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Policing must be a priority for politicians

During the #CutsHaveConsequences campaign we have done all we can to highlight, not only the impact the cuts have had to policing across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight but also the consequence of future cuts to the policing budget.

This campaign took the message to the public and highlighted, in an open and honest way, the consequence of cuts to their local police force.

We have grave concerns that if the cuts continue in the way they have then policing as we know it will become unsustainable. We often hear from our Politicians that British policing is the best in the world.

If this is the case then why have those very Politicians stood back and allowed the very model of policing that they say is the best there is to be dismantled piece by piece, it just doesn't make sense.

Hampshire Police Federation are not the only ones concerned about the future of policing across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Our Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner have both warned that future cuts would have an impact on how we delivered policing. We are united in this message because we care passionately about giving the very best service we can to the public.

If that focus changes from passion for service to passion for profit then we have lost the fight. Don't be under any illusion, private companies are in the shadows waiting to pick over the bones of British policing.

In May the public will elect a new Government. It is important that whatever colour the future Government is they must take notice of the public when they say that policing is a priority for them.

No doubt any future Government will say that British policing is the best in the world, we need more than words. We need the new Government to show that they care about policing and if it's a priority for the public then it will be a priority for them.

We accept that in difficult financial times tough decisions need to be made, but policing has taken its pain, policing has risen to the challenges and this must be recognised by the decision makers.

Further cuts will bring policing to its knees and create risks to the public which are unavoidable.

Policing is the glue which holds society together. As that glue is weakened there will be some who take advantage. That's why policing should and must be a priority for any Government. Anything less is rolling the dice on public safety, that is not what the public expect or deserve.

Thanks for your support.

John Apter
Hampshire Police Federation

Policing is about much more than crime. #CutsHaveConsequences

A small minority of people who don't understand policing will say police should only deal with crime. Modern policing is far more than just crime fighting, and society is a better place for it.

Those who believe the police should purely deal with crime do not have a grasp on the complexities of modern day policing. The reality is that demand on policing is increasing.

On a typical day, an average size Force will make 50 arrests, deal with 101 anti-social behaviour incidents, respond to 12 missing person reports, deal with 9 road traffic collisions and attend 14 calls linked to mental health issues.

On top of this the an average size Force will be supporting 2,700 families enrolled in the troubled family programme, supporting 1,600 victims of domestic abuse, managing 1,189 sexual and violent offenders and safeguarding 1000 children who are subject to Child Protection Plans.

The non-crime related demand on police officers - our members - has increased and is likely to increase further in the future placing more pressure on a service already buckling under the pressure of budget cuts.

This is an inconvenient truth for those who base all they judge on policing on the crime rate. By 2017 we will have 1,000 fewer police officers, something is going to have to give.

The response to our #CutsHaveConsequences campaign has been really positive. The feedback from both the public and those we represent has been one of overwhelming support. We are now launching a series of bus adverts carrying the campaign message (see picture).

If we didn't speak out, who would…?

When Hampshire Constabulary was hit with the first round of cuts (£55million) the Chief Constable responded swiftly. The Force reduced officer and staff numbers, it collaborated with other Forces and it restructured.

When a further £25 million was taken from the budget more drastic action was required. The Constabulary had to restructure and more officers and staff were reduced. The frontline of policing has been impacted upon and the tipping point has been reached.

People will say that crime has fallen so police can take the pain. Although across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight overall crime has fallen by 2.5% we have seen increases in certain types of crime.

Violent crimes have increased by over 11%, sexual offences have increased by almost 27%, Arson has increased by 29%. But crime is only a part of the overall picture.

And as we have said policing is about more than tackling crime. Some 83% of calls we receive are NOT crime related.

Then, we will receive calls for Mutual Aid from other Forces. These requests are becoming more routine which has an impact on the Force the officers come from.

So with an increase in some types of crime, an increase in demand across the board but a huge reduction in officers and resources it is no wonder that we have reached, and in some cases gone beyond breaking point.

The risk of future cuts to policing is a real one. With all that has been taken out of policing there is nothing more to give.

Further cuts would force decisions to be made which would have been unthinkable a few short years ago. Neighbourhood policing is at risk, the very bedrock of policing is under threat. This is not the police service our members joined and it's not the police service the public tell us they want.

The public tell us that policing is a priority to them, they support their local Force, they want policing to remain an integral part of their community.

We need people's help in getting this message to our MPs, prospective MPs and all local politicians. Ask where they stand on policing cuts.

Let them know that #CutsHaveConsequences.

John Apter
Hampshire Police Federation

#CutsHaveConsequences to Hampshire Police... Where will it end?

Crippling budget reductions are taking their toll on Hampshire Constabulary.

We are beyond the tipping point.

Police Stations have been closed, specialist units have been reduced and police officers are at risk of becoming an endangered species.

Hampshire Constabulary has faced £55m cuts since 2010, and further reductions of £25m between 2015/16 and 2016/17, £80m in total.

In the past five years, Hampshire Constabulary has lost 647 officers - a reduction from 3,748 to 3,101. We expect that by 2017 we will have lost almost 1,000 police officers from Hampshire Constabulary, but despite these reductions, demand on policing has risen.

Where will it end? When will people start to realise that #CutsHaveConsequences

I am incredibly proud of British policing and proud to be a police officer. I joined Hampshire Constabulary in 1992 and like many of my colleagues joined to make a difference, to help people and to keep them safe.

When the budget crisis hit the UK I fully accepted that policing, along with other areas of the public sector should take their fair share of budgetary pain and help the economy to get back on its feet.

Sadly, policing took more of a hit than many - we have seen police officer numbers slashed with more cuts expected over coming years.

There are fewer police officers working within their local Neighbourhoods, fewer police officers responding to 999 calls. This is a sad thing to see and it is set to get even worse.

Like my colleagues I joined this service to make a difference, but the men and women I represent now say they are policing with their hands tied behind their back.

They are tired, run ragged, they feel unsupported by the Government and under resourced. They cannot be the police officers they want to be thanks to unprecedented cuts to the policing budget.

As I have said, I accept that we must take our fair share of the pain, but these cuts are too drastic and too deep.

Roads policing officers have fallen by a third, 33 police stations have or will be gone. Police Dog numbers have been reduced.

You - the public - are losing vital skills, experience and as a result protection. Police officers will continue to do the very best they can, but with such devastating cuts we ask if our best will be good enough?

We cannot stand by and allow your once proud police force to be decimated, once it's gone it's gone. The cuts we have faced so far have pushed us to the limit. I fear that the cuts will continue and if they do policing as we know it could become unsustainable. Imagine your local police force with no Neighbourhood policing, unthinkable a few years ago but now a real risk if the police continue to have their budgets slashed.

This is not about scaremongering, this is about the cold hard facts.

You, the public, have a right to know what is being done to the service that is there to protect you. I know that the vast majority of the public support their local police service, it is important you know the reality of the cuts we are facing.

And what to do with this knowledge? If you believe that the police service is vital and worth protecting, then please let the politicians of all parties - in person, in writing, by email, on social media - know how you feel on policing.

Let them know that such #CutsHaveConsequences, and the only thing you get for less is less.

John Apter
Hampshire Police Federation

Media Reports

Eagle Radio

Portsmouth News

Daily Echo

Spire FM

REVEALED: More than 33 police stations in Hampshire shut or sold off within next three years

Wave 105

ITV News

IOW Radio

Hampshire Chronical

On The Wight

IOW County Press

The Breeze FM

Island Echo

Basingstoke Gazette

Spire FM

Eagle FM

Portsmouth News

Morning Star

Southampton Echo

Littlehampton Gazette

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