We all have to make economies sometimes, but police cutbacks are a scary thought – less staff doing more work for longer periods, just when the force faces fresh challenges alongside increased petty crimes, could be a false economy.
Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, president of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, calls the plans “fundamentally flawed”, and wants a rethink, insisting that public safety must come first. Latest Government crime figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales do show a fall, but it’s based on victim’s experiences and doesn’t give a complete picture.
In a poll of 900, only 27% of members believed that they had adequate resources, while half felt stressed and a quarter suffered from depression. The association wants more backing to monitor the health of officers, and to ensure a fairer distribution of work and responsibility.
Home Office minister Nick Hurd points to the £1.5 million allocated to the mental health charity MIND to support emergency service workers after recent tragedies. However, politicians tend to be drawn to high-profile cases, whereas the police have to deal with distressing incidents on a daily basis, and could end up feeling under-valued.
The Notting Hill Carnival is one event where the force aims for a low-profile presence, and arrests were down this year. Not everyone was happy though. Some argued that the fall was due to the 656 arrests made during the three weeks beforehand, with grime artist Stormzy asking pointedly if this procedure was followed before Glastonbury too. And the Metropolitan Police Federation complained that statistics hid the injuries incurred by its officers.
On a positive note, fifteen young people, assessed as being susceptible to bad influences during the carnival, were treated to a water sports weekend-away; and it was emotional hugs all round for the emergency services after a moment’s silence for the victims of the recent Grenfell fire in the borough.
It seems that airport staff aren’t always as diligent as the boys in blue, though. Michael Randall, who has short dark hair, recently flew to Berlin with his partner’s passport by mistake. Like everyone else, he was shocked – as he pointed out, the long fair tresses in her photograph should have given the game away.