At a point when British policing actually needs to display a united front, probably now more than ever before, elements of the police in England and Wales are (unwittingly) placing their heads on the government’s chopping block of cuts and so-called public sector reform…
Immediately after the Chancellor’s recent budget delivery, many within policing breathed a sigh of relief, no more cuts to policing, thankfully. There was still going to be a cap on public sector pay rises of 1%, extended for a further year to 2015-16. In addition, a think-tank (and we all have an opinion about them) suggested that; “any further spending cuts by government departments have in effect been put off until 2015-16” (perhaps not coincidentally until after the next election).
…austerity will tighten from 2015-16 as public sector worker National Insurance contributions rise sharply…(Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies)
The usual budget bitter pill was sweetened slightly by small concessions such as, the cancellation of a fuel duty increase and the reduction in tax on beer however; it appears that any light relief and additional breathing space, which most of us were thankful for, was even more short-lived than many of us had (naively) expected.
The Armed Forces and the police will face further spending cuts because the Coalition will not sanction any more reductions to welfare payments, senior Treasury minister Danny Alexander has warned…(telegraph.co.uk)
There are clear indications of a disagreement within government on where further spending cuts should fall. The first duty of government is the protection of its citizens, and as we approach a spending review which will impact on the next election, the use of policing as a political football is outrageous. Any further cuts to policing budgets will inevitably lead to less protection for our communities despite our officers’ best efforts. There is only so much we can do…(Steve White, Vice-Chair PFEW)
With all the austerity turmoil set to be in place for some time yet, the recent decision by the Constables Central Committee (CCC) of the PFEW is, in my opinion, a little short-sighted to say the least. Despite understanding the angst of many Constables across England and Wales, now is not the time for any fractures within police staff associations.
In deciding to suspend funding to the PFEW joint fund, in relation to their views on the decision about an internal independent review of PFEW, the CCC may be making a stand and adding substance to their voice of concern however; their stand is probably a dangerous one. It is also a move which actually plays into the hands of the government’s ‘divide and conquer’ methodology!
Things ain’t going to get any easier any time soon… We all need to address not only the negative impacts upon our jobs but also, the bigger picture of how those impacts are (potentially) damaging our society as a whole. Any fragmentation of what is mostly (arguably) a united and strong voice will actually prove to be counter-productive in the long-term. Now is really not the time for internal wranglings or overt militancy and posturing, simply to make a point.
As Syreeta Lund, Editor of POLICE, the monthly magazine of the PFEW pointed out recently; these are undoubtedly Uncomfortable Times not just for policing but also, many other areas of the public sector and our wider society.
For the first time in my lifetime I have seen the proliferation of food banks – people who are in such poverty that they are turning up for boxes of groceries because they cannot afford to feed themselves and their families. The economic climate is bleak…(Syreeta Lund)
With all the economic and organisational crap that is currently taking place; is fragmentation of any group that seeks to challenge our government about (arguably) misguided policy, really a viable or sensible solution? It simply allows that government to proceed unchecked, often to the benefit of the few at the expense of the majority.
As the provision and management of policing services becomes increasingly difficult and is subjected to even greater scrutiny and financial constraint, thankfully some of the federated ranks arch-enemies are becoming a lot less insular and self-serving in their approach to many of the issues involved. Various members of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Police Superintendent’s Association of England & Wales (PSAEW) are now thankfully, all be it belatedly, starting to look at the bigger policing picture.
Ch Supt Irene Curtis, President Elect of the PSAEW, recently gave an interview to the Federation’s Police Magazine. She spoke about the need for changes to police ‘culture’ and also called for changes to the predominant and damaging ’bean-counting’ management that currently exists within policing. I have followed Irene Curtis for some time now on Twitter (@barrackslass), much of what she has to say makes a refreshing change and (in my opinion) tends to bode well for the future management of policing.
Now that some of the senior ranks are finally starting to see that our police service isn’t simply a conduit for their personal career aspirations and jobs, perhaps there is a greater understanding of how professional and effective policing underpins and the quality of life we all hope to enjoy within our society. We deserve to receive the best possible police service, we all pay handsomely enough to hold that expectation!
- London cops slam ‘ignored’ votes on right to strike (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Thousands of police vote to strike but not enough to take industrial action (dailymail.co.uk)
- Police ‘right to strike’ vote fails (bbc.co.uk)
- British Policing: The Engineer of It’s Own Demise? (bankbabble.wordpress.com)
Ironically, as National Police Memorial Day approaches, the country is once again reminded of the dedication to duty and courage displayed by our police officers. Although this annual event is organised to remember police officers who have been killed on duty, many of those outside of policing have no real comprehension of how dangerous it can be to be a police officer…
As the residents of Ashworth Lane in Mottram woke on Tuesday (18th Sep), their day of expected normality, and that of those employed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), was shattered by the killing of two of their police officers, see Timeline of Events in Manchester Shootings (source BBC). Very quickly afterwards the media fuelled debate about the arming of British police officers hit the news stands at a pace.
