As a retired police officer I have a sense of loyalty to the job I used to do and a great deal of respect for those that do the job today. Despite what people may think and what the government would have you believe the vast majority of cops are trying their best to protect us members of the public from crime and its consequences.
They also spend a huge amount of time papering over some of the cracks in our society and dealing with tragedies that fortunately most people do not have to deal with in their day-to-day life.
Today we can all gain an insight into that world through blogs such as) constablechaos, Minimum Cover (note the first two blogs do not make happy reading ) & The custody record, to name a few and there are many more.
Sometimes these insights provide a graphic description of the type of situations they deal with in their work and if you read those first two blogs you will know that it’s not always rosy. In reality policing is not a rosy world.
The #antiwinsornetwork is one of a number of social media initiatives to help get the message across that policing in the UK is as I see it under enormous threat from the current governments proposals. Some of the proposals are about pay and conditions based on a somewhat dodgy report written by Tom Winsor. This itself is based on the (Sheehy) report and David Cameron’s own vision for policing, which he spoke about in 2006 (based on his work as part of the Sheehy team) and which is reflected entirely in the Winsor report.
But the #antiwinsornetwork is about much more than that, its about 20% cuts to policing which means fewer and fewer officers on patrol. Its very rare I see one now and in the future that rare sighting may become so novel that people will stop and stare in amazement and children will ask “whats that”.
I know that not everyone is reassured by the sight of a police officer but I think the majority of the public are and so the reduction of visible policing, the closing of police stations, the increasing response times, the overall reduction in police numbers all add to a nagging doubt that I have about what will happen should I need to call them one day.
It is also about the partial replacement of the office of constable (an independent, non political, non-profit role) by private companies who will undertake many of the basic duties currently delivered by police officers but who also have to run at a profit.
There is nothing wrong with making a profit in fact its vital for our economy but in reality there is not much profit to be made from policing and so my fear is that many of the jobs that police officers do (that do not get reported) will not get done and those papered over cracks will open wide without the safety net of the police to catch those unfortunate enough to fall through them for whatever reason.
The police are one of the four main 24 hour emergency services, of these they have the widest remit and are often called upon to support the other three. Alongside the fire brigade, ambulance service and casualty department, who are also being cut back – they are there 24/7 365 days of the year and we underestimate their value at our peril.
That is why I am part of the #antiwinsornetwork .