These were the words of an anonymous Home Office spokesperson in response to a Sky News item this morning detailing the £1Bn worth of property that the Metropolitan Police has had to sell off since 2010 to keep their heads above water. Some of the buildings have been owned by the Met since the 19th century. Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Ken Marsh, said “We’ve sold the Crown Jewels, so to speak. We’ve run out of things to sell. This is really, really, worrying for society,”
“At the end of the day they have all been sold so that we don’t have to cut police officers. That is shocking.
“The government talk a good talk, always praising us and saying how brilliant we are.
“But when it actually comes to it, you know, there’s officers around the country using food banks.”
“Closing police stations is the stark reality of crippling government cuts to the police budget which has contributed to officer numbers dropping below 30,000 in London for the first time in 15 years,” a spokeswoman for the Mayor of London said.
Mr Marsh highlights that modern policing has more responsibilities than ever before and says that expanded role is causing strain.
He said: “You get to breaking point because we’re not social workers, we’re not mental health specialists – but now my colleagues are having to deal with all these things on a daily basis.” “That just has a massive drain on your resources. It will eventually crack.”
Let’s think about that for a moment.
It was over a year ago when I first posted that over 600 Police Stations had closed and over 100 more were scheduled for closure. Suddenly it is news, with the Daily Mirror suddenly waking up to this fact and making Front Page news.
600, 650, however many Police Stations it has been, does that really convince you that the Police have the resources they need to carry out their duties?
I have been posting about reduced Police numbers since 2010, how is that suddenly news? Are the media finally catching on to the realities of #Austerity?
Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of Greater Manchester Police also hit the headlines today.
Mr Hopkins made a very bold, but in my opinion, not only true but long overdue, statement
“There is this growing gap of people in the middle that, you know, expect us to turn up to their car that’s been broken into or their garden shed that’s been broken into or their bike that’s been stolen and they’re then finding out that we don’t,” he says.
“And from my perspective there’s two answers to this.
“People might accuse me of being simplistic, but either the public have to understand that that’s just the way policing is now in the 21st Century and we make difficult decisions around our resource allocation and what we’re dealing with – or there has to be more police.
“And as I say, that might sound quite simplistic, but I don’t see what the solution is in the long term unless there’s either an acceptance of that kind of policing or there’s an increase in resources.”
I fully agree with Mr Hopkins, but I only wish that the National Council of Police Chiefs would get on board and shout with one voice. The government are never going to listen to 1,2,or 3 voices, because that’s about all there are speaking out against the reckless cuts, all in the name of a discredited #Austerity.
More and more Police Officers are being tied up dealing with incidents that are more appropriate for Social Services or the NHS, Mental Health crises for example. Incidents such as those can tie up Police Resources for 6-8 hours easily. Why are the Police dealing with them? Because the NHS and Social Services etc have also been ravaged by #TheCuts and they are unable to deal with it, so it gets pushed over to the Police to deal because they “never say no”. Well maybe they will have to start saying no.
Honestly, how would you feel if you called the Police because your house had been burgled, or you had been robbed of your expensive watch or mobile phone, and they gave you a Crime Number and said “Sorry, nothing more we can do”. Believe me when I say that is NOT because they don’t want to deal with your crime. Every Police Officer I have ever known has always wantyed to attend the scene of every crime and speak personally to every victim, try and find potential witnesses, sucure evidence, forensics etc. It is because they CAN’T do it any more.
Personally I would add a third option to Mr Hopkins’ suggestions. I know that the Police are not everybody’s favourites, but every survey published indicates that they still have an immense amount of public support, consistently higher than politicians of every flavour, but if you have ever been a victim of crime, a member of your family has ever been a victim of crime, someone you know vaguely down the pub has ever been a victim of crime and the Police were unable to respond within a reasonable timeframe, write to your MP and make a reasoned, well thought out argument and formally request that this government reverses these ludicrous, reckless, cuts and starts properly funding the Police Service again and recruiting to fill the shortages. Miracles will not happen overnight, it will take years to recruit, train and replace lost experience, but it has to start soon or it will be too late. The #CrisiInPolicing is here, now, it is real, and from where I’m sitting it is looking terminal.
This is what happens to crime when you slash Police numbers. I do not believe it is a coincidence, I do not believe that is brought about by “better recrding practices” or “historical offences”. If you look at the goivernment’s favoured index of crime rates, the Crime Survey of England and Wales, total crime levels are actually HIGHER than Police recorded Crime, and they don’t even include all of the categories of offence.
If you do write to your MP, do not hesitate to quote the chart on the left, it has been compiled using Home Office data.
Finally we hear a lot about “The Front Line”. The Conservatives have been great at reassuring us how they will always protect the Front Line. Well, this is how they do that, again, Home Office and Office of National Statistics data were used for this chart too.