Posted by: iangilbert | February 9, 2012

New threat to police numbers

Crime is a big issue in Victoria Ward, and papers I received yesterday show that as a borough we are in danger of missing our crime targets, a range of crimes are up on a year ago. After housing, anti-social and criminal activity of one kind or another represents the biggest casework issue that people bring up with us as councillors. Every crime represents real suffering in a victim. The Police are finding it harder to cope as their workload increases and their resources decrease.

I therefore read with deep concern that Essex Police face a funding black-hole:

This reminded me of an argument I had with my Tory opponent last year. I first noticed his blog when I reacted with incredulity to his headline: ‘Police numbers to rise in 2012’. An astounding claim given that the Chief Constable of Essex has said his force will lose one in ten police officers over the next few years.

What he’d done is recycled a press release that James Duddridge had put out pointing out that the number of NEIGHBOURHOOD Police was set to rise, certainly not the total number of police in Essex or anywhere else. If I were cynical I might say that James Duddridge deliberately wanted the ‘police numbers to rise’ headline and hoped that people would miss the fact that he’s simply talking about a change of designation within an overall cut.

I’m all in favour of neighbourhood policing and I welcome the fact that the Chief Constable was prioritising it. However,  ‘Neighbourhood’ Police get dragged off onto other policing work whenever there is significant pressure on police resources – such as with the Dale Farm eviction, the riots and even when there was a large run of burglaries in the area. Therefore protecting the ‘neighbourhood’ element of policing whilst cutting resources elsewhere is a hollow achievement – I’d be willing to bet that these officers spend a fair chunk of their time doing other general police work.

Now it turns out Neighbourhood Police numbers may not be rising after all, they could well be cut along with all the other Police roles. I wonder if we’ll see a correcting press release from Mr Duddridge? Somehow I doubt it.

By the way, if people want an idea for savings, start by scrapping the unwanted and unnecessary Police Commissioner elections and put the hundreds of thousands of pounds that will save into front-line policing. When the Conservatives stop wasting money on daft projects (as with the ludicrous reorganisation in the NHS) then people might take them more seriously.



  1. I honestly cannot recall anyone who has welcomed the cull in frontline policing. Anti-social and criminal behavior in parts of Southend is a real concern.

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