Fewer police patrols not surprising

05 May 2015

News that more than a quarter of police patrols have been withdrawn from British streets is not surprising and increasingly worrying.

So says Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, following publication of UNISON’s report today ‘More trouble in the neighbourhood.

The report states that more than 1,000 police community support officer (PCSO) jobs in England have been cut every year since 2010.

“We share UNISON’s concerns and have been saying for some time policing is on its knees and cannot take any more cuts.

“We are obviously primarily concerned about officer numbers but our officers are supported in their roles by many other staff – such as PCSOs – who work within communities to deliver neighbourhood policing and we have huge respect for the contribution they make to policing.

“We have said it before and say it again: regardless of which party or coalition of parties gets into power, they must recognise one thing - policing is on its knees and simply cannot take any more cuts. If we are to deliver a functioning police service that is capable of protecting the public the wanton destruction of police numbers that has gone on over the last five years must stop. 17,000 officers have gone. 17,000 police staff have gone.

“Official crime statistics may have fallen but many people just don't bother to report crime and what figures don’t include are the myriad of other things officers do: work on counter-terrorism; work to tackle child sexual exploitation; managing sex offenders in the community; policing of football matches; policing drunks in town centres on Friday and Saturday nights. The list goes on and these are vital services which help us to build trust in communities and to protect the public.

“Time and time again I am contacted by officers who are at breaking point – who are unable to deliver the service they want to, who work on shifts with the nearest back-up miles away. They – and our police staff colleagues - have to choose which victims they can see and which ones have to wait – how fair is that? At the heart of it all it’s the public who suffer and communities that will bear the brunt.”

Notes to Editor:

In March 2010 in England – there were 16,200 police community support officers in post. In September 2014 – their number fell to 11,770.

The proportion of people who reported seeing police officers or even PCSOs on foot patrol in their local community also continues to fall, down from 39% in 2010/11 to 32% in 2013/14. Read more about this here

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis has said: “People feel safer when there is a visible and reassuring police presence on the beat. But four years of savage cuts to PCSOs mean that one in four police patrols have been withdrawn from our neighbourhoods since 2010. With fewer PCSOs, vital evidence and intelligence gathering will be lost and fewer crimes solved.”