HMIC says neighbourhood policing ‘under threat’
It’s what everyone feared but few had the evidence. The Police Federation online campaign ‘cutshaveconsequences’ painted a bleak picture… so repetitively bleak it’s verged on a constant moan.
But now Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has confirmed that neighbourhood policing, the foundation block of modern day law enforcement, is under threat.
Today’s report on police effectiveness in 2015 states “we think there is a risk to neighbourhood policing, namely that the time neighbourhood teams can dedicate to their principal functions in their communities is being eroded and corroded.”
The report goes on to spell out what is happening behind the scenes to cover the gaps. “We found that neighbourhood officers… are now more frequently removed for short periods from their regular duties to carry out other functions, such as guarding crime scenes, or staffing counters in police stations.”
In some places where a team of six would act as the eyes and ears. there’s a just a single officer.
The Chancellor’s ‘rabbit out the hat’ move not to impose widely feared 25 per cent cuts was relief to Police and Crime Commissioners, but diverted attention from the gradual erosion of police resources.
Remember George Osborne said no cuts to police funding. But 38 forces are having to raises taxes to achieve that.
For example. residents of West Yorkshire will each be paying another £4 a year for frontline officers to in the words of the PCC Mark Burns Williamson “protect neighbourhood policing.”
He said: “It isn’t a short term fix and it will take a few years to repair some of the damage already done through the level cuts imposed over the past five years.”
The organisation which represents police chiefs has made the rather obtuse remark.
“All chiefs agree that the positive effects of neighbourhood policing should continue but we also must respond to calls for help and prioritise based on threat, risk and harm.”
So neighbourhood policing may have to be redefined.