Derbyshire police officers’ fears over budget cuts

POLICE officers in Derbyshire believe the Government’s plan to cut 20 per cent of the police budget over the next four years and a reduction in police officer numbers will have a detrimental effect on crime levels and result in the public getting a poorer service, according to a survey.

A phenomenal 98 per cent of Derbyshire officers who responded to the online survey said that morale has fallen owing to the planned police budget cuts, the possibility of a reduction in police officer numbers, possible changes to their terms and conditions, and how this will all impact upon the service they are able to give to the public.

An incredible 85 per cent of police officers believe cutting police officer numbers in Derbyshire will have a detrimental effect on crime levels. As a result of the reduction in police officer numbers 72 per cent believe their workload has already increased or will increase in the future and an astonishing 87 per cent believe there will be a decline in service delivery in Derbyshire due to planned budget cuts.

Mark Pickard, Chairman of Derbyshire Police Federation, warns: “The message from police officers in Derbyshire is loud and clear. They feel they are being hit from all sides by this Government which, in addition to attacking their terms and conditions, is imposing a 20% cut on the service which will undoubtedly lead to increased levels of crime and a poorer service for the public in Derbyshire.

“The Federation is not opposed to change and accepts that policing must play its part in public sector cuts. However, if this Government truly believes in considered and informed change for the better then it should have the courage of its convictions and establish a Royal Commission on policing. Cuts of this magnitude are criminal and, despite the very best efforts of ranks and file police officers, will undoubtedly lead to a poorer service for the residents and businesses in Derbyshire. That is why it is imperative that those who live and work in Derbyshire make clear to our local politicians that a cut of this magnitude to the police budget needs to be urgently reconsidered by national Government before it is too late and we all suffer the unintended consequences of its actions.”

The survey results are in stark contrast to the views expressed by the Government that cuts to policing are achievable without crime rising or affecting service delivery to the public.

The 20 per cent budget cut to policing was announced by the Government at the same time that changes to pensions were announced by Lord Hutton and the Winsor review of police pay and conditions was published.

If implemented, the Winsor report recommendations will see the vast majority of police officers take a real time pay cut on top of increased workloads. Some could be up to £4,000 worse off and this takes no account of inflation and other external factors that may see costs rise in the coming months. Around 90 per cent of police officers in Derbyshire believe changes to their terms and conditions will have such a detrimental effect that some police officers will be compelled to leave the service owing to financial difficulties.

Representatives of Derbyshire Police Federation are joining colleagues from across England and Wales at this week’s national Police Federation conference in Bournemouth. The conference runs from Tuesday to Thursday and will include a keynote speech from Home Secretary Theresa May.