Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has given her reaction to the news that the Metropolitan Police has been placed into special measures.
The nation’s largest police force has told it must do better by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Five others are also in the same position – Cleveland, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Wiltshire.
Liz said: “If this is not a clear sign of a police service in crisis, I don’t know what is. In the case of the Met, it has been placed under special measures for the first time since it was established in 1829. This is a crisis of the Government’s making caused by years of underfunding and pay freezes.
“Thankfully Cambridgeshire is not in special measures, but we know that 39 per cent of our colleagues ‘never or rarely’ take a full rest break. They are expected to carry out their roles while exhausted, with lives often depending on it, and then after a difficult and dangerous day at work, they go home and worry about paying the bills.
“Police pay has lagged behind inflation for the past decade and is now more than 20 per cent below where it should be. This means we are failing to hold on to experienced officers and morale is at rock bottom. The lack of long-term funding also means the service cannot properly plan – it’s a perfect storm and something needs to change before it gets worse.”
The results of the HMICFRS inspection of the Met are still to be formally published, but are understood to identify 14 significant failings, including inadequate responses to emergency calls, failures towards victims of crime, errors in stop and search, and subpar crime recording – with almost 70,000 crimes going unrecorded in London.
Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales Steve Hartshorn said policing is “on its knees” and predicted that more forces will be placed into special measures.
He explained: “They have been facing huge challenges set against a decade of austerity during which we saw officer numbers plummet at a time when demand was soaring. Forces have been stretched to breaking point and that has had a detrimental impact not just on the service we have been able to provide but also on the officers themselves.
“Morale is at an all-time low with a pay freeze, at a time when other sectors received a pay rise, this was particularly hard for officers to stomach. Officers have seen a 20 per cent real terms pay cut and the ‘cost of living’ crisis has created a situation where some officers are being issued with food vouchers and others are struggling to afford to put fuel in their cars.”