Chief Constable Chris Sims
The Obsession with Police Numbers is Pinheaded
“The familiar cry of “protect the front line” must not be allowed to reduce the issue of policing in an age of austerity to a question of headcounts or maintaining numbers of uniformed officers. Rather, it should be about guarding jealously the things that matter to the public reducing crime, resolving disputes, offering protection, as well as combating organised crime and terrorism. While the police service is applying itself to making this happen, the politicians fret that the public is not sophisticated enough to rise above the hackneyed demand for more officers on the beat.”
Another ACPO article but an interesting one nevertheless. Chief Chris Sims writes in the Times today suggesting that the mantra of debate regarding the front line is harming progress of reform. He quotes his own force having to cut £125m from the annual budget however one senses a cursing of the HMIC for stating the front line should make up 61% of all resources. Further suggestions of outsourcing to private companies will assist towards these huge savings highlighting 2 main areas of finance under the spy glass. Staff costs of 85% which Chief Sims suggests maybe unsustainable and cuts within the next 2 years.
He claims 2,250 Officers and staff face losing their jobs to keep the balance sheets in tune with the aim to save the £125m.
“An early, perhaps trivial, example: this month West Midlands Police announced that we will no longer accept reports of lost property, a longstanding but largely ineffective role that costs £300,000 a year.”
But will it? What do the Public think of this example? Are they even aware?
Another view from the Tax Payers Alliance following a Freedom of Information request found that over a £1m was spent by West Midlands Police on private consultants between April 2006 and March 2007. Is this the privatisation Chief Sims refers?
But he is quite insistent when he says “But the “protect the front line” mantra and the political obsession with police numbers remain potent. For the sake of the public, this clamour must not be allowed to frustrate our efforts to transform policing.”
Surely protecting the “front line” is paramount to Police Officers on the street where incidentally the Public want them to be?
It is also concerning that the “clamour” described may frustrate their efforts to transform Policing. But who are ‘they’? ACPO?
It is becoming clearer with each passing document published that ACPO are detached from the public they are attempting to serve. It wasn’t too long ago ACPO were supporting the Association of Police Authorities with the Winsor report.
It’s obvious the cuts are coming but surely there needs to be a period of consultation with the people actually doing the job?
So what do the Officers and staff of West Midlands Police feel is going on? Morale is low according to Twitter? No suprise there then! Who is listening to rank & file, the people actually doing the job?
As always tell us what YOU think? Is Chief Simms right or wrong?
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