Operational decisions are not easy to make

South Yorkshire PCC Dr Alan Billings
South Yorkshire PCC Dr Alan Billings
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Your correspondent Anne Johnson and others are quite right in saying that anti-social behaviour and crime such as burglaries are all distressing and must be tackled.

But they miss out on one critical factor: police numbers.

For the past five years, government grant for policing has been reduced year on year.

As a consequence, the number of police officers, (as well as other staff), that could be employed in South Yorkshire has fallen.

In 2010 there were 2952. For the coming year there will be 2494 and by 2020, on current trends, there will be 2399.

This means that there are fewer officers to deal with incidents as the police, therefore, have to make operational decisions about how to respond.

Some incidents will be dealt with immediately – serious crimes – others will receive less priority.

These are operational decisions for the police - and some are not easy to make.

But most people would accept that if there is a bank robbery going on in Rotherham - as there was recently - officers have to go there ahead of an instance of anti-social behaviour.

What I try to do as Police and Crime Commissioner is maximise the amount of funding available to police officers.

This is partly why we are making savings by closing some old and underused police stations.

The money is better spent on officers.

I have also said that for the next four years we will keep Police Community Support Officer numbers at 225.

PCSOs are often good at managing situations that can develop in to more serious cases of anti-social behaviour or crime.

All crimes and anti-social behaviour matter.

Unfortunately at a time of fewer resources there will be a degree of prioritisation.

Dr Alan Billings

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner