In the Media

Police chief hits out at cuts that put his force on 'cliff edge'

PUBLISHED January 26, 2012

Chief constable of Gloucestershire says cuts will change face of policing

Last week it was the chair of the Greater Manchester Police Federation who brought the impact of the cuts in policing into sharp focus.

In a letter to Chief Constable Peter Fahy, chairman elect Ian Hanson said officers were "working well beyond maintainable limits", and response teams were "stretched well beyond capacity".

Today, the chief constable of Gloucestershire police goes further, saying his force is "on a cliff edge" as it is faced with making an extra ?1.3m cuts on top of reductions of ?24m in its budget.

Chief Constable Tony Melville says he is speaking out in support of both rank and file and senior officers, who say the cuts will leave their chief with little option but to hit at the very heart of front line policing.

"Here in Gloucestershire we are in the middle of the perfect storm," said Melville. "Never before in my 34 years of policing have I experienced an issue which has galvanised staff and officers in the way this has, and I feel compelled to respond..."he said in a letter to the police authority.

While all forces face a 20% grant to their Whitehall grant, Melville says a series of local decisions mean he has to find ?1.3m more.

"In a small force, a series of local decisions have combined to take us to a metaphorical cliff edge much more quickly than others," he said. He supported letters sent to the police authority this week from the police federation, the superintendents association and the trade union Unison, as the authority considers increasing the cuts.

"The letters... are written by bodies which represent every part of hte constabulary - both officers and staff spanning all ranks. The content is strong.. but not scaremongering. They air genuine concerns which I share."
Melville says if he is forced to cut so deeply, policing "will look very different from what the public have come to know and expect".

In Manchester, the feelings expressed last week were similarly strong. The Greater Manchester force is shedding 3,000 posts, which will see it lose 23% of its workforce by 2015 to help save ?134m after its annual budget was cut.

Hanson told the chief constable Peter Fahy officers were at breaking point.

"Officers are working well beyond maintainable limits and they cannot sustain this pressure much longer," Hanson said.

"Response teams are barely able to function on a normal day and then when an incident occurs they are stretched well beyond capacity.

"Officers are seeing their numbers depleted and, despite what some local commanders may tell force command, things are starting to come apart."

As budgets are being set across the country for the new financial year these are unlikely to be the only discordant voices. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds