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Where Are All The Police? – An Analysis of Police Resources

Over recent years we have all (but the public sector in particular) been told “we have to learn to do more with less”. The reality is that; front line operatives in all public services have been doing just that, it’s the middle to senior management that have not. In the majority of public services the management and ‘support structure’ outnumbers the delivery function at a frightening level.

Amalgamations and/or regionalisation of police forces and rationalisation of support functions like HR, Finance, Procurement and Estates etc will immediately provide the financial advantages presented by economies of scale. It will provide a reduction in the major public service expense which is people costs. It will not have an adverse affect upon local accountability as, the majority of operational and budgetary control has already been devolved to local Basic Command Units (BCUs).

Regionalisation of policing functions are already quietly taking place. This has been born out of a necessity to provide response resilience and the fact that, crime does not recognise local authority boundaries. The misconception that regionalisation/amalgamation is a ‘political hot potato’ that is unlikely to be supported by the public is a non starter. The public (and to some extent the politicians and the Home Office), have in many ways been brainwashed by ACPO , the APA and the media to believe it is not what they want as they will loose ‘local accountability’… Utter nonsense!

Remove the stupidity of the police officer split between Response Officers and Safer Neighbourhood Teams. A police officer is a police officer and, they should all be part of the community working for the community, as per Sir Robert Peel’s vision. This division of the police service has only served to create a feeling of ‘us and them’, both within the service but more importantly, between the public and the officers who serve them. Successive governments have succeeded in creating a situation of policing ‘by force’ as opposed to ‘by consent’, a factor totally opposed to the tried, tested and internationally respected principle of British policing.

The creation of the Police Community Support Officer was a reasonable concept however; it was one that has been flawed throughout the inception and development. A concept with the best of intentions that is poorly thought out is destined to face criticism. Indeed, an acronym has arisen amongst some fully empowered officers, nicknaming PCSO’s as C.H.I.M.P.S. (Completely Hopeless In Most Police Situations). Whilst somewhat cruel and undoubtedly misguided regarding the commitment of most officers, more positive support would have been forthcoming if the obvious weaknesses of the positions had been thought out properly at the outset. We have never understood the thinking behind the creation of CSOs with limited training, limited differing powers and pay scales often in excess of newly appointed fully warranted police officers. Especially when there was already a (somewhat decreased) pool of expertise available within the Special Constabulary, a resource that could have been developed and nurtured back to erstwhile levels. If we are to continue down the road of the ‘extended police family’ let the Community Support Officers take a more active role in the areas of police work which don’t require warranted powers. Give the CSO a job description with a set of powers (as required) that is a national standard. A standard that everyone can easily understand and, is the same nationally. Not one decided upon by the whim of a local member of ACPO.

The Special Constabulary could provide all the operational delivery and response support required by the full time police and the CSOs could have provided the ‘voluntary’ street warden type function that is so widely enthused about. This Government can indeed learn many lessons from the faux pas of missed opportunities of their predecessors..

• The Police Federation which represents the ‘service delivery’ part of the service has always embraced change, is ready for change and always has been.

• The police officers on the ground are crying out for change to prevent them from being run ragged.

• ACPO have said (unwillingly) they will accept change, and change they MUST. 53

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