Government only doing ‘half the job’ by replacing police officers

UNISON calls for government to replace the thousands of police staff axed since 2010

The government must replace 22,000 police community support officer (PCSO) and other police staff jobs axed since the start of austerity, UNISON said today (Wednesday).

The union warns that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to recruit extra police officers is not enough on its own to halt the rise in serious and violent crime.

Ministers and police chiefs must also restore the entire police workforce to 2010 levels by replacing the thousands of police staff jobs lost since 2010, says UNISON. This includes taking on more 999 call takers, fingerprint experts and detention officers.

It comes as government figures* show PCSO numbers have nearly halved, from 16,918 in March 2010 to 9,547 in March 2019. Police staff jobs too have reduced by more than 17% over the same period, from 83,843 to 69,305.

UNISON is concerned that the extra police officers promised by the government will not end up on the beat. Instead, they will be carrying out jobs currently done by police staff, unless the entire police ‘team’ is rebuilt.

UNISON national officer for police staff Ben Priestley said: “Recruiting new police officers is a start. It’s necessary if the government is serious about tackling the rise in serious and violent crime that’s happened on its watch.

“But this isn’t enough on its own – it’s only doing half the job. These officers won’t have the team needed to cut crime without more police staff such as crime scene investigators, specialists in cybercrime and data analysts.

“Just as doctors alone can’t run a hospital, officers can’t patrol the beat and tackle crime without police staff and PCSOs working alongside them.

“Ministers must restore the entire police workforce to 2010 levels, not just part of it. Otherwise the community will suffer the consequences.”

UNISON has written to the police minister Kit Malthouse as well as organisations, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, urging them to support its campaign to rebuild the whole police team.

Notes to editors: UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

*A total of 14,538 police staff jobs and 7,371 PCSO jobs have been cut since 2010, according to Home Office police workforce data.

– Police staff undertake vital work for police forces and include crime scene examiners, fingerprint experts, investigators and detention officers.

– Office for National Statistics figures show that certain crimes including stalking and harassment, and possession of weapons have risen significantly between April 2018 and March 2019.

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