SUBSTANTIAL cuts and extra workload demands are “overwhelming” police officers, says the new PEEL report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Cracks are, perhaps unsurprisingly, beginning to show as policing is placed under increasingly significant stress.
On occasions, says report author Zoe Billingham, this stress is preventing some forces from being able to adequately keep people safe in some important areas of police work.
Her report found that around a quarter of forces are all too often ‘overwhelmed’ by the demands they face, resulting in backlogs of emergency jobs which are preventing officers from being able to protect the public.
However, she praised officers across the country for their considerable efforts in keeping policing standards high.
This latest PEEL report investigated effectiveness in the UK force and focused on the overall question; ‘How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?’
Overall, Durham Constabulary was judged as ‘outstanding’, 30 forces were ‘good’ and 12 were deemed to be in need of improvement.
Despite the intense pressures facing them, no police force was judged to be performing inadequately.
The report also highlighted the issues in Detective Policing with a shortfall of 5,000 investigators being reported across England and Wales.
It also urged police leaders to ensure staff are fully supported.
“Police officers, police staff and PCSOs rise to significant challenges every single day,” Zoe continued.
“It’s vital that police leaders take effective action to stop the problems we have found becoming ever more entrenched and widespread.”
Police Federation of England and Wales Chair Calum Macleod said: “This report has made it clear that what we have been saying for years is true – policing in this country is reaching breaking point.
“Her Majesty’s Inspector Zoe Billingham, who led the inspection, states the service is under ‘significant stress’ and that this stress is so severe in some forces they are at risk of ‘being unable to keep people safe’.
“Let that sink in. The Government’s own inspector has said that some parts of the police service in the country are so stretched that people may be put in danger.
“If this is not a wake-up call I don’t know what is. We cannot allow this situation to deteriorate to such an extent where people are routinely put a risk. That is unthinkable – but shockingly it seems – not unrealistic.”