OPINION: Picking up the pieces

The Star: Opinion
The Star: Opinion
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Ask your average man or woman on the street what the police do and most will say ‘fight crime’.

Not any more it seems.

Today the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police tells us his officers spend just 25 per cent of their time investigating crime because they are too busy ‘mopping up’ after other agencies.

That’s a shockingly small amount of time.

The criminals of South Yorkshire must be having a field day.

It means for 75 per cent of their day police officers are doing work other than that for which they presumably joined the service in the first place – locking up criminals.

Chief Constable David Crompton says the police have become the ‘service of last resort’ with officers having to pick up the pieces because of swingeing budget cuts in other public services.

If a suicidal person is standing on top of a tall building at 2am threatening to jump, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s the beat bobby who will be called out because those nice well-paid mental health professionals are no doubt tucked up all nice, cosy in their warm beds, looking forward to another 9 to 5 day.

On top of these extra responsibilities officers are being expected to cut crime against a backdrop of £50 million in budget cuts over the next four years.

The force is also being investigated over the way it deals with child sexual exploitation and the Hillsborough Disaster inquests are looming.

It can’t be a great time to be a police officer, that’s for sure.

But it’s not just the police service which is struggling – all our public services are suffering.

Paramedics in Yorkshire went on strike on Saturday over plans to change their shift patterns, firefighters have taken industrial action in recent months to protect their pensions, the Probation Service is at risk of being broken up and part privatised and morale is low in both the NHS and the teaching professions. When will this recession ever end?