The Government needs to urgently invest in the police service for it to meet the demands of modern-day policing.
That’s the call from Dyfed Powys Police Federation secretary Roger Webb.
Roger, who was responding to Sir Tom Winsor, the chief inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and his 10-year view of policing, set out in State of Policing.
Roger said policing was “playing catch-up” with criminals after a decade of austerity and needed investment now for it to meet the public’s expectations.
“Sir Tom’s review says that policing has come a long way in the last 10 years but, rightly, that there’s still work to do,” said Roger
“Imagine how much further policing would have come without the austerity cut backs and underinvestment of the last 10 years. Instead we’re playing catch-up.
“We need that investment now to ensure we can adapt to the ever-changing nature of crime and meet the needs of the public.”
In his final report after almost a decade in post, Sir Tom commended the courage and commitment of police officers and staff.
He described how online crime is now the most prevalent type of crime; that public expectations can’t be met without sufficient funding and that the advancement in technology had provided opportunities for police but they’ve sometimes struggled to keep pace with criminals.
His report also drew attention to the load placed on police by “the chronically insufficient public provision of treatment of mental ill-health”, as well as the need for improved vetting of officers and staff, the state of the criminal justice system, and the system of police accountability.
Sir Tom said: “In the past 10 years, the police service has come a long way. Critical advances have been made in several fields of policing, including domestic abuse, child protection, the quality of some investigations, relations with the public and workforce diversity. Police officers and staff have a very great deal of which to be proud.
“But major shortcomings in policing persist, and these need to be addressed. Criminality is often now complex and far more sophisticated, and investigations can take far longer. If the police continue to use 20th century methods to try to cope with 21st century technology, they will continue to fall further and further behind.
“The police service cannot meet 100 per cent of public expectations for, say, 70 per cent of their efficient cost. The public, through their elected representatives, must decide how much risk and harm they are prepared to accept, and whether they will pay more for higher levels of public safety.
“One of the most important things the police must do, especially in London, is to rebuild public trust, which has recently been damaged. Public confidence in the police is more than precious, it is essential.
“As I reflect on the past decade in policing, I commend the courage and commitment of police officers and staff across the country. The severity of the problems that our police service now faces should not be under-estimated, but the public should be reassured by the strong, pragmatic and professional approach of police officers and staff. They should stand in admiration of their fortitude and bravery in facing sometimes mortal danger and the worst things which happen to people and which people do to others.
“The public can, and must, trust the police.”
Roger added: “It’s most welcome that Sir Tom recognises the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of our members. We know there’s work to do to regain and retain public trust, but the vast majority of officers and staff are committed to serving the public and go to great lengths to do that, often putting their own lives and wellbeing to do so.”