I have been thinking about this in relation to Warwickshire constabulary – the force that is responsible for policing the area where I live and believe that the current and future reductions in police officer numbers will have a negative impact on crime in Warwickshire and that the short term savings will result in a long term increase in crime.
In the last 12 months Warwickshire has lost 75 officer and now has a total of 844 police officers. That is it there are no more just 844 in total from Constable to Chief Constable and all ranks in between uniform and detective.
According to Alan Plaskitt a prospective PCC for Warwickshire the HMIC report predicts that frontline officers will fall from 810 to 670 by 2015.
The Warwickshire specific briefing from the HMIC makes sobering reading.
“The force is planning to cut its total workforce number (i.e. police officers, police staff and police community support officers) by 350 between March 2010 and March 2015.
170 of these will be police officer posts; this means there will be 17% fewer
officers in Warwickshire (compared with a 10% average officer reduction
across England and Wales).
By 2015 70% of its workforce will be on the front line. This is a lower
proportion than in most other forces.”
My conclusion is that 20% cuts across the board are having a disproportionate impact upon Warwickshire. Larger forces are more able to absorb the cuts than smaller ones and as Warwickshire is one of the smallest the cuts are have a larger impact.
Assuming that Warwickshire maintains its current 5 shift pattern and retains its 5 geographic policing areas there will be a maximum of 132 frontline officers on duty on any one day across the county and 22 per geographical area.
It remains to be seen whether the reduction in frontline officers will lead to an increase in crime however that reduction will result in a decrease in police on the streets of Warwickshire. This will make it easier for criminals to operate because there is less chance that they will encounter a police officer and so the deterrent effect of policing is lost.
A good example of what I mean is provided by a BBC news item where a stop in Scotland for using a mobile phone while driving led to the seizure of Cocaine worth around £614000. It could be argued that if the cocaine had not been found then no crime would have been recorded – however the knock on effect of that would have been more drugs on the street resulting in more addiction and therefore more crime to buy the drugs to feed the habit.
Quite simply less Police on patrol results in more opportunity for criminals, more crime, more victims and less justice.