THE BLOG

The Police Service That's Edging Towards the Edge of the Cliff

03/02/2014 15:26 GMT | Updated 05/04/2014 10:59 BST

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The growing number of police officers and staff, who cite devastatingly low morale within the police service as a reason why many of them are contemplating a change of job, must act as a wakeup call to the Home Secretary, PCCs and Chief Constables across the country.

I've lost count of the amount of times officers of all ranks have told me that the police service they joined is completely different to the service of today.

In today's police service officers are expected to do more with less, and whilst this may be possible with some duties, it cannot be healthy for an officer to have to worry that if s/he presses his/her button for backup that backup won't arrive on time.

I've said many times both on social media and to high ranking officers, that the great British police service is rapidly running towards the end of the cliff, where there will be a point of no return and action must be taken now to prevent the complete loss of confidence.

How can the service recruit the next generation of officers when the role of a police officer is now one which consists of stress, low morale, long hours and not very much appreciation?

Gone are the days when policing was a career that officers would recommend to their family and friends. Indeed when I was thinking of possibilities for my own career, my dear Grandfather who served for more than 30 years told me to avoid joining the police because of the low levels of morale, the immense danger that there is nowadays and the lack of respect the police get from some areas of society.

Low morale in the service means an increased number of staff sickness days, stress and low public confidence. Officer morale and public confidence go hand-in-hand.

When I was studying policing, investigation and criminology at university, I was inspired by Robert Peel's principles and vision of a police service, particularly 'the police are the public and the public are the police'. Under their uniforms, the brave men and women who go on duty knowing they might not return home, are human. They have families, children and most importantly they have feelings.

The British police service is admired around the world simply because officers police by consent, and if we are to ensure that the policing model in Britain remains that way then frontline officer numbers must be increased, for if visibility is increased then so too is public confidence and general morale.

Cuts have to be made and officers and staff accept that, but severely damaging a key public service is foolish. Crime has reduced but people have to ask themselves do they feel safer now than a few years ago? I believe crime has reduced but a key factor in that is that people are not reporting particular crimes.

I don't believe the crime survey is fit for purpose; it is not truly representative of crime levels in England and Wales because the sample size is far too low.

A few years ago a police officer wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister via my website. In the letter she talked about responding to a call from an elderly man who had fallen. Read the letter for yourself because it really does give the view from the frontline. Since that letter was published she has left the police service as a result of morale and stress.

Believe it or not, it isn't too late to act, we can still save the great British police service, but we must do it now.