Policing could descend into chaos and disaster

Mick Gradwell

Mick Gradwell

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Rumour has it that several of the smaller UK police forces are just two years from declaring themselves bankrupt.

If that position is reached, nobody can say for sure what that would actually mean, but it is fair to assume that if people are not going to get paid, then they will not turn up for work.

This is one of the many potential problems facing the police service nationally as it struggles to deal with further reductions to their budget. Nearly every week, I read about some new idea that will revolutionise policing and save money.

The ideas tend to emanate from members of the newly formed National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) that has replaced ACPO, academics and various think tanks.

I haven’t read anything that fills me with confidence.

It includes ideas such as giving volunteers police powers, appointing special constables to have supervisory responsibility over fully trained warranted police officers and appointing chief fire officers to the role of chief constable, as the head of an amalgamated police and fire service.

Even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has talked about changing the very foundation of policing by arguing that the office of constable should no longer be classed as a crown servant. The main reason behind this thinking appears to be that the services of a constable under an employment contract can be disposed of far easier than is allowed by current police regulations.

The Public Accounts Committee has reported, yet again, that neither the Home Office nor police forces themselves fully understood the impact the cuts are having on operational demand.

In the countryside, many people are complaining that policing in rural areas has all but disappeared and everywhere cyber crime, terrorism, sex offences and child abuse are increasing exponentially. The Home Office should be taking the lead in providing a clear vision for the future of policing but they still appear content for developments to progress in an unplanned manner.

The current approach is a recipe for chaos and disaster, which could have serious consequences for some parts of the country.

Should that occur then the people who are responsible are Theresa May and Sir Tom Winsor (HMIC) for failing to provide leadership at this challenging time for the police service.