When I first heard about the new United Kingdom Prime Minister’s desire to introduce league tables for the police forces of England and Wales my heart sank, as history has demonstrated that this does nothing to deliver policing, based on local needs, to different communities.
This was further compounded by the letter from the new Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, stating that is the Governments expectation that UK Police forces cut homicide, other serious crime, and neighbourhood crime by 20 per cent. In all honesty, I don’t know of any police officer, whatever their rank, whose desire is not to cut crime by 100 per cent.
With such finger in the wind targets and a failure to appreciate what hard working police officers do day in and day out, It is even more disappointing, and dangerous, to see policies which have failed so disastrously in the past be promoted and presented as brand-new ideas. It has never been possible to police by a spreadsheet and a quick-fix solution of league tables will inflict lasting damage on those who call for help, the public.
Law and Order must be free from the ebb and flow of politics and although policing may have to adhere to targets, the public doesn’t – and if we focus on one crime to satisfy a target, at the expense of another, the public lose out.
We on the island have one of, if not the best police services in the world, and they have been able to achieve high standards of policing in a complex web of laws and procedures, as well as policing by consent.
Given the recent Isle of Man Government Conference which focused on the Island Economic Strategy integral parts of which are to grow the Island’s population to 100,000 residents by 2037, driven by the inward migration of economically active people and to shape the economy I would ask what meaningful investment is planned for the DHA and specifically the Isle of Man Constabulary or shall we be expected to do potentially 20% more with the same recourses?
The successful operation recently undertaken in London involving more than 10,000 police officers, six of which represented our island so proudly for The Queen’s lying-in-state and state funeral, could not have been achieved without the support from forces across the UK and Crown dependencies. While the operation is a policing milestone, it created enormous pressure on police forces which are already struggling due to low officer numbers and high attrition rates.
Because of poor pay and work conditions recruitment and retention rates are concerning and a number of recruits leave the service within their first two years because of the real-time pay squeeze, which stands at more than 25 per cent over the past 10 years considering increasing inflation rates. In addition to this, low morale and increased demands and case files are causing longer-serving, experienced officers to leave as well.
The Government both here and across claim that they are putting money into policing but where are the longer-term funding settlements that would allow Chief Constables to plan proper policing initiatives?
Additionally, we are certainly not seeing extra cash making it into the pay packets of police officers who are the individuals protecting the public against crime as well as trying to deal with the growing cost-of-living crisis themselves.
At the same time, it is pertinent that not just the rank and file police officers but every other Government agency takes upon more responsibilities and holds itself to account when addressing the changing face of crime on our island.
The Government must demonstrate it is serious and understands the complexities of policing. It has recently offered to provide the resources and tools our police service requires; we will be watching to ensure it does just that, as policing and upholding law and order is far too important to communities to be just a political gimmick.