Many people just do not understand the full extent of the demands currently being placed on the police service or the impact of the radical change it has faced.
Unfortunately, that includes people who work within the Home Office, the Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and some senior police officers.
That isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, but never before have the people who hold significant positions within these influential bodies been so out of touch with the current and future demands facing a rapidly diminishing police service.
With another round of significant budget cuts around the corner, Lancashire’s chief constable Steve Finnigan has a lead role in directing a project which will identify and analyse all the work the police do which isn’t readily captured by crime statistics and other performance data.
This may include quantifying the amount of effort which goes into issues such as proactive, preventative and reassurance work.
He has highlighted that only 17 per cent of incidents reported in Lancashire result in a crime being recorded.
This means 83 per cent of recorded incidents are calls for assistance not strongly linked to crime. This will be important work, as the government believes that because crime has reduced, fewer police officers are needed. When the reality is the types of demand on police time have actually changed and increased.
However, whilst managing demand may be occupying the thinking of senior police leaders, there are other issues arising from the changes to the police service which are affecting the operational end of the service.
Policing used to be thought of as a career for life and now that is not necessarily so. There are an increasing number of officers who join with the intention of serving for 10 years or less.
They are receiving specialist training and gaining experience which will improve their employability in other fields. The recruitment of too many short career officers will eventually lead to a dearth of experience.
It is vital the effects of this type of change to the make up of the police is properly understood otherwise we may end up with a service unfit for its true purpose.