Cuts have reduced forces’ ability to fight crime, says Federation secretary

15 August 2022

The secretary of Dyfed Powys Police Federation has highlighted the impact of austerity after a new report raised concerns opportunities were being missed in investigations into burglary, robbery and theft.

Roger Webb said that cuts to police officer numbers and budgets are impacting forces’ ability to prevent and detect crime.

He was speaking after the publication of a new report on burglary, robbery and theft from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services(HMICFRS).

Roger said: “The report makes for difficult reading in places. These crimes have a real impact on our communities and the people we serve.

“But as a Federation we’ve warned for years that cuts to police numbers and underinvestment in the service would have real-world impact on people.

“Our members are facing ever-increasing demands on their time, ever-increasing workloads, and it’s not only impacting on their ability to prevent and detect crime, but it’s impacting on their wellbeing as well.

“We desperately need investment now to recruit the best, to retain our experienced officers, and to bring the service right up-to-date so that we can best serve our communities.”

The report found:

  • Forces are missing opportunities to identify and catch offenders, from the moment a member of the public reports the crime to the point where a case is finalised;
  • Police are not doing all they can to help victims when they report crimes – in 71 percent of the burglary reports examined, police personnel did not give victims any advice on crime-scene preservation during the initial call;
  • Forces lack investigative capacity and capability to effectively tackle burglary, robbery and theft, often because of the national detective shortage and inexperience; and
  • Investigations are not being appropriately or thoroughly supervised, with a third of cases examined having insufficient evidence of proper supervision.

HMICFRS has recommended that by March 2023, all police forces should ensure:

  • Their crime-scene management practices adhere to the authorised professional practice on managing investigations for burglary, robbery and theft; and
  • These investigations are subject to effective supervision and direction.

Roger reissued his call for a multi-year funding settlement, which would allow forces to make long-term plans to fight crime and prioritise areas such as burglary, robbery and theft.

He said: “I don’t think that the current year-to-year funding settlement is fit for purpose as it encourages short-term thinking.

“We need to move to a multi-year settlement – with much more money in the pot as well – so that we can identify, plan and prioritise areas for investment.”

Steve Hartshorn, the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), echoed Roger’s comments and said the Federation has been warning for years of the impact of cuts on policing.

He said: “Policing is in crisis due to a perfect storm of factors – many PFEW have been warning about repeatedly for a number of years, including, most significantly, that cuts would have dire consequences.

“We have sadly been found to be correct. It appears that despite the same messages from various reports and organisations over the years no action has been taken to prevent matters escalating and becoming worse.”

And he added his name to calls for a long-term funding settlement for forces.

Steve said: “Our members deserve more investment, better benefits and an appropriate integrated learning environment that equips them for the realities of policing.

“I would urge the Government to commit to a long-term, sustainable funding settlement, and review its outdated funding formula which contributes to this postcode lottery service for victims, which is unacceptable.

“A long-term plan would allow chief constables, police and crime commissioners and our partner agencies in policing to plan for the future and would also help efforts to put sustainable mentoring and training strategies in place so our officers can provide the very best service they themselves want to provide to the public.”

Speaking about the report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke said: “Burglary, robbery and theft are not minor crimes. They are crimes that strike at the heart of how safe people feel in their own homes or communities. The current low charge rates for these crimes are unacceptable and unsustainable – there needs to be a concerted drive to address this issue because it directly affects the public’s confidence in the police’s ability to keep them safe.”