Further cuts to police forces could jeopardise public safety and lead to more industrial unrest, warns UNISON

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis has today (Thursday) warned that more cuts to police jobs and budgets could jeopardise public safety, and lead to industrial unrest.

In his speech to the union’s annual police and justice conference in Brighton, Dave Prentis said: “Despite promises not to cut frontline policing, all we have seen from this government is cuts to the jobs that make a real difference to policing in the UK. A real difference in how our police staff keep the public safe.

“From 999 call takers to fingerprint experts, from detention officers to scene of crime officers, our police service is struggling with staff shortages, huge workloads and constant pressure from ministers to keep the crime stats down.

“Policing has been under attack with all parts of the service being hit. The government has allowed neighbourhood policing roles to be decimated. Almost 4,500 community support officers roles have been wiped out since 2010.

“And there will be more. Forces are nervously awaiting what lies in store for them in next month’s spending review before announcing how many more PCSO jobs will face the axe.

“In London, the Met is planning to rid the capital of all its PCSOs. Invaluable intelligence gathering and their presence on the streets, that gives peace of mind to parents and the elderly alike will be cut, lost, wasted.

“Cuts mean there are no longer any reassurances for the public that any crime perpetrated will be investigated, and ultimately that justice will be done.

“Scientific services within the police simply no longer have the resources to investigate all burglaries, assaults, muggings and acts of vandalism, so vital clues that could lead to the arrest of persistent criminals just aren’t being picked up.

“Probation workers have also been subject to a huge amount of unnecessary change. The privatisation of probation means several private companies now have a hold on a vital public service, and are abusing this privilege by treating staff unfairly. Not paying them decent wages, nor giving them the redundancy they are entitled to if their employment comes to an unforeseen end.

“And with more courts closing because of the squeeze on budgets, it is the expertise and dedication of valuable staff in the Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) that risks being lost. With huge, often difficult, cases, and the fate of some of the most vulnerable families and children on their casebooks, they too are at the mercy of governmental cuts.

“What this government is essentially creating is a haven for criminals and a growing sense of fear and insecurity in our communities.

“UNISON will continue to campaign and fight these cuts. And should police staff feel that there is no other option open to them, we will support them should they wish to move towards industrial action.”

Notes to editors:

UNISON represents 40,000 police staff working in the police forces in England, Wales and Scotland, staff in the national probation service, community rehabilitation companies and CAFCASS