We are currently in an era where money or lack of it is having a huge impact upon the policing landscape.
Last week saw the publication of two reports which will have a very significant effect on police officers terms and conditions for years to come.Â On Tuesday,Â Tom Winsor, the former rail regulator published his report into Police pay and conditions. This was followed by the Hutton report into public sector pensions.
In the space of a week, many officers have seen a future which is looking significantly worse than it was the week before. All of the public sector have been told to deal with a two year pay freeze and an increase in pension contributions, but seemingly uniquely, police officers also have to absorb a report into pay and conditions which will leave almost every officer worse off. This is I think much worse than most officers had expected, and has left many feeling a bit bewildered.
At the same time there has been an unprecedented campaign being carried out in the media, with many credible journalists repeating some tired claims, many of which are totally untrue. I will deal with some of them now;
I do not seek to say that there is not waste in the public sector, nor in policing, and the state of the finances is forcing us to look at things again.Â We should have been more aggressive in previous years, tackling waste where possible, and I suspect this is true of all public services.
My Dad is a builder who has to make a profit to survive and pay his bills, there is no room for sentiment in his world. Many practices in the public sector would not survive contact with the private sector, but this is not the whole story. Policing is a service,Â not a business, and it cannot be run like one. We need to be able to assess things based on risks toÂ and needs of the public, not on a cost onlyÂ basis. I once ran a hugely expensive operation targetting one man for months on end. He was a repeat strangerÂ rapist who used terrible violence on his victims. AllÂ the prisonÂ psychologists told us he would offend again upon his release. We eventually got him locked up for the rest of his life. Was this value for money based on a private sector costs analysis? Probably not. Was it the right thing to do? Definitely.
Police officers do not join for the pay. They join because they like locking up the bad people and helping the good. Police officers will I am sure continue to serve the public to the very best of their ability, irrespective of their terms and conditions. We do not have the right to strike, but even if we did, I do not think for a second that most officers would ever want to.
WhenÂ I joined the police service I never expected to find myself having to lead officers in this environment. We will step up to the challenge, but it is a funny old world at present.