Financial pressures are undermining the police according to influential Public Accounts Committee of MPs
A new report from the cross-party Public Accounts Committee has said public confidence has been ‘severely dented’ as forces reprioritise work in response to funding cuts.
The committee, of which Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, is a member, reports that forces cannot do everything and are prioritising their work by cutting back in some areas, such as neighbourhood policing meaning fewer officers on the street.
Funding for police forces is down by nearly a fifth since 2010-11 and there are nearly a fifth fewer officers and staff. Inevitably there are consequences and forces are under increasing strain.
The PAC reports that public confidence in the police is declining and officers’ personal resilience is under pressure with this reduction in visibility.
The committee also found violent crime and sexual offences have increased and forces are dealing with more incidents which are not crime related, at the same time as coping with fewer frontline staff.
Forces are feeling the pressure of ‘cost shunting’ as cuts to other areas of public spending, such as health, are passed onto policing because it is so often the first line of response.
Member of the PAC, Stephen Morgan MP, said:
“Police forces can’t go on like this. In Portsmouth we’ve seen frontline policing cut to the bone and crime has risen by 10% – it’s not fair and it’s not safe.
People in our city understand that our police officers are doing their very best against an impossibly challenging background of repeated cuts. But they’ve also seen their streets become less safe. Our report shows just how severe the impact of current Government policy has been on the frontline.
It’s time for the Home Office to finally step up to the plate and fix this broken funding system.”
Chair of the Police Federation, John Apter, said:
“This report is the latest in a long series of huge red flags for the Government. This is now a critical situation and a national scandal. And they can’t say they weren’t warned
Dedicated police officers are at breaking point and are overwhelmed by the ever-increasing demands being heaped on them as a result of eight years of austerity.
My already stretched members are having to work extended shifts and having their days off and leave cancelled to ensure public safety – which of course they will do.
This is just one example of what we are facing every day across England and Wales and it cannot be maintained – despite the press releases there are ‘no extra officers’ – we are running on empty.
Our concerns are replicated by chief constables who are now admitting that they no longer have the resources to keep their communities safe, and by public bodies and parliamentary committees which say the police service is being let down by a lack of leadership.“