Constable’s Chair, Julie Nesbit, said today that despite Tom Winsor’s appointment as HMCIC being a done deal, all but guaranteed since his recommendation by Nick Herbert, we should not turn our backs on him, even if we are still feeling the pain caused by his recent reviews.
She said that:
It is a false economy and probably the worst thing we could do to not engage. After all, we must continue fight for our rights as police officers.
We are in a war focused on policing with many serious battles… and yes, I’m afraid we will take casualties on the way, but it is my honest professional and personal judgement that we can limit the casualties by warming relations with government and working to negotiate the most favorable settlement which is humanly possible.
This isn’t about rolling over and having our tummies tickled by politicians, nor cozying up to a system which has frankly let us down. It’s about taking the higher ground and minimising the potential for tit-for-tat retaliation from people who are in a position, at the moment, to do further harm, or conversely improve conditions in future.
Despite my feelings on the Winsor reviews, the mechanics behind the deals with G4S, the appointment of Nick Herbert as Police Minister and recent developments at HMIC, I can understand her point of view. Nothing will be gained by simply slamming the door on the only people who have the power to help us – despite who those people might be.
I am a curious to see what Winsor will do when he gets his knees under his new desk after the Olympics, especially when a report published by HMIC today has outlined serious concerns about the ongoing impact of budgetary cuts on many Police Forces after the first year of austerity measures. Most concerning of all is the statement that three forces (Devon and Cornwall, Lincolnshire and even the omnipotent Metropolitan Police) may not be in a position to provide a ‘sufficiently efficient or effective service’ in the future. These concerns are reinforced by confirmation that approximately 5,800 Police officers would be in front line posts by 2015.
Devon and Cornwall have recorded a 3% rise in crime since December 2010 despite falling £2m short of their budget targets – an issue that was predicted by many but brushed off by Teresa May. Further north, Lincolnshire Police have also fallen short of the required reductions. Despite relentless efficiency drives, privatisation deals with G4S and other cuts they are still falling £3m per year short of the required savings.
Unfortunately, the depth of the cuts required will prove more and more difficult to maintain over the next two years. Payroll will, no doubt, become a more and more attractive target, representing a huge proportion of any forces budget. Once all the other corners have been cut, there will be nowhere else to go. Yvette Cooper, Shadow home secretary spoke about the problems created, saying ‘By going too far and too fast, the government is putting police services at risk – putting communities at risk’.
So, once all the medals are won and the athletes have gone home, Winsor will start his new job and, ironically, begin to analyse the results of his meddling. I wait with a slightly morbid interest to see what he will do to correct problems caused by his previous antics – problems that will surely increase over time.