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Dorset PCC Supports Cuts Have Consequences Campaign

17th February 2015

PCC Martyn UnderhillToday, Dorset Police Federation becomes the 6th Police Federation (Polfed) team to join the inaugural Essex Police Federation campaign, “Cuts have Consequences”.

Of the 7 campaigns, Dorset is the first where the PCC shares the platform with Polfed, endorsing the campaign.

I have done this for several reasons:

•    The Dorset Polfed video is factual, and really highlights in a brief snapshot what consequences cuts can have.
•    Any campaign that informs the public of the issues has to be supported.
•    Any future cuts have the potential to effectively and significantly change policing in Dorset. The public need to know that.

As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am responsible for ensuring that Dorset Police is an efficient and effective Police Force. On behalf of the public, I set the strategy and provide the finance for the Chief Constable to deliver operational policing. The words “efficient and effective“ are really important, because nowhere in that expression does “public expectation” feature…nor do the words “Neighbourhood Policing.” More on that later.

The Force and I have absorbed the current cuts. We had to, the country was overdrawn at the bank, austerity called, and the police changed the way they did business to deliver the service with a fifth of the budget removed. As PCC I am proud that despite the cuts, by doing things differently and driving out savings, we have achieved a 20% drop in funding yet still ring-fenced PCSO’s and opened up police officer recruitment.

But the cuts have still hurt. We have lost staff. Our levels are now the same as in the 1980’s. But, of course, demand has rocketed. Child Sexual Exploitation, human trafficking, and honour based violence existed but were not given the requisite prominence it is today, add to that internet fraud and other cyber-crime and we can see crime is changing and becoming more complex to investigate. We have also lost buildings, and will continue to do so. I have always held the view that “losing bricks and mortar must come before losing cops”, especially as the Force has started rolling out its mobile data strategy this month, enabling officers and staff to work in the community at all times.

We have said all of this before, I mainly write this blog to say that it is the future cuts that worry me, not the past ones. If you examine the recent Institute for Fiscal Studies report, which has examined all major parties manifestos, it is clear that the Treasury may impose cuts of 6% per year, over the term of the next Parliament. That equates to a 41% cut in funding for Dorset Police from 2010 to 2019.And don’t forget we are already one of the lowest funded Forces per head of population. It equates to a huge amount of staffing being removed.

If the Force faces more cuts like that, PCSO numbers and Safer Neighbourhood Teams are hugely under threat. The whole neighbourhood policing model established over the last decade could go. That’s because the Chief Constable has to protect the public, has to prioritise “risk and harm” compared to crime prevention and public reassurance, which neighbourhood policing brings. The policing response to a 999 call, the policing response to an armed incident or policing the response to a rape allegation will always come before a bobby walking the beat.

The Cuts have Consequences campaign isn’t about politics, it’s an informative programme, highlighting and increasing public awareness.

What is political is that all politicians need to know, and so do the public, that if the cuts keep coming, policing in Dorset will change forever. Surely there are other areas where savings can be made which will impact less on the safety of our society. Time will tell.  

Thanks for reading this.

Martyn Underhill
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner

Posted by Martyn Underhill at 1:42pm

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