The reality of the policing demand in the North East
In a snapshot of activity this morning, Thursday 21 September 2017, the seven forces across the North East were dealing with over 4000 outstanding calls for service or open incidents, 144 missing persons and 269 prisoners in custody, painting a picture of the demand officers and staff face on a daily basis.
Peter Musgrave, chair of Humberside Police Federation, said:
“These figures of a typical midweek day show that demand is massively outstripping resources. Before we start every day, we are playing catch up in terms of dealing with calls. It’s not just about crime, it is also the impact of having to look for missing vulnerable people, mental health call that places a huge burden on already stretched resources.
“Despite the political rhetoric from Government, we are not just crime fighters. We are picking up the burden of many other areas of work from other agencies. This is against a backdrop of continually reducing numbers. The savage cuts imposed on the police service are bringing the service to its knees. We are going back to the days of reactive only policing of the mid 1980’s. This is not good for the service or the public. I am grateful that both my Chief Constable and PCC are investing significantly in recruitment. A lot of my regional colleagues are not in the same position”
In July, figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) further outlined the demand on police, showing that recorded crime increased by 10% nationally in the previous twelve months with an 18% rise in violent crime.
At the same time, workforce data revealed a further fall of nearly 1,000 officers in the previous twelve months leaving forces to manage with the lowest number of officers since 1985.
In the North East officer numbers have reduced by 19% since 2010 with the loss of 3,736 officers across the region (19,673 to 15,937).
Increasing and unrealistic workloads set against a backdrop of increased crime and reducing officer numbers is taking its toll on police officers in the North East.
Combined figures from the Police Federation of England and Wales’ recent pay and morale survey showed that on average, 60 per cent of officers in the North East were experiencing low morale. How police are treated as a whole and workload and responsibility were two of the most significant contributory factors.
South Yorkshire Police (68.3 per cent) and Cleveland Police (65 per cent) had the second and fifth highest number of respondents reporting low morale in England and Wales.
Durham (85.6 per cent) and South Yorkshire (83.2 per cent) were ranked one and two for respondents that stated their workload had increased in the last twelve months, with two other North East forces, Humberside and Northumbria, featuring in the top ten. On average 70 per cent of officers in the North East said their workload was too high.
Perhaps most worrying is that whilst 63% of officers in the region are proud to work for the police, 68% would not recommend joining the police service.
Helen Collier, Secretary of Humberside Police Federation said:
“There is real anger and upset from officers regarding the recent pay award announcement. The 2 per cent award consists of a one per cent pensionable pay rise plus a one per cent non-pensionable additional amount. This falls short of the 2.9 per cent rate of inflation and equates to a real terms pay cut for officers of 16 per cent since 2009/2010.
“The Government’s pay award has to be to partly be funded form existing police budgets. This means in reality that the Chief Constable has to pay for it out of his current budget. This will have a potential impact on recruiting, and reduce police officer numbers in the region further to pay for this underhand Government pay award. All this does is weaken the police service further to deal with demand and lower morale. Police Officers deserve to be remunerated fairly for the job that they do”