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Cuts do have consequences. Now is not the time to play fast and loose with public safety.

2015 Police Federation Conference, Bournemouth, Dorset, Jason Bye, 19/05/15Chairman Nick Smart looks ahead to the Comprehensive Spending Review and its impact on policing

So what will the Comprehensive Spending Review bring on Wednesday and what will be the impact for the police service?

Most people think that the cuts will go ahead.

Despite the fundamental flaw that the Home Office have a complete lack of understanding of what impact the cuts will have on the service. So say the cross party Public Accounts Select Committee. Quite alarming.

Initial figures of 40% cuts would cause forces to fail. All forces will struggle to provide any real sort of police engagement with such staggering cuts.

25% may be a possibility… This is still a massive cut and will still drag service delivery back into the 1980’s.

Will the terribly sad situation in Paris help to save the service here?

Certainly senior politicians across all parties (even the mayor of London), are calling on the Government not to cut the police service at this time. Finally politicians are seeing the value and the need of the police to keep them safe.

But any cuts will weaken our ability to keep the public safe. Cuts to budgets simply mean less officers. And all you get with less, is… less.

Draconian cuts will fundamentally alter how we deliver the service in the future. We police by consent and with the public. Unlike many other policing models across Europe and further afield, we engage with our citizens from all backgrounds.

That’s the strength of the service, the best service in the world according to the Home Secretary. The irony of this is not lost on all within the service as she systematically goes about dismantling it brick by brick, and taking us back 30 years.

So what will be the impact?

Cuts will mean that we have to move form a pro-active engagement style of policing, to a more reactive service in order to meet the demand with so many less officers.

The public will get an emergency service delivering simply an emergency service.

This we start the process of moving away from law engagement model to a more law enforcement model, where policing is simply done to the community rather than in conjunction with communities. This is going back 30 plus years and policing the demand and complexity of 2015 with 1980’s numbers and capability.

Neighbourhood policing will be severely diminished. Now is not the time to scale back in this area. It is the bedrock of our policing model. We engage and adopt our services to meet communities needs, we are inclusive and reduce tensions a d alienation. Despite what the media would have you believe , we have the overwhelming trust of the public, who give us intelligence and this in turn helps us to keep them safe and identify those who would cause harm.

If we reduce Neighbourhood Policing we risk disengagement with with communities and it will give an opportunity for those with criminal or worst intent to fill that void.

Our greatest work is that we are pro-active and stop crime and terrorist plots through community engagement. We can all see examples of where policing is not done with our model of engagement and they react to situations rather than prevent them.

Whatever happens police officer at all levels will face the challenge and try to make it work. It’s what we do.

Cuts do have consequences. Now is not the time to play fast and loose with public safety.

Now the time is to invest and keep that pro-active focus, allow us to engage with the public we portcullis and serve. There is a choice to be made, and the public are quite clear in they want. Let’s see if the politicians listen…

Nick Smart
Chairman
West Yorkshire Police Federation

Date posted: November 20, 2015

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