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Monday, 5 September 2011

Anger over police who made no arrests in whole year

 

2,000 police officers in a Yorkshire force made no arrests last year because they were kept in supporting roles that could be fulfilled by civilians, wasting millions, a think-tank claims today. Too many officers are working in control rooms and forensic suites when those roles could be carried out by cheaper civilian staff, saving police for frontline duties, the Policy Exchange said. Nationally one in 20 police officers is doing work that could be done by civilians, wasting almost £150m a year, it argues. This, it said, contributes to a situation where more than 14,500 officers in the UK made no arrests at all last year, including almost half of all officers in the Derbyshire force and more than 2,000 in West Yorkshire. While this includes some officers not in a position to make an arrest, such as those in management or on restricted duties, the think tank adds: “It does suggest that there remain too many officers not in frontline roles where their warranted powers are being exercised.” Claims of inefficiency have been denied by the region’s forces, however, and come as South Yorkshire Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes prepares for a meeting on Wednesday to press home to MPs how cuts are piling pressure on his officers. Mr Hughes has warned that crime will rise because of cuts to police and council services. Constabularies face a 20 per cent funding cut over the next four years, which is expected to result in the loss of 16,000 officer posts. The Government has insisted savings can be made without affecting front-line duties. The head of crime and justice at the think-tank, Blair Gibbs, said: “Too many sworn officers are hidden away in back offices. Some forces like Surrey and Suffolk became more efficient by hiring cheaper civilian staff but many did not. “As a result taxpayers have spent at least £500m since 2006 in extra employment costs for over 7,000 police officers who have a uniform, but who aren’t policing.” The Cost of the Cops analysis of official data and Freedom of Information responses from forces claims that civilian staff could be used instead of officers in areas such as forensics, control rooms, operational support and business support, saving more than £20,000 per head. But, as of March last year, the level of civilianisation in forces ranged widely from just 34 per cent in the West Midlands to 55 per cent in Surrey, with an average of 43 per cent. Between March 2010 and March 2011, only two forces, West Mercia and Humberside, were said to have “notably increased” their level of civilianisation while 33 forces reduced their proportion of civilian employees. The report calls for improved visibility, suggesting officers should wear their uniform on their way to work, more patrols, and a re-evaluation of staffing by police chiefs including measures to tackle sickness and absence. West Yorkshire deputy chief constable David Crompton dismissed the conclusions as “nonsense” and added: “We know some forces have given information based on operational staff only, whereas we have used the whole workforce. “About 1,200 of those officers are in supervisory ranks – managing and overseeing investigations rather than arresting on the streets. “A force the size of West Yorkshire has a huge specialist capability to deal with things like underwater search, child protection and covert operations which aren’t currently involved in day-to-day arrests. “Trying to compare West Yorkshire with another force that used a different starting point is like comparing apples with oranges.” Mr Crompton added the data used was already out of date: “It is common knowledge throughout the public sector that budgetary pressures have driven huge changes in the last 18 months, and to suggest that data from the period April 2009 to March 2010 accurately reflects the position in late 2011 is misleading.” He added: “In our opinion, there is more mischief-making than mature debate about this report.

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