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18.02.16

Continued cuts risk undermining effectiveness of neighbourhood policing – HMIC

Policing cuts risk undermining the effectiveness of neighbourhood policing, the police inspectorate has warned as 18 forces across the country were rated as ‘requiring improvement’.

The latest Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) police effectiveness report graded one force as outstanding, 24 forces as good and 18 as requiring improvement. The outstanding force, Durham, was particularly commended for its preventative approach to crime.

The number of forces rated as requiring improvement has risen from eight last year, although Humberside has improved its rating from inadequate.

Zoë Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said: “Forces’ good performance in preventing crimes is at risk if neighbourhood policing is further eroded.

“Frontline neighbourhood police officers have told us repeatedly that they are being pulled from their vitally important preventative work in communities to fulfil other duties, like guarding crime scenes, spending time in stations investigating crimes or staffing police station front counters. Losing our eyes and ears in the community is only likely to hamper good performance in preventing crime.

“Police leaders need to take heed of HMIC’s early warning and make sure that neighbourhood policing – the cornerstone of the British policing model, is preserved for future generations.”

The strongest area was preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, with 35 forces rated to be good, and the weakest was protecting the vulnerable and supporting victims, with just 12 receiving a good rating.

Forces were mostly good at tackling serious and organised crime, with 32 forces judged to be good, although they were better at dealing with ‘traditional’ crime such as drug-dealing than newer areas such as child sexual exploitation and cyber-crime.

The report commended forces for improving the service provided to domestic abuse victims over the past 18 months after “a determined effort to make domestic abuse a priority.”

Chancellor George Osborne recently pledged that there would be no real-term cuts to policing in the next four years, but Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) have expressed doubt about the promise.

In the latest edition of PSE, PCCs Dr Alan Billings (South Yorkshire) and Tony Lloyd (Greater Manchester) say cuts have had an impact on their forces, including a reduction in officer numbers.

The HMIC report is more bad news for emergency services following yesterday’s Public Accounts Committee report that further cuts to fire authorities could harm services.

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