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All experiments have variables, all actions have consequences. Something this Government ought to have at the forefront of their mind as they walk down this untried road. No doubt we will be accused of scaremongering, but this is too important an issue to remain silent. The Coalition are about to roll the dice and it would be irresponsible not to speak out

Previous pragmatic approaches to policing seem to have fallen by the wayside. Crime figures were falling while police officer numbers were rising. The hard work of the world’s finest police force has come leaps and bounds over the past decade. Yet this Government wants to reverse this trend and undo all the hard work.

Their ill-conceived and indeed naïve policy will undoubtedly have serious ramifications.  This is not the first time I have said this and I doubt it will be the last. Listen to the voices of experience, voices like Chief Superintendent Keith Hunter from Humberside who said the Government are creating “a perfect storm - people are being made redundant, unemployment is going up, offenders aren't going to prison for as long and the probation service has been slashed”. Whichever way you cut it, the government is playing Russian roulette with the safety and welfare of the British public.

In all other areas of coalition policy they have emphasised “evolution not revolution”. Why not in policing? For us it is solely revolution. We are often accused of being the last unreformed service, this is an unashamed deception. We have been at the forefront of championing police reform since our creation by statute of Parliament. This is why we have been calling for a Royal Commission into policing all these years. This would allow us to have a holistic answer to what the public expects and needs of a modern police force.

The solution does not emanate from viewing from a criminals’ perspective.  I ask the coalition to put themselves in the shoes of a victim of crime, an ordinary member of the public, a police officer.  It is from this real perspective that the solution lies. When 86% of police officers in England and Wales say that they believe crime will rise as a direct consequence of the cuts they do not say it flippantly, when 91% of them believe that the level of service the police provide will decline they do not say it out of hand. I implore the coalition to listen to the men and women who do this job day in day out.

We accept that we have to take our fair share of cuts but not to the detriment of the service as a whole and for officers personally.  The officers we represent are facing long and prolonged hardship.  How much more can we take?

This coalition seems oblivious to the growing unrest in society, the increase in public disorder and the consequences.  The increased activity of Irish Republican dissidents and the recent death of several leading Al Qaeda militants has increased the terrorist threat level in the UK.   The scale of the forthcoming Olympics presents an unprecedented challenge to a service already under immense pressure.  We are told to focus on purely fighting crime but as we keep telling them, there is so much more to policing than simply dealing with crime.  With more demands and less resources, what is the fate of the communities we serve?

It was once famously said that a battle plan never survives first contact with the enemy. I fear the same for the Government’s policies and the consequences for the British public and the future of policing.

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Written by Paul McKeever   
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 08:23
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 August 2011 08:34

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Dr Elaine McMahon CBE, Chief Executive and Principal, Hull College, Chair, Association of Colleges Sustainable Futures Group



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