Neighborhood policing not sustainable with imposed budget cuts

Local police patrols in danger of being 'eroded' by budget cuts, despite drop in crime

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While overall crime in England and Wales down 9 per cent on last year, reported rapes are up 2 per cent. Budget cuts, however, could seriously undermine the safety and protection of the public, regardless of the complacency of government.

pcso1The police services across the UK face fundamental changes to the way they operate after a report that come out on July 18, 2013 revealing that five forces will struggle with further budget cuts after the anticipated loss of nearly 32,000 jobs across England and Wales by 2015.

A report by the police inspectorate said that forces had generally coped well with 20 per cent cuts over five years but warned that local patrolling was in danger of being “eroded” and could have an impact on crime prevention programs. The report also raised concerns that the response times to 999 calls were rising in some areas.

The study was released after the Office for National Statistics reported a 9% fall in recorded crime for the last year, despite a rise in rape offenses and a 27% increase in fraud. The Government said the figures were vindication of radical reforms that had seen budget cuts and the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners.

Recorded crime, though, is a very questionable figure for some crimes are not, in fact, being recorded. All too often controllers refuse to log something as a crime, such as vandalism or break-ins into empty properties, for example.

Despite the fall in some recorded crimes five of the 43 police forces in England and Wales will struggle to find further cuts after March 2015, according to the report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. They include two of the smallest forces, Lincolnshire and Bedfordshire, which have fewer options to trim budgets and raises the prospect of police mergers in a radical change to the policing landscape. West and South Yorkshire and Northamptonshire also faces future problems.

The Government has opposed such changes and the election of 41 police and crime commissioners appeared to steer the debate away from senior police demands for fewer forces. But in a speech earlier this month, the policing minister Damian Green said he had nothing against mergers in principle where they are supported by PCCs and the local community.

The HMIC report said that the failure of forces to collaborate represented a major lost opportunity in cutting costs, but chief inspector Tom Winsor warned that mergers involved a “serious degree of disruption and expense”.

He highlighted some forces where there had been “mergers by osmosis” such as Kent and Essex which has a joint serious crime command. “Working smarter – doing things in different ways – will be necessary,” he said. “That will include greater measures of collaboration between forces and with the private sector and other parts of the public sector.”

And with private sector we can assume that the aim is to, more or less, privatize policing, and outsource it, including, despite that we are told otherwise, the patrolling of the streets, to companies such as G4S and security services that are operated by former military personnel, as are used for protection duties of many public officials on public events, including firearms carriers.

The report also raises concerns that in some areas, police community support officers and other community support officers (community wardens) – neither of who have the powers of arrest – have taken over the role of local patrolling. There is also evidence that volunteer specials are plugging gaps following the expected loss of 15,400 police officers by 2015.

In some areas, it would appear from the report, the neighborhood policing is all but done by PCSOs and community wardens already because of those cuts. It would appear that the British public are being conditioned to see fewer sworn officers on the streets and to accept policing by private companies. While, at the same time, being conditioned that they, the people, are not permitted to protect and defend themselves against crimes.

The Con-Dem coalition, led by the Conservatives, are hellbent on selling all of the family silver, so to speak, by privatizing all of the public services of the country wherever possible and even if it is not possible it is going to be done.

How did it go again on the ill-fated Apollo mission? Houston we have a problem. We indeed have a problem and it is the government.

© 2013