It has been pleasing to see that more chief constables are making public statements about how current and future financial cuts are impacting on the level of service that the police can provide.
Sir Jon Murphy, the very experienced chief constable of Merseyside, has expressed his fears that his force may struggle to cope with a large major incident.
He has given the very clear public message that: “There is no gloss to be put on it. I want people to understand there is change coming.”
He expanded further by declaring that the future provision of police services will be less than before and in some instances the police will not be able to attend or attend much slower.
Whilst that will be concerning news for the public of Liverpool, it should not be overlooked that this reduced level of service will also affect the public of Lancashire. The Liverpool area has more than its fair share of professionally organised criminals and prolific criminals who choose to travel to commit crime.
Any reduction in targeting such people in the place where they live will give them greater freedom to travel to commit crime.
Sara Thornton, the new chief constable of the National Police Chiefs Council, has been warning that the police may no longer be able to attend burglaries, due to the reduced level of service. She considers the policing priorities are sexual offences, cybercrime and terrorism and the public need to be more aware of that.
I don’t disagree with Ms Thornton, but I am concerned that chief constables are being pressured to concentrate too many resources on these national issues; and local issues and local criminality are being too easily downgraded or dismissed.
The Police and Crime Commissioners have an important role in this to ensure that the policing priorities are appropriately balanced between national and local needs. I would like to see these people being more vocal than they have been to date, and put up a greater fight for the maintenance of our local policing services.
The honesty of the messages from the chief constables should be appreciated, but the public should not be expected to simply roll over and accept a ‘fait accompli’.
As an example, I would like to see the inefficiencies in the National Crime Agency being properly addressed before seeing more local policing resources being sucked into dealing with national priorities.