Police Fears for Jobs -
How do the Figures stack up? 

The consequences of belt tightening in the economy is being felt right across the Criminal Justice System, non more so than in the Police it is widely reported in the media.

Using the figures available from the Police Federation and the Government, I thought I'd take a look at how the claims and counter claims, stacked up against the numbers. The results make interesting reading whichever side of the debate you are on.

It is reported that the government police reforms will have an adverse effect on the levels of crime. Amidst fears of job losses or redundancies, the Police Federation Survey reports that 89.2% of respondents believed strongly that police morale had fallen.

With a proposed reduction in spending 20% in over 80% of forces, many will face a rather large funding gap. The fear is that this funding gap will lead to large numbers of officers and staff job losses. It is estimated that officers could face a pay cut of around £4,000 and coupled with changes to pensions which could mean a reduction annually of £800.00, 61.3% of survey repondents believed that this could compel officers to leave the force.

The government's response to this is to point out, that across the country, approximately one fifth of the police officers are not actually on frontline duty. This equates to approximately 30,000 officers nationwide.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The government's priority is to deal with the budget deficit and as a service spending £14bn a year of public money the police can and must make their fair share of the savings.

It is accepted that Police numbers have increased in the last few years, but so has the population they are asked to protect. This has meant that in England and Wales, the Police ratio per 100,000 head of population is approximately 257 officers. If the cuts go ahead it is argued*, that ratio will fall to below 215 officers per 100,000 head of population, actually lower than the 1970’s and in the bottom third of the European Policing League.

The majority of respondents to the survey (64%) believed that as a consequence of cuts, crime levels will increase while a similar number believed that the quality of service they provided to the public would fall. Only 1.8% believed that the coalition government had no choice but to cut the police budget.

It should be noted that the number of responses force wide was 42010, with the highest percentage of respondents across the 43 forces coming from the Metropolitan force with 13.6% and the West Midlands at 10.5%; Suffolk, Dyfed Powys and Cleveland being the lowest at 0.5%. All other responders were between 0.5% and 5%. The ranks ranged from Constable 71.7% to Chief Inspector 1.3%.

Given that there were 142,363 Police Officers (full-time equivalents) in England and Wales on 30 September 2010, this respondent figure appears to represent about 29.5% of the entire force, not including the British Transport Police (Home Office).

It is recognised that there are officers who are not members of the Police Federation, there will be nonresponders due to work committments or wish to remain silent, or content to let the Federation make decisions on their behalf as it sees fit.

The obvious questions here are:

  1. Why did more than 70% of serving officers able to respond, NOT show their outrage to these cuts.
  2. Are the Government relying on the mood of the man in the street who sees his own circumstances in jeopardy, for support on the cuts?

If you think it is worth contemplating, as we used to say in University, 'Discuss.....'

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