Being the victim of crime can be a harrowing experience, for both the victim and the people closest to them. But in modern Britain, we at least expect that crime scenes will be swept for clues and evidence sent for analysis.
However the grim reality is that our police members have not been immune to this government’s ruthless austerity agenda.
Just days after Chancellor George Osborne announced £5bn of unspecified spending cuts in his Budget, a new UNISON report has revealed that cuts to police scientific services are placing criminal investigations at risk.
Since 2010, the government has slashed police budgets by 20 per cent. Therefore it’s no surprise that 92% of police staff members we surveyed revealed that there have been job losses in their teams.
Cutting forensic services such as crime scene investigators and fingerprint experts is having a major impact on the number of crimes that can be solved. Not all DNA evidence is now sent for analysis, simply because police forces can’t afford it.
Staff who have managed to hang onto their jobs point out that they no longer have the resources to investigate every crime. This means vital clues to catching criminals are not being picked up.
Police staff are often unable to keep up with demand during normal working hours and are pressured into working overtime – often without pay. Court cases are being lost because work can’t be completed in time. Overall stress levels are through the roof. Morale is at an all-time low.
It’s no small wonder our members are frustrated and angry at the damage that government cuts are having on their ability to do their jobs.
The government’s promise that it would protect frontline police services has been blown out of the water. Criminals are slipping through the net.
Whichever party is running the country after May must reverse these damaging cuts to ensure police forces have the resources to investigate crimes properly and bring offenders to justice.