The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) responds to Channel 4’s Dispatches programme which appears to show that forces are so overstretched that nearly a million crimes are not being fully investigated.
PFEW chair John Apter said: “At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I find myself wondering why there is a sharp intake of breath every time new crime figures come out.
“We have been warning for some time of the impending crisis in policing, which is now here. It is impossible to ignore the fact that we now have nearly 22,000 fewer police officers in England and Wales since 2010 – that’s a drop of 15% and is the lowest number of officers since 1996.
“It is not a coincidence that over this period crime, particularly violent crime, has been rising. We simply don’t have the boots on the ground to cope with this explosion of crime, increases which have seen knife crime at an all-time high, up 16% over the past 12 months, murders up by 12% and robberies increased by 30%."
Mr Apter also pointed to the results of the Federation’s 2016 Demand, Capacity & Welfare survey which revealed that 66% of officers said their workload was too high and 58% felt they did not have enough time to do their job to a standard of which they could be proud.
He said: “That was more than two years ago; we have just closed our 2018 survey, with the results due out in the New Year. While I can’t claim to possess a crystal ball, I would be astonished if the results didn’t show a sharp increase in those figures as police forces are struggling more than ever to keep up with the demand, and it is our members who are at the sharp end.
“They want to do the best they can for the public – that’s what they joined up for. But they are frustrated because they don’t have the resources to do it.”
Mr Apter said the end result was an increasingly reactive service which had to focus on the most serious offences and those with the highest associated risks. He added: “We can’t keep continuing to ignore that what is needed most is an honest conversation about the type of service the public want their police to provide, given the current funding constraints and knock-on effect on forces’ ability to fight crime.”