Today's columnist, Neil Bowes: Cuts and their consequences
I have read a couple of letters recently in The Star, complaining about the lack of response from the police and why ring us?
Last year South Yorkshire Police Federation ran a campaign called Cuts Have Consequences.
This was designed to let the public know the devastating affect the government’s budget cuts were having on the ability to police the county effectively and keep everyone safe. We wanted people to ask questions of their local and national politicians. This campaign was mirrored across the country by the Federations in over half the police forces.
The campaign was a success as the huge amount of feedback from social media proved, but Home Office civil servants stuck by their mantra “police reform is working and crime is down.”
They believed that as they repeated it so often, but nobody else did.
However, one of my colleagues stood back and asked what were the consequences of these cuts?
In South Yorkshire neighbourhood policing was dismantled; teams of detectives concentrating on serious crime and vulnerable people were centralised; teams of uniformed specialists such as dog handlers, mounted and search teams were decimated.
Does anyone remember we had our own helicopter? Officers don’t bother asking for one now, as it would never get here in time.
The latest crime figures show a huge increase in crime locally, with violent crime going through the roof.
Staffing levels of our response teams are more often than not below minimum staffing levels, overtime is being paid to anyone to make up the numbers.
A team would come on duty in the morning, and officers would be deployed to deal with prisoners, sit with prisoners either at hospital or in our cells. Some would start looking for missing persons. Some would have to go and relieve the previous shift at crime scenes. A couple more would be given the appointment list (those incidents that do not require a fast response).
That may leave one or two officers available to meet any fresh calls that come in.
On top of this each officers will have a workload of crimes and traffic collisions to investigate.
We have lost 900 officers since 2007 and about 700 police staff since 2010.
This is why mistakes are being made; we are slow to answer calls; slow to attend calls; slow to feedback to victims.
Nobody joined the police to give a poor service, the cuts have caused this state of affairs – that’s the consequence.