UK Population Growth Outpacing Police Resources

UK Population Growth Outpacing Police Resources

UK Population Growth Outpacing Police Resources

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has cited population growth as one of the key factors affecting the ability of the police force to deal with rising crime in the United Kingdom.

Steve Hartshorn, the National Chair of the PFEW, released a statement on its website following the airing, on January 8, of the latest episode of the BBC’s investigative documentary series Panorama, Will My Crime Be Solved. The episode highlighted criminal cases in which police investigations appeared inadequate and the victims of each crime felt let down by the police response.

Mr Hartshorn noted that whilst the journalist went to lengths to rightly highlight the impact of these crimes on the victims, and appeared to shine a light on police response and investigation inadequacies, what was missing was an explicit expression of the root causes that have led to such failings.

The documentary programme correctly identified that recorded crimes in the UK have increased by 65 per cent in the past decade, a period which also saw a reduction in police numbers of 20,000, and a selling off of police buildings. This same period has also seen a population increase of 8%.

Hartshorn insists that this is the broad picture that should inform all assessments of police capabilities and capacity. He stresses that the police force is facing the highest levels of recorded crime and whilst the Home Office claims that the number of police officers are at a record high, the damage done by over a decade of under-investment, poor recruitment and increased demand, leaves the force seriously under-resourced.

Although the British government claims that crime in the UK is falling, a more detailed and considered examination of crime figures, as the Panorama journalist points out, highlights that car thefts have almost doubled and violent crime has trebled, and that crime statistics reported by each regional police force are at record levels.

The Home Office claim regarding record high numbers of police officers is also misleading according to Mr Hartshorn. The last decade has witnessed the highest levels of police resignations year on year, an increasing workload for an increasingly inexperienced workforce – 30 per cent of frontline officers this year will have under 5 years’ experience – and the lowest police morale on record. The police force has received reduced funding, real-terms pay cuts, whilst experiencing increased political pressure over performance results.

Hartshorn urges that PFEW members should not be blamed for the compassion fatigue they experience when they are so over stretched and with minimal resources, unable to adequately handle outstanding call lists and file backlogs. As highlighted by Panorama, an additional 18,000 officers are needed just to keep up with UK population growth over the last decade.

Cuts have consequences, states Mr Hartshorn, claiming that what we are witnessing today is the consequences of years of government underfunding. He is adamant that the victims of crime deserve better, as do Police Federation members.

Harry Redgrave is the Chief Executive of Crest Advisory, a think tank dedicated to improving justice, policing and public safety. He pointed out: “The level, nature and severity of crime have all shifted dramatically in the past decade. The police service is overwhelmed by the level of demand it is facing.”

Redgrave added: “Should the increase in the level of demand since 2010 determine the number of officers needed, we would need an additional 100,000 police officers.”

UK population growth outpacing police resources
Steve Hartshorn insists that the police should not be blamed for being over-stretched and that, as highlighted by the BBC's Panorama, an additional 18,000 officers are needed just to keep up with UK population growth.

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