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Conference 2015 | "Never before have the police felt so undervalued"

Police and crime commissioners can help repair the police service's relationship with the Government, the Police Federation annual conference has heard. Katy Bourne, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, (pictured) acknowledged that the Government needed to bridge a gap with the police service.

She said: "The Government needs to start building its relationship with police and they can do that through PCCs. "One officer in Sussex said to me: 'I don't know if I want to continue in policing.' That crystallised everything for me. How do we reverse potential rush to the exit door?"

Kevin Hurley, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, was greeted with applause from delegates at the conference as he described how officers feel undervalued in the face of government cuts.

He said: "I'm certain that two years ago we passed the tipping point in a downward spiral that will take many years and much investment to recover from. "There has been almost a complete withdrawal in investment in training for the future. Many officers go out on the street with far less confidence than they previously would have. If you don't invest in training your workers, you get a poor quality product.

"Never before have the police felt so undervalued. There is now continual onslaught of kicking you every other day of the week."

Ms Bourne made the point that although the public likes to see bobbies on the beat, the police service needs to reform to deal with the changing nature of crime.

She said: "Neighbourhood policing is the one thing local people are supportive of. We're building up the public's expectation that they expect to see police officers on the street and they will make them safe.

"But how is having a visible police officer going to keep a child safe online? We have 21st century crime and a 20th century policing model."

Police forces have already been expanding their use of technology, including using body-worn cameras and using iPads to take witness statement. Charlotte Pickles, Senior Research Director of the think-tank Reform, said: "One of the failures of the last Government was failure to grasp that the police service needs to be underpinned by technology.

"The role of predictive analytics, voice recognition and face recognition is really underused and we've barely scratched the surface of what technology can bring."

However, Steve White, Police Federation Chairman, said technology must be an addition to police officers, not a replacement for them.

He said: "Technology is not the answer to everything. We have 1,200 experts in this room that are really good at face recognition.

"They're the one who go out on the streets, knowing who the miscreants are and putting them behind bars and we can't be replaced by computers.

"It wasn't 16,000 laptops and computers that saved London from burning in 2011."


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