A RECENTLY leaked memo reveals that 150 front line officers are being moved by Warwickshire police authority – one of the UK’s smaller forces with 1,800 officers and staff – into the ‘back office’ jobs of civilian staff who have been made redundant. This is expected to be followed soon by other forces grappling with a 20 per cent budget cut imposed by the government.
And this leak comes as a Labour survey of police authority intentions confirms that British police are looking at 27,500 job losses – including 12,500 police officers – over the next four years
Now, the possibility of increased street crime is just one of the consequences of the deficit inherited from the last administration. But another, more constructive one is that these cuts should trigger a rethink as to how police work is done.
In recent years, policing has become relatively inefficient with many officers spending up to 80 per cent of their time doing admin in police stations with an equally large civilian backup.
There have been, admittedly, some good initiatives like giving officers mobile data terminals to streamline reporting and administration but the government needs to do more.
Measures that could be considered include:
- Simplifying ‘red tape’ reporting requirements (a simple burglary prosecution requires, according to The Sunday Times, 1,000 steps and 70 forms);
- Reducing sickness absence, and early retirement on health grounds;
- Multi-skilling police officers to include intelligence processing;
- Time off in lieu rather than costly overtime payment for all but the most junior staff – this is common in industry;
- Regrading staff: if ‘back office’ functions are fulfilled by officers, pay and benefits should be adjusted accordingly- as happens in industry when roles change;
- Merging police forces.
Just imagine the same staff redeployment happening in the National Health Service! It’s a nice thought that managers and admin staff are ‘pen pushing bureaucrats’, but think of the consequences of taking clinicians away from front line patient care to answer phones, arrange blood tests, submit patient data and hundreds of other tasks that aren’t really an option in a safe, secure system.
I trust MPs are also cutting their ‘back office’ staff that cost us all so much in ‘expenses’. They obviously just need to work more efficiently. Or doesn’t that apply to them as long as they can get their nap in the House?
Ooh… You can just hear the Daily Mail newspaper post bag bulging at the seams …
Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca
Picture Credit: JD Mack