Public confidence in the police declining, say MPs

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Funding for police forces is down by nearly a fifth (19%) since 2010-11, with public confidence in the police “declining”, according to MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee report ‘Financial Sustainability of Police Forces in England and Wales’ revealed forces are operating with nearly 50,000 fewer members of staff, including 15% fewer officers, than in 2010.

The report claimed forces are taking longer to charge offences, are making fewer arrests, and are doing less neighbourhood policing

Forces are dealing with more incidents which are not crime related, at the same time as coping with fewer frontline staff, the report concluded. For example, Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Alison Hernandez, said around 80% of the local police work was about safeguarding and non-crime related activities.

She told the MPs on the committee there had been a clear shift over time towards a prevention and safeguarding role rather than crime-fighting.

“Forces cannot do everything and are prioritising their work by cutting back in some areas, such as neighbourhood policing meaning fewer officers on the street. Public confidence in the police is declining and officers’ personal resilience is under pressure with this reduction in visibility. Violent crime and sexual offences have increased and forces are dealing with more incidents which are not crime related, at the same time as coping with fewer frontline staff,” the report said.

ACS chief executive, James Lowman, said: “The Public Accounts Committee report highlights the increasing strain that police forces are under in the face of rising crime levels.

“The ACS Crime Report 2018 shows that the total cost of crimes committed against the convenience sector over the last year was £193m, which equates to a 7p ‘crime tax’ on every transaction in stores.

“Retailers and staff are facing violence, theft and abuse on a regular basis and it is important that they receive a consistent response from the police when these incidents occur.”

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