“Investigate every crime…? colleagues are already overrun and overstretched”

It is an impossible task to expect police officers to investigate every single crime – despite the fact there is nothing they would love more to do – Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Zoë Wakefield, Federation Chair, was speaking after Home Secretary Suella Braverman said officers must investigate every theft and follow all reasonable leads to catch offenders.

But years of cuts have left forces under-resourced and under-equipped, Zoë said.

“Every police officer would love to be able to investigate every crime and catch offenders and put them behind bars, because that’s what we’ve joined the job to do; look after the good people and lock up the bad. But there just aren’t enough of us.

“All those cuts over the past 13 years mean Hampshire still isn’t back up to its 2010 numbers. We’ve got 13 years now of fewer officers that there just isn’t enough of us to do what we all want to do. It’s really frustrating for officers because we want to be able to be that. We want to deliver the absolute best service that we can for the public – but we just can’t,” she said.

It is not just warranted officers that are missing, Zoë added; it is backroom staff at Hampshire, a force which saw bigger cuts than many others.

She added: “We just don’t have the support from the police staff that we had before. We’ve got some automated systems that do stuff for us, but we’ve had perverse situations where we’ve got officers that are having to order Sellotape and they’re trying to work out how they actually go and order Sellotape because they don’t have it in order to package up exhibits and stuff like that, when those officers could be out on the street. It’s getting better, and numbers are gradually going up, but we still don’t even have the numbers we had in 2010, despite the population increase and crime increase.”

Steve Hartshorn, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said officers were “stretched beyond human limits” and he was not sure how much additional pressure forces could withstand.

He said: “Undoubtedly each and every police officer in the country wants to provide par excellence service to the members of the communities they diligently serve and protect.

“But, unfortunately, headline grabbing announcements by the government will not help officers provide that service. It can only be done if the government provides adequate resources to officers and makes sustained investment in the police service.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council reminded the Home Secretary in an Open Letter that Chief Officers “have operational independence and are responsible for making difficult decisions around how best to respond to the breadth of priorities of local communities.”

It added that the recruitment of 20,000 police officers “has been welcomed by every force across England and Wales.”

Although it added: “The reality is that since 2010, the number of officers has increased by just 2.6%, while recorded crime has increased by 25%.”



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