- 2019 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
- 25 September 2019
Conference gives a cautious welcome to the pledge of the government, made on 26 July this year, to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers. UNISON has been campaigning for many years to reverse the damaging cuts to policing, so this promise of new investment in the police workforce is good news.
But Conference notes that 20,000 new police officers will not, in themselves, solve the deep seated problems that nearly ten years of police cuts have caused. And the simple reason for this is that police officers are just one part of the whole police team. In light of this Conference endorses the call from UNISON to the Government, NPCC and the APCC to rebuild the entire police workforce, not just part of it.
Conference remembers that from 2010, government funding for the police service was cut by 25%. This means that in total there are now 42,500 fewer police community support officers, police staff and police officers working for forces in England and Wales than there were 8 years ago. Serious and violent crime has risen as a result.
Comparing the 2019 police workforce numbers with their equivalent in 2010 they show that there are now 44% fewer PCSOs and 17% fewer police staff today.
Conference recognises that if the government wants to successfully replace the 20,000 police officers cut since 2010 it will also need to reverse all the cuts to police staff and to police community support officers. Here is the case for rebuilding the whole police team:
1. In the same way that recruiting 20,000 new hospital doctors will not cure more patients if they are not supported by more nurses, porters, radiographers etc, so 20,000 new police officers will not be able to patrol the beat and tackle more crime without corresponding investment in the police staff and PCSOs to work alongside them.
2. In simple terms it takes four police staff to put six officers on the beat. Not enough police staff means less time for officers on the street, as they are tied up with paperwork back in the station.
3. PCSOs were the backbone of neighbourhood policing, and made up 75% of community policing teams. Without new PCSOs, neighbourhood policing won’t recover from the cuts.
4. Workforce modernisation over the last 20 years has led to police staff doing many of the jobs previously undertaken by officers, thereby freeing up officers to tackle serious crime out on the streets.
5. The public won’t want to see new officers backfilling vacant police staff roles.
6. Police staff particularly PCSOs were a success story in making the police service a more diverse workforce. 60% of police staff are women, and back in 2006 15% of PCSOs identified as BME. Sadly the cuts to PCSO numbers have seen the percentage of BME PCSOs decline to only 9.5% in 2018.
Conference therefore believes that to be effective in cutting crime, the restoration of 20,000 police officers will require the recruitment of an additional 14,538 new police staff and 7,371 new PCSOs to replace those cut since 2010. This is a total of 22,000 new employees.
Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to:
a. Lobby the government of the day and key police stakeholders to seek to restore the entire police workforce to its 2010 level, not just part of it.
b. Continue with our ‘Rebuild the Whole Police Team’ campaign
c. Work with branches and UNISON Regions to consult members and branches on the future direction and focus of the campaign
d. Seek the restoration of workforce modernisation in policing in England and Wales
e. Promote the need for better training and development and career opportunities for police staff to reach their potential in the workplace
f. Seek to ensure that there is appropriate investment in the police staff workforce in relation to pay and conditions to underpin and support the recruitment of police staff
g. Promote the increased diversity which the police staff workforce brought to policing prior to austerity