Policing Cuts – “It is Personal” and it’s time for everyone to “Speak Up”
The issue of the unacceptable cuts to provide PCSO’s was brought home to me in a very stark fashion earlier this week, when following a pleasant morning litter picking with the community in Bellinge I bumped into a PCSO I have known for a long time, (clearly it wouldn’t be wise to real the name of the officer for obvious reasons) who asked me directly
“Will you be voting to make me unemployed”?
In all of my previous blogs I have focused on the generality of how the police will cope with the cuts to police budgets at a time when almost everyone is being squeezed by the recession and Government austerity policies and in particular how they will cope with the increasing levels of acquisitive crime such as thefts, robbery, burglary and vehicle crime and not on the very personal impact of the cuts.
What my friendly PCSO brought home to me is the other side of the equation and the human cost of losing such a valuable and highly regarded presence on the ground.
Modern policing depends increasingly on being ‘intelligence led’ and as most people, with the exception it seems of the governing local politicians, understand is that intelligence is gathered by piecing together snippets of information usually obtained by what during the war was called ‘careless talk’.
The issue will be that the cuts will remove the opportunity for ‘careless talk’ that is supplied to PCSO’s who have their boots on the ground who once gone will leave a vacuum, and as everyone knows a vacuum soon gets filled only in this case it will be filled by those who commit offences.
The human cost will be more victims, not statistics but real people suffering from real crimes that have a 100% impact on them, their families and their friends.
It will make investigation, detection and the apprehension of the perpetrators more difficult and the level of unresolved crime will inevitably rise despite of the professional commitment of what still is a great police force.
The overall result will be that the police will be castigated by the public and as elections approach the very same politicians who have implemented the cuts will sit safely in their County and Guildhall offices and call for action by the police and ironically promise to do something about it.
The human face of losing the PCSO’s who are excellent people and go well beyond their remit in engaging with the community, is that they and their families will find themselves through no fault of their own discarded on the growing number of unemployed.
As a councillor for the Billing Ward who lives in the area I represent I have discussed the possible and now probable loss of the PCSO’s presence in this area of Northampton.
The dismay from Ecton Brook to Bellinge, from Little Billing to Great Billing and across to Standens Barn and Weston Favell at the loss of what they see as “their PCSO” has been universal.
Talk of their roles being taken on by the Neighbourhood Wardens is treated with derision as the residents point out that
“Didn’t you oppose the cuts in Neighbourhood Wardens?” the answer to which is of course yes, and
“When will we get our Neighbourhood Warden back as you promised?”
The answer to which is I don’t know because there is no mention of them in the budget proposals.
The issue of policing and future methods of intelligence led policing will be a matter the newly elected police commissioners will have to get a grip of almost immediately following their election in November of this year.
In the meantime the public will suffer but don’t forget that this is something that is not remote from every home and family in Northampton it being only consigned to local politicians balancing the budgets at the town halls.
The cuts to police funding is a decision that will have a real and personal impact on you, your family, friends and neighbours and as the cuts take place there will be no satisfaction in looking back with hindsight and wishing something had been done to stop it.
A major problem is that your local councillors don’t know or are informed about what crimes are committed apart from the data that is collected and presented in terms of percentages and not as individual cases.
Here is my suggestion to bring home the personal impact of the decisions to cut police funding, street lighting and CCTV is having on the people of Northampton to the Leaders of the County and Borough Council administrations.
I would urge everyone who experiences crime or anti-social behaviour that affects them, their families, their friends and their neighbours to contact the Leaders of the County and Borough Council informing them of the incident and copy their local councillors in to the information so you cannot be ignored.
(The address and contact details of the leaders and councillors are available on the Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council websites).
I can guarantee the level of crime and anti-social behaviour will shock most of them and a deluge of the personal cases and the impact will perhaps focus the minds of the councillors who might just start to listen to the concerns of the people they are supposed to represent.