Police Federation Warns On Civilianisation

Police forces may soon employ more civilians than officers, new research from the Police Federation of England and Wales reveals

The data, found that numbers of police staff have virtually doubled in just under a decade and the growth in their numbers has outstripped that of police officers despite assurances.

This could threaten the long-term resilience of the police service to deal with unexpected and unplanned circumstances.

The research analysed statistics from all 43 forces in England and Wales looking at the ratio of police officers to police staff from 2000 to 2009. The federation said some findings demonstrated that for all the political platitudes about restoring public confidence in the police, forces are in fact putting short-term cost savings ahead of public safety.

According to the research, the average ratio of police officers to staff in 2000 was 2.3 to one and by 2009 Home Office figures show this as 1.4 to one.

Whilst the research found value in some civilian police staff roles there was a clear lack of training, role definition and consistency across forces, there has also been no evaluation taken as to whether they even present better value for money.

With the National Policing Improvement Agency and some chief officers wishing to re-engineer the entire police service workforce, the Police Federation believes there is an urgent need for the new government, in liaison with the police staff associations, to ascertain the full range of police staff roles in existence; to examine whether civilianising tasks that do not require warranted powers has a negative impact on police officer diversity; to explore whether specific staff roles has a positive impact on performance or public satisfaction; and to ascertain whether that impact provides better value for money to the public than the equivalent cost of a police officer.

Paul McKeever, Chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales said: "It seems clear that for all the platitudes on restoring public confidence in the police, promises to keep police officer numbers high may be nothing more a game of smoke and mirrors.

"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.

At a time of financial restraint across the public sector, a rise in police staff numbers is absolute nonsense when the public want more police officers on the beat. Instead we have more increasing numbers of unaccountable, unidentifiable police staff who do not have the flexibility or resilience to give what is needed as an emergency service."


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