It takes a think-tank to get stuff we all know in to the headlines.
Today sees several articles published about the decline in the number of front-line officers available to ‘fight crime’. This comes as a result of a report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College, London. Which found that between 2006 & 2007 the total number of police officers declined from 109,279 in 2006 to 107,819 in 2007, a fall of 1,460.
The press reports go on to talk about the rise of PCSO numbers & how the government is trying to police on the cheap.
None of the reports mentions that even when total police numbers were going up, the number available ‘on the front line’ have been going down for years.
I’ve probably mentioned it before, several times, I dare say, but twenty years ago or less there were probably triple the amount of front-line officers but only 3/4 (or less) of the totals we have today. And we attended a far higher proportion of calls for police than we do now.
Police call centres, as they are these days, have targets for how many calls they can get away with not sending anyone. Whole budgets exist to deal with matters on the phone. I had my ear bashed only this week by someone who had his garage broken into & lost several grand’s worth of equipment. Nobody turned up, the matter was dealt with over the phone & he was asking me whether he should wash the boot prints off the doors as nobody had come out to examine them or fingerprint the place.
In a typical division in my area we might have four or 5 police stations. Time was when every single one was fully manned 24 hours a day with a police officer on the desk, each police station had a full shift of officers who paraded from that nick. Now, you are lucky if 2 of the police stations have officers parading there. None will be open 24 hours. A full shift will now comprise the same amount of officers at just one of the 15 year-ago police stations, but now covering all 4 or 5 towns between them.
It’s all smoke and mirrors. The government think everyone will be placated when they announce record numbers of officers, but then fail to mention the actual amount available to service front line policing, which is all victims of crime are interested in; they want to know when & how quickly an officer will turn up on the doorstep. The fact that the force is winning awards because their diversity department are doing great things to promote gay recruitment utilising officers who would previously have dealt with their burglary, is completely unimportant to most victims.