the counter terrorism effort.

A service that is not meeting the needs of local people is not likely to win their trust or assure them of their safety. Without investment or protection this time-served feature of policing will disappear at huge cost to our nation’s security.

The Chief Constable concludes:

It is time for police leaders to work with our new government and make the case for realistic investments in our service at this critical time.

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