05-17-2010, 01:46 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Public 'at risk' as civilian police staff doubles in just ten years
Quote:Public safety is at risk because the number of civilian police staff has nearly doubled over the last decade, it was claimed last night.
The growth in police community support officers (PCSOs) and other civilian staff has outstripped the rise in fully sworn officers, according to a report by the Police Federation.
It showed the average ratio of police officers to staff was 1.4 to 1 last year - compared to 2.3 to 1 in 2000.
One force, Surrey, has more civilian staff - taking statements, interviewing people and gathering data - than warranted officers. The same force has the worst detection rate in the country, says the Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers.
It claimed politicians had put ' short-term cost savings ahead of public safety'. The federation demanded a reversal of the trend which, it said, could threaten the ability of the police to 'deal with unexpected and unplanned circumstances'.
With budget cuts pending, it is feared that the 'thin blue line' could be further eroded.
Nationally there has been a 16 per cent increase in police officers but an 80 per cent rise in police staff (49 per cent excluding PCSOs).
Paul McKeever, chairman of the federation, said: 'I find it alarming that there is no tangible evidence that even suggests, let alone proves, the value brought by "civilianising" increasing numbers of police posts.
'The public want more police officers on the beat. Instead we have increasing numbers of unaccountable, unidentifiable police staff who do not have the flexibility or resilience to give what is needed as an emergency service.'
He said that, if unchecked, the changes 'will destroy the police service in England and Wales'.
Speaking on the eve of the federation's annual conference in Bournemouth, Mr McKeever urged the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, 'to implement a full independent review and to have the courage to ask the public what they actually want and expect from their police service'.
The study by the federation analysed statistics from all 43 forces in England and Wales, looking at the ratio of police officers to police staff from 2000 to 2009.
In 11 forces, police staff numbers have increased at ten times or more the rate of officers.
Ruth Meade, author of the report, said: 'As more policing roles are sub-divided and delegated to members of police staff, the core policing role becomes increasingly one of confrontation.'
Police forces have always had civilian staff. PCSOs were added in 2002 to increase the uniformed police presence on the streets. But figures released in 2007 showed that, on average, each PCSO solves one crime every six years.
Surrey Chief Constable Mark Rowley defended the use of civilians. He said their deployment boosted working capacity, improved response rates and efficiency.
Mr Rowley is the Association of Chief Police Officers' head of future reforms. He added: 'We see the police constable as the professional expert around which successful policing teams are built.
'We have increased the use of support staff ensuring police officers make the most use of their high levels of skill, experience and powers.
'We have achieved more for less with this approach.'
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