Fewer emergency workers keeping people of Sheffield safe than a decade ago

Fewer emergency workers are keeping the people of Sheffield safe than a decade ago, figures suggest.

By Federica Bedendo
Saturday, 13th November 2021, 9:38 am

While the country is still responding to the coronavirus pandemic, police, fire and ambulance staff unions are calling for more funding to protect frontline services.

Home Office and NHS Digital figures show the equivalent of 4,152 full-time emergency workers were employed by organisations covering Sheffield this year – 19 per cent fewer than in 2011.

Read More

Read More
South Yorkshire Police Federation warns officers 'have never been under so much ...
There are calls for more emergency workers in South Yorkshire

Among them were the 2,181 frontline police officers in South Yorkshire Police's ranks as of March 31 – 17 per cent fewer than at the same point in 2011, when there were 2,632 full time equivalent officers.

Across England, the number of officers has dropped by five per cent in the last decade.

Different Home Office figures show that across South Yorkshire, the number of crimes recorded by police increased by 45 per cent, from 102,741 in 2010-11, to 148,683 in 2019-20.

The figure fell to 130,562 in 2020-21, when crime levels nationally were impacted by coronavirus lockdowns.

The Police Federation, which represents officers, said the Government's promise of 20,000 new officers by the end of 2023 does not go far enough.

A spokesman said: “An increase in the number of police officers is desperately needed, particularly given that the population in England and Wales has grown by four million in the last decade.

“In addition, the time officers spend dealing with non-crime issues, helping vulnerable people and those in mental health crises, has also increased.”

Meanwhile, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue had the equivalent of 603 full-time firefighters responding to emergencies as of the end of March – 234 fewer than in 2011.

Around 9,500 firefighters were lost across England over the same period – a 23 per cent drop – with every fire and rescue service experiencing reductions.

While the number of incidents attended overall has steadily been declining nationally, the response time to fires has increased.

The Fire Brigades Union, which represents firefighters, said anyone working in the public sector frontline would agree that “austerity is not over”.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said the sector had been calling for new funding for years.

He added: “For fire and rescue, every pound cut from our budget means a greater likelihood of smaller crew numbers, fire stations shutting, and the loss of resources such as fire engines.

“In turn this all means longer response times to incidents, and a greater risk to lives, property, heritage and the environment.”

Decreases were also seen for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which saw its ambulance staff numbers fall 16 per cent from 1,628 in September 2011, to 1,368 as of July this year.

But the NHS Digital figures show the number of ambulance staff operating in trusts across England dropped by three per cent in 10 years.

Unison, which represents ambulance workers, said fewer staff means lengthy waits for ambulances.

Colm Porter, the union's national ambulance officer, said: “Queuing ambulances outside hospitals and long patient delays have become the norm.”

The Government said it had “consistently” given emergency services the resources they need to keep people safe.

A spokesman added: “We have recruited more than half of the promised 20,000 additional police officers, invested £2.3 billion this year to support the work of firefighters and NHS England have given ambulance trusts an extra £55 million to boost staff numbers ahead of winter.”