The Government needs to end the boom and bust one-year settlements that prevent forces making strategic plans to fight crime and support communities and come up with a long-term and sustainable funding settlement instead.
This was the claim of John Apter, the national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales which has made a submission to the first phase of the Strategic Review of Policing, instigated by the Government and being carried out by The Police Foundation.
The submission called for an end to the current system where policing has been at the whim of political drivers with annual budgets set by national and local government and demanded a full review of the police funding formula to end the current postcode lottery where richer regions get more resources for policing.
Liz Groom, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Federation, supports the national chair’s comments and believes the years of austerity and uncertainty over police funding should fully demonstrate the need for a more long-term approach that would benefit the police service and the public.
“Since the austerity measures first began to take effect in 2010, we have seen police forces really struggling to meet demand. Reduced budgets meant we lost thousands and thousands of officers and those left behind have had to try to maintain an effective police service, often at the cost of their own health,” says Liz.
“We have welcomed the new approach in Government signalled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel and, of course, we are pleased to see signs of a re-investment in policing.
“But we do need to sound a note of caution. The Government’s three-year plan to recruit 20,000 officers will only take us back to the numbers we had pre-austerity and doesn’t seem to take account of the fact that during the recruitment process we will see a significant number of officers leave the service too.
“A long-term funding settlement needs to be put in place so that forces can better plan for the future and respond to the demands placed on them.”
The Police Federation’s submission to the Strategic Review also called for:
- An examination of the adequacy of mental health services and impact of the increasing number of elderly and vulnerable people in society
- A re-examination of a complaints investigation protocol which is labour intensive and often disproportionate to the magnitude of a complaint
- Proper analysis of the 43-force model of policing which ‘may not necessarily best serve the needs of the public’.
Describing the Strategic Review as a ‘once in a generation opportunity to help right the wrongs of austerity’, the national Federation chair said: “It’s almost 60 years since the last Royal Commission, and we have been calling for another since 1999. This review is an important opportunity for us to help shape the future of policing into the century.
“While appreciating that the police service is a 24/7, 365 days a year service, it does not mean it is best placed or best equipped to deal with all public demands. This is an opportunity to help determine what the public wants and expects of their police service.”
Following the conclusion of the first phase of the review, a further second phase will examine workforce, equipment, accountability mechanisms, structures and resources in early 2020.