‘Perfect storm’ in policing has already struck
Today’s announcement by the Superintendents’ Association of a ‘perfect storm’ on the horizon for policing isn’t a warning, it’s a firm reality. That is the view of the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), Steve White.
Addressing the Policing Minister Nick Hurd on the first day of their annual conference today (Monday 4 September 2017) Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, will highlight how policing services across the country are now routinely based on fewer people working more hours and days, an unsustainable position in the face of increasing demand.
Steve White said: “The warnings have been and gone, we’re firmly in the throes of the storm described. Despite our member’s unyielding resolve to get the job done and keep the public safe, increasing and changing demand is proving simply too much.
“The results of our own Pay and Morale survey, released last week, showed that over two thirds of respondents (72.2 per cent) reported an increase in their workload in the last 12 months, with 62.2 per cent saying it was too high.”
The announcement by the Superintendents’ Association and the results of the Federation’s Pay and Morale survey come less two months after annual crime statistics and workforce data further evidenced the pressures on policing. The figures revealed a 10 per cent increase in police recorded crime with significant rises in violent crime including knife and gun crime. This was set against workforce data that showed forces are trying to meet demand with the lowest number of police officers since 1985.
Gavin Thomas will urge the Policing Minister and police leaders to review, with the public, what policing should and should not be expected to do, and make decisions on funding and resources based on this.
Mr White said: “We have long said the government must involve the public more in asking what it wants from the service and echo the call from the Superintendents’ Association to consider this in decisions on funding and resources.”
At the same time the Association revealed figures that showed their members are suffering under the pressures of the job with half experiencing symptoms of anxiety and 27 per cent symptoms of depression.
The results echo those of the Federation’s own survey in 2016 which showed that more than a quarter of officers who have taken sick leave attributed it to stress, depression or anxiety, while 65 per cent said they still went to work even though they felt they shouldn’t have because of the state of their mental wellbeing.