But why don’t the British police carry guns: The BBC tried to answer this question after the deaths of the two female GMP constables, an event that once again brought into focus the unarmed status of most British police officers.
Despite the death of every officer (or anyone for that matter) being a sad event, which we should always be doing all we can to prevent, how big is this issue in reality? One violent death is one death too many however; is routinely arming all our police officers just another one of those simplistic knee-jerk reactions?
Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, has ruled out arming officers after the killing of two women constables. (BBC News)
Police Officer Shootings - The Facts – Source Police Roll of Honour
- 256 police officers have been shot and killed in the UK since 1945 and 21 have been stabbed to death.
- In England 51 were shot and 19 stabbed
- In Wales – none, in Scotland – four shot and two stabbed, in Northern Ireland – 201 shot
One thing was once clear - When asked, the vast majority of police officers used to say overwhelmingly that they wanted to remain unarmed.
A 2006 survey of 47,328 Police Federation members found 82% did not want officers to be routinely armed on duty, despite almost half saying their lives had been “in serious jeopardy” during the previous three years…(Source BBC)
It is a position shared by the Police Superintendents’ Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers but the British public are not nearly so unanimous. An ICM poll in April 2004 found 47% supported arming all police, compared with 48% against. During my service as a police officer I have been armed as part of my work that said, I would also be guarded against more widespread and routine arming of our police.
When you start examining many of the comments and observations, resulting from this week’s event, it (worryingly) appears many officers are now changing their opinion? Any further divide of police and public is in many ways, a step too far.
Much of the post event comment, especially from those outside the ‘police family’ is no more than political rhetoric, or worse, contrived and false concern. Words that are delivered to placate public opinion about the failings of our government and to an extent, the failings of our society as a whole. But words are inadequate, all be they born out of sadness, anger and/or revenge.
Sadly, many of us don’t want to understand any of the issues, or worse, we choose to ignore them because they have no real impact upon us as individuals but in reality they do. A violent assault on a police officer, or worse, is actually yet another attack on our society and it’s framework.
Mark Easton, home affairs editor at the BBC touched on the most important issue here when he wrote – The police are the public and vice versa. His article highlighted a cornerstone of British policing methods, one that used to make it work.
“The Police are only those members of the public paid full-time to do duties incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” ( Robert Peel)
These foundations are seen by some as archaic however; the decades of political interference, not to mention the almost constant media condemnation of policing have now taken their toll. As policing continues crumbling to dust, and much of the ‘historic’ framework of a solid effective process has been chipped away, is it any wonder that the whole bloody structure is destined for collapse?
British policing is (wrongly) described by many as the ‘last unreformed public service’ (see here) – but these people are wrong and our communities are suffering from what these critics have created. We’re harvesting the produce of seeds sown by the media, our politicians and, to an extent, many senior police officers, people who should have known better.
These factors, along with decades of ‘reform’ and political interference, have been responsible for creating the unsavory system we see now. The prominent Us & Them ethos and culture now so prevalent both in modern-day policing and our society, is responsible for driving a wedge between the two.
It is not an us and them! The duty to do right lies not just with the police but the public. It is the public and police doing right, against the tiny minority who break the law. That principle needs re-establishing. (comment to BBC article)
Without a substantial and expedient change in direction, I for one fear there will be even more violent assaults on police officers, and possibly deaths. But we can and must do more. We have to heal the gaping wound that is the separation of society and policing. It is this divide that is killing our communities, and responsible for the killings within it.
At York Minster on Sunday 30th September 2012, there will be a strong demonstration to relatives, friends and colleagues of fallen officers that their sacrifice is valued and will not be forgotten. Although the event will predominantly be attended by individuals from within policing (and other emergency services), we have to hope that events such as this serve to galvanise public desire to change our social direction
Importantly, we must not allow these violent murders to be any greater waste of life than they already are. PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, like other police officers, must be thanked and valued for their commitment and efforts into trying to make our society a better place – R.I.P. and thanks!
- Police should be routinely armed in wake of latest tragedy, say campaigners (telegraph.co.uk)
- Do not arm all police, says Sir Hugh Orde (independent.co.uk)
- Nick Clegg: Arming police would carry ‘considerable risks’ (standard.co.uk)