Securing public safety is priceless, yet here in England austerity has led to cuts of £768 million by the end of March 2012 and the loss of 17,600 jobs.
There has been an additional spending cut on goods and services of around £185m during this same period, and the deployment of £28m of police service reserves, and by this March police forces are being forced to further reduce their workforce by 32,400, including 15, 000 frontline police officers.
The front line is defined by HMIC as being ‘those who have everyday contact with the public and who directly intervene to keep people safe and enforce the law’ and goods and services cuts amount to £474m. Despite these ‘savings’ there will be a shortfall of £302m in the total amount of savings ( £2.4bn) demanded by March 2015.
As a previous community safety manager with Sheffield City Council I was party to developing and extending upon community safety initiatives across the city and through this I gained direct insight and experience into matters of community issues and safety as well as at times presenting risks and policing needs and saw first-hand the sterling efforts being made by South Yorkshire Police Service to keep our communities safe and protected.
This work was far reaching and innovative and in 2011 as the drive to enforce cuts cascaded down from central government , paper exercises were undertaken across services to ‘rationale’ provision – much needed provision.
These research-based arguments showed the dreadful impact of the proposed ‘cuts’ went ignored nationally and here in South Yorkshire we have felt the losses hard.
On top of this we have been faced as tax payers alongside our South Yorkshire Police Service with footing the bill each and every time the far right has taken it upon themselves to come up from Luton or Kent and other better financed Southern areas, ‘dropping in’ on us in South Yorkshire.
The front line is not being protected, as the fact is, it is not being preserved nor invested in as it should be. Policing is changing and not for the better. Nor is it sustainable due to these drastic local and national cuts.