This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Will the last police officer turn out the blue light when they leave the station?

We are now less than six months away from the general election. Given that parliament has just put out its Christmas stocking, and most of April will be consumed by campaigning, this leaves about 12 weeks for the Government to achieve anything. And of course, achieve things they must (appear to) so to provide the electoral boost that comes with being the incumbent party... on the case, doing lots of stuff but with major things yet to do!!! (yada yada).

How much exactly will be achieved by a coalition that is beginning to feel like two magnets held together at the north pole is anyone's guess. But this hasn't stopped the Home Office from making a few announcements.

Today for example we have heard in a written statement to parliament that the police services on the ground can expect some more draconian cuts. Here is a link to the statement in full. (I may not have been keeping up quite so much these days, but who is Mike Penning?) Anyway, here are the headline figures:
  • There is to be a "4.9 per cent real terms headline reduction to overall central government funding to the police announced at Spending Round 2013. Taking account of the latest inflationary forecast from HM Treasury published alongside the Chancellor’s 2014 Autumn Statement, this means a total cash reduction of £299m in the overall police funding envelope compared to 2014/15"
  • This amounts to a cash reduction in this funding of 5.1 per cent (in cash terms) compared to 2014/15
  • providing a further £30m for the Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • supporting HMIC’s PEEL inspection programme with £9.4m
  • offering £4.6m for the College of Policing’s direct entry schemes
So far less money for the front line and more money for inspection, complaints and direct entry.


Do you remember this headline: Cameron: 'No Cuts To Frontline Spending'  from 2 May 2010 just before the election. You might recall the PM-to-be saying "Any Cabinet minister, if we win the election, who comes to me and says 'here are my plans and they involve front line reductions' will be sent back to their department to go away and think again."

So long ago...

Anyway, more money to the IPCC but hang on, wasn't this headline only last week "PCCs to handle complaints against officers" The article includes: A statement from the Home Office says that low level complaints will be handled by PCCs. It does not state what extra funding they may receive in order to do so. (My added bold) So will PCCs be getting a slice of the £30m or not? 

And what disturbs me the most is the blithe belief that seems to underpin so much of this: since crime is going down, we can cut police officers on the front line. No! Police officers do so much more than just tackle crime... Demands on police assistance are as high as ever, if not higher.

But of course, these cuts pale into insignificance against the plans for the future, were there to be a Conservative led government in power after May 2015... If Mr Osborne's plans come to fruition, expect even harsher cuts in the future so that 1930's policing can return to our streets and workplaces. 

Will the last police officer turn out the blue light when they leave the station?

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