Another round of depressing headlines about Chief Constables stating that their Forces no longer have the resources they need to do all that is being asked and expected of them.
Another round of deeply disturbing headlines about police officers being attacked in the street. The accompanying film footage is too much for me to watch.
I have never known times remotely like these – and it set me thinking about all that has disappeared from policing in the last eight years.
The list is staggering:
I. The loss of 44,000 police officers and staff in England & Wales.
Say that number out loud a couple of times and let it sink in.
II. The loss of neighbourhood policing.
III. The loss of more than 600 police stations.
IV. The loss of specialist frontline policing resources – so critical in the fight against crime. Obvious examples include:
V. The loss of frontline proactive policing capability – as experienced officers are moved away from patrol teams and local crime squads, into Counter-Terrorism and specialist investigatory roles.
VI. The loss of confidence amongst some frontline officers in the legitimate (and absolutely essential) use of their Stop & Search Powers.
VII. The loss of significant operational independence from political control – not least through the introduction of elected Police & Crime Commissioners.
VIII. The loss of hard-won reductions in serious and violent crime
IX. The loss of respect – in some quarters at least – for police officers and the role that they perform in society:
There are serious long-term consequences to the short-term cuts of the last eight years. The following facts bear repeating:
Austerity was a conscious, deliberate political choice. And so were its consequences. There is now an overwhelmingly urgent need for reinvestment in frontline policing. And, even then, it may take a generation to repair the damage done.