Money is tight, yes I get that ! … for many years the great ship HMS Britain (or Britian as page one of the Government CSR Report says apparently) has been burning fivers in it’s furnace quicker than Sticky Mickey down the workshops can make some more on his John Bull printing kit.
But where does that leave 21st Century policing. We’ve already seen the Grim Reaper take the world’s biggest chain saw to policing budgets and decimate local policing services. By that I don’t mean throwing your local friendly neighbourhood bobby on the scrap heap, but by this crazy top-down mentality of sucking things back in – like your body would do if it had hypothermia – drawing precious resources away from the body’s extremities to protect the core.
And many would suggest this is what much of the cutbacks taken so far appear to have done – protect the inner sanctum of headquarters and senior staff at the expense of street level bobbies and support staff. Of course, that’s not the case for the most part, but seeing as the police generally have lived up to their astounding ability to not tell anybody what’s really going on, then whispers become rumours and rumours become reality.
Today’s (26th June 2013) Government Comprehensive Spending Review has revealed that policing budgets will soon be cut by another 4.9% – that’s on top of what has already been lost – leaving chief officers and bean counters with an even bigger headache – trying to keep the people safe with even less resources and cash than they had after the last round of cuts.
Recently we’ve been hearing small murmurs about ‘concentrating on criminals not crime’, ‘prioritising neighbourhoods’ and ‘encouraging partner agencies to take responsibility’ and so on and so on. Big words which are great for a Powerpoint slide when what we really need to do is (to borrow a phrase from a 1980’s Grange Hill anti-drug campaign’) to JUST SAY NO!
Mental Ill health patients are exactly that – patients, not criminals. it will be necessary for police officers to assist in the VERY early stages of intervention but rather than pussyfooting about, it must be made very clear to the NHS that medical issues are their forte – they are responsible for an ill persons care and welfare, NOT the police ! If (as is more than often the case) the excuse is going to be ‘”they are drunk” or “they are violent”, then it’s the health services problem to ensure that they have the facilities and capabilities in place to deal – here’s the shocker – people with Mental Ill Health problems often lash out – they are scared and frustrated; they do not always know what they are doing or feeling – it’s a symptom of a MEDICAL condition. Likewise they may also drink to excess, as a release, or to numb the pain they feel – it’s NOT a crime !!
Care Home Kids – by default many if not all will have problems. They have been removed from their natural homes for a multitude of reasons, none of which will be very nice. They are also confused, frightened, in many cases not used to ‘normal’ societal behaviour. That is NOT a crime. Councils spend an absolute fortune (in many cases £5000 a week per child) in paying private companies to ‘look after’ kids in care. It’s not unreasonable to expect these companies to pay for sufficient staff to properly look after the children they are RESPONSIBLE for. If you work in a home for children with ‘severe behavioural problems’ there will be things damaged and physical contact will happen – it’s the way it is.
Let’s throw into the mix Alcohol and Drugs – THE VAST MAJORITY OF AQUISITIVE CRIME IS COMMITTED TO FUND A DRINK/DRUG HABIT. Just in case you didn’t get it, I’ll say it again. THE VAST MAJORITY OF AQUISITIVE CRIME IS COMMITTED TO FUND A DRINK/DRUG HABIT. As a country we are appallingly bad at dealing with the problem of drink and drug abuse – if fact so is much of the Western world. The ONLY way to make real gains is to place people into mandatory, properly financed and monitored rehabilitation programmes to break the cycle, and in the case of illegal drugs, deal properly with the people dealing who cause misery for everyone else.
It is a simple fact that by being brave enough to conquer just the three mountains above, in the medium to long term the savings to police budgets and society as a whole would be so great that we could all sit down in ten years time and wonder what all this fuss was about.
And if you want to make even more instant savings to the cost of operating the UK’s police service; ask yourself this – Why do we still have 43 police forces in England & Wales ?
43 Chief Officer teams
43 differing uniforms
43 lots of procurement
43 differing systems
In fact, up to 43 different lots of everything !!
OK I know there is now the rumblings of joint enterprise between some forces on some matters but why on earth don’t we just bite the bullet and have one ‘national’ police force??
Objectors will no doubt argue about the loss of ‘local accountability’ but that’s not the case (if it’s done properly) – your local police officers will still be your local police officers; what I’m talking about is streamlining from the bottom UP for a change. The sheer economies of scale should be obvious to all – for example if you have 43 different buyers tendering for 200 vehicles there’s a lot more variants and opportunity not to get the best deal than if ONE national contract was offered for 8,600 vehicles!!
Then look at uniform – we are all police officers so why do we have to wear differing uniforms?? and paperwork – If I cross the ‘county line’ to assist with a job I may as well have landed on Mars as far as forms are concerned … and computer systems – why are they all different; no wonder police have come in for criticism for failings in the past; many’s the time I can’t get one computer to talk to another in the same police station, never mind a different part of the country!!
So there you go. That’s the Chaos Spending Review – loads of money saved and not a job lost – well not on the ground floor anyway!
JUST SAY NO and WORK AS ONE – simples!!
Ohhh, and give what’s left of the senior officers a new company car.
Courtesy of Constable Chaos