Impact of cuts being felt as Federation calls for long-term funding settlements
South Wales Police Federation has warned the crisis in policing will worsen unless the Government comes up with a long-term funding deal and improved pay and conditions for officers.
Branch chair Steve Treharne said more than a decade of cuts had left policing so under-resourced that its services to the public were now being affected.
He spoke out after a new report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) found most victims of burglary, robbery and theft “aren’t getting the justice they deserve ' from overstretched police forces across England and Wales.
Steve said: “This report makes for difficult reading and has raised a whole raft of issues but it shouldn’t really come as a huge surprise because the alarm bells the Police Federation have been ringing for more than 10 years have simply been ignored.
“As police officers, we want to deliver an efficient and proactive service to the people of our region but that has become increasingly difficult over the years and the consequences we warned of have now materialised.
“When we told politicians that cuts and underfunding would have a negative impact on the service we provide we were basically accused of scaremongering and crying wolf.
“But now we have reached crisis point I think it’s time for the people who dismissed our concerns to start taking us seriously and take urgent action to put things right.
“A long-term, sustainable funding settlement would be a good place from which to start and would enable chief constables and police and crime commissioners to plan ahead instead of being expected to formulate plans and strategies policy piecemeal.
“Our members deserve more investment, better benefits and, something for which I have long been a vocal advocate for, an appropriate integrated learning environment.”
The HMICFRS report found a number of shortcomings in some police forces across England and Wales in dealing with the offences and was published against a backdrop of recent Home Office data which showed just 6.6 per cent of robbery offences and 4.2 per cent of thefts in England and Wales resulted in a charge in the year to December 2021.
It also discovered forces often lack capacity to investigate and, in some cases, the capability of officers was called into question due to a lack of practical skills and lack of access to joint tasking or problem-solving processes.
Many frontline uniformed response officers tasked with investigating these types of crimes said administration and competing demands delayed investigations.
Steve rejected suggestions that responsibility for the current crisis in policing should lie with individual officers.
He said: “Our members work incredibly hard, face an impossible workload and often find themselves in the most challenging of situations.
“The idea that they are in any way to blame for this crisis is utter nonsense. Government policies, disastrous levels of funding, inadequate training and a shortage of experienced officers have led to this.
“And those who are at fault should now be doing all they can to fix the problems they created.”
National chair Steve Hartshorn said recruitment and officer retention was a key factor in the crisis and needed urgent attention.
He said: “We appreciate the Government is continuing with its uplift programme after a decade of police numbers being decimated, but there are still shortfalls in the number of detectives in forces across England and Wales.
“There are also localised issues with recruitment that need to be addressed in relation to the uplift.
“There is also huge concern around experienced officers leaving the service in droves and the knock-on effect this has on officers new in service. Leaders must ensure they do not just focus on getting people through the door.”