Omissions in new Government strategy criticised by Federation chair
Cleveland Police Federation chair Andrea Breeze has reacted with surprise and disappointment at the details of a new Government strategy designed to combat serious violence.
While welcoming any ideas that might help cut crime, Andrea says she is amazed the new 111-page Serious Violence Strategy, launched on Monday, does not mention the reduction in police numbers as a factor for the rising tide of violent crime across the country.
She is not the only one critical of Home Secretary Amber Rudd for failing to acknowledge that losing 21,000 officers and 7,000 PCSOs due to Government cuts had had a detrimental impact on the police's ability to tackle serious crime with the national Federation chair also speaking out.
A string of shootings and knife-related incidents in the capital over recent weeks have highlighted figures which have shown a big rise in violent crime.
"The Home Secretary seems to be simply ignoring the fact that so many officers have been lost because of cuts across the country," says Andrea, "Nowhere, in what is a huge document, is there any mention of the reduction in police numbers. Clearly, that is a contributing factor in what has been happening.
"Not only are the fewer officers on the street hampering our attempts to fight and prevent crime, it also reduces our ability to gather intelligence and offer the public reassurance that the streets are as safe as they can be.
"It is clearly not just the reduced police numbers that has led to an increase in violent crime but anyone who is prepared to ignore that fact in a new initiative to tackle criminals is not telling the full story.
"Our Cleveland officers are feeling the strain as they try to manage demand against a backdrop of a significantly reduced public presence. Something has to give.
"Officers and PCSOs need to be visible in our communities to build the trust of the public and build relationships with those people. With the support of the public, we are always trying to deter criminal and anti-social behaviour. Yet with continued cuts from the Government, our ability to serve our communities gets harder and harder."
The Government has outlined four main themes of its new Serious Violence Strategy. They are: law enforcement and the criminal justice response, tackling country lines and the misuse of drugs, early intervention and preventions and, supporting communities and local partnerships.
National Federation chair Calum Macleod said: "This is all very well but where are the measures to tackle the rising tide in violence that we are seeing right now? We know that knife crime is up by 21 per cent and gun crime by 20 per cent. These intervention strategies might work in 10 years' time but what do we say in the meantime to the families of the victims who have been tragically killed?
"Ms Rudd also refused to comment on a leaked Home Office document which appeared to state that the fall in police numbers is likely to have contributed to a rise in serious violent crime. It also said a lack of resources and fewer charges may have 'encouraged' offenders to commit crimes but Ms Rudd claims not to have seen this report which I find shocking.
"There is also no mention of the recent HMICFRS PEEL inspection which admitted that the police service was cracking under the strain and unable to keep up with demand."
The strategy sits alongside the new Offensive Weapons Bill which will be brought forward within weeks, making it illegal to possess certain offensive weapons like zombie knives and knuckle-dusters.