‘Cuts mean we can’t attend every crime’, Suffolk Police Federation warn
Suffolk residents will suffer as cuts to the county’s police force continue to bite, according to the chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation.
Matt Gould said the £20.5million savings needed by 2020 would be “detrimental” to people’s lives. But police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said there is “no cause for alarm” or “despair” despite the “choppy waters” ahead.
Suffolk lost almost 7% of its officers last year, dropping from 1,221 full-time equivalents at March 31, 2014, to 1,140 full time equivalents FTEs by March 31 this year.
Mr Gould said the role of the force was changing from being “pro-active” and working with communities to becoming more an emergency-response only service.
“Simon Ash, a previous police chief constable, said the absolute minimum he would like officer numbers to fall to was 1,200,” Mr Gould said.
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“We are already below that and are heading in the 1,000 direction and we are not looking to grow the numbers to meet targets, we are continuing to lose officers and staff.
“I would not argue with that figure of 1,200. When we were at that we did not feel flushed by any stretch of the imagination.
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“The days of attending every crime are long gone. If there is no obvious line of inquiry or no forensic evidence we are not likely to attend, in the past we may have gone to offer reassurance or offer crime prevention advice – that will now be offered over the phone. It is more responsive than pro-active.”
Mr Passmore, who, depending on the outcome of the General Election would face re-election next year, described the financial situation as “challenging”.
He said: “I would like to reiterate that there is no cause for alarm despite the difficulties we face. Suffolk Constabulary does have an excellent track record of rising to the challenge whatever the circumstances and I am confident that under the current leadership we will navigate these choppy waters successfully.
“We must also remember that whilst there have been reductions police numbers – 83 this year from a total or around 1,220, we are expanding the Special Constabulary, recruiting more volunteers and there are over 150 PCSOs.
“In addition there are extra resources available when required in Suffolk such as The National Crime Agency (£650m budget), National Counter Terrorism Network (£450m budget) and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit with a £16m budget and over 200 officers.”
He called for a “greater sense of urgency” from all public sector organisations to focus on what is “best” for people and businesses in Suffolk and forget about “our own vested interests” when pooling resources.
Mr Gould said he believed foot and vehicle patrols would be cut.
He added that he was concerned about “massive” increases in sexual and cyber crimes.