Based on the Coalition government’s decision to abolish the old system where the Home Secretary and Chief Constables were fully responsible on how the police force was being funded, the new system is less than friendly, the consequences of which are being felt both by the police force and the general public. The general election seems to have had a negative impact upon policing in the UK.
As of November 2012, the responsibility of police funding has come directly under the elected Police and Crime Commissioners unit. Although in general the police have consistently voiced their reservations about this new system, little adequate attention has been given, resulting in the current dismal morale condition of the force.
The general public are beginning to feel less and less protected as the presence of the police are certainly less “physically visible” than previously noted. Recently, more comments are being made in the press on the importance of having physical police presence to deter crime.
However, even with the commitment to work towards driving crime rates down, little can be done because of the current arrangements which deny the police force the important resources to deliver this much needed “physical visible” presence. The police budget cuts have had a particularly harmful impact on this.
Worsening Crime Rates
Lives are being put at risk daily with the increase in petty crimes. This is only the beginning as some people think that these petty criminals will eventually become bolder and evolve in taking to committing more serious criminal acts. The safety of the general public is also severely compromised, due to the worsening social and economic conditions. This naturally contributes to more wide spread criminal activities.
Many police federation personnel interviewed expressed concern over the increased incidences of riots which, in their opinion, are only going to get worse as police budget cuts make it harder to create a visible police presence on the streets. This is one of the main reasons why instigators and insurgents are becoming braver in their attempts to stir up trouble, as documented in a recent study of Reading the Riots. The study also cited many instances of police bravery and the different kinds of dangers they had to face during the battle to regain control on the streets.
There was also a lot of data recorded about their mounting frustration in not having adequate support to function optimally in the face of such potentially volatile and dangerous situations. As there was no support system in place to call on in the event of these riots going out of control, the police are now at a serious disadvantage. Such circumstances definitely spell heightened danger levels for the general public.
There have also been problems with trying to respond to social media networks as police budget cuts ensure fewer resources are allocated to this crucial area. Unable to effectively and speedily sort intelligence reports into facts or rumours leads to mistakes in deployments, thus rendering the “help” virtually useless.
A significant number of cases where there is a clear lack of respect or fear for the police force is rampant. The extent and nature of the violence which police now seem to be regularly encountering during the course of their duties is shockingly staggering. The current situation is so bad that police personnel interviewed expressed surprise that statistics didn’t show more fatalities on the job.
Many people have lost confidence in the current way the police force is being run. Complaints are often not being looked into and if there is any action taken it clearly stops at just that. There is rarely any, if at all, follow up action recorded, thus giving the general public a very poor impression on how their complaints are being handled. This significant lack of follow up action is mainly due to the severe lack of manpower, as police personnel are forced to focus on cases that are more urgent in nature. This leaves an unfortunate rise in repeat offences, as the offenders don’t see any immediate danger in being held responsible for their actions as their offences are classified as non-threatening or non-urgent.
With the looming possibility of more frontline police jobs being lost, and even more police budget cuts, there is clear evidence to support the general sentiment that public safety is no longer taking priority in the coalition government’s decision-making process. Among the affected areas that are most likely to be hit first, due to these budget cuts, would be the child protection and domestic violence platforms across the country. The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde was recorded to have said that any notion of being able to sustain the current numbers within the police force is simply delusional with the implementation of the budget cuts.