Cuts Watch #129: Police Jobs
Thousands of police jobs could be lost as a result of government cuts, according to independent research. The study, by Tim Brain (the former chief constable of Gloucestershire, now an academic at Cardiff University) for Police Review Magazine (subscription needed) forecasts that, if the police service received ‘average cuts’, somewhere between 11,500 and 17,000 jobs could be lost.
Mr Brain’s decision to assume that the Police will face average cuts is based on three factors:
- The Police budget is not ring-fenced like the NHS and development and it has not been promised limited protection, like education and defence.
- The Home Secretary has said that the police must expect their ‘fair share’ of cuts.
- There has been no guarantee that numbers will be protected.
In the ‘worst case’ up to 60,000 jobs could be lost. Mr Brain predicted that police forces would probably try to keep police officers and concentrate the cuts on civilian staff – but that would lead to ‘a lot more’ more job losses, as the cost of employing civilians is usually lower than for officers. Even so, it was hard to see how front line and neighbourhood policing could be kept at its current level.
Cuts are already having an effect. I have previously noted worries that anti-terrorist policing could be hit and that the Metropolitan Police is going to cut recruitment and training costs by requiring anyone who wants to become an officer spends time as a special constable first.
Today the BBC reports that the Scottish Police Federation has complained that politicians are “not being totally honest with the Scottish public” over police numbers. The Dumfires and Galloway, Lothians and Borders and Strathclyde forces have all introduced freezes and the Scottish Police College is also affected. The BBC quotes Scottish Police Federation Chairman Les Gray as warning that:
“Quite clearly evidence shows that when police numbers fall, crime will rise – people will become the victims of crime, there will be more fear of crime, and without wishing to be melodramatic some people may even lose their life.”