Officers Filling Gaps In Police Staff Shortages

Hampshire Police has 200 staff vacancies, which means officers are filling the gaps and being taken away from the frontline, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Nationally, 6,000 officers were filling gaps caused by police staff jobs cut during austerity, the Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council recently told The Guardian.

Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield has seen the problem first-hand, saying: “We had to cut so many police staff roles when the cuts came in, because those people could be made redundant. Once I was out on patrol and I got called back to the station to sign for a delivery of stationery because there was nobody in the station to sign for it. That wasn’t unusual, because there were no police staff to do all those admin functions, so officers were being called off the frontline to do it.

“It’s got better since the uplift, but I think it’s going to take at least another 10 years before we are over all the damage done by those cuts.”

Zoë continued: “We still have around 200 police staff vacancies. We struggle to recruit in some areas like our resource management team, because we’ve got National Air Traffic Service (NATS) up the road and they pay £10,000 more for doing the same job. And the same for the control room; we struggle to compete with other companies who offer a lot more money.

“We need significant investment from the Government so that we can make sure we’ve got all these functions filled, so that officers only need to worry about policing. They don’t need to worry about, ‘We’ve run out of Sellotape in the station’. A lot of this stuff can be automated too, so we also need investment in technology.”

Zoë added that even though the force had now recruited more officers, 75% of Hampshire Constabulary’s frontline had fewer than three and a half years’ service and that this was also affecting the pipeline of officers becoming Sergeants.

The answer was for the Government to significantly invest in all police forces, Zoë said: “There are some places in our force where we need more police buildings because now we’ve got more people, but there isn’t any money for that. Or we need to recruit more police staff, but there’s no money for that. Different forces will have different issues, but if they were given a significant investment then they can use it where it’s most needed in their force.”

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