“OFFICERS are stretched to breaking point with so many demands on their time and no one else to pass the work onto,” Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoe Wakefield has said, following comments from the head of an independent review that policing is under-resourced.
Sir Michael Barber is leading a Strategic Review of Policing, which will make more than 50 recommendations for the future of forces in England and Wales.
Ahead of its publication, Sir Michael said: “Too often our police are effectively a social service dealing more with mental health and family breakdown than fighting crime.” He added that there “aren’t enough police”, they “haven’t got the best technology” and they face an “organisational challenge” with crimes like fraud needing to be “strategically addressed from the centre” while forces around the country tackle local offending.
Zoe said: “A police officer’s primary role is to save life or limb, if this means responding to a call of someone who is suffering a mental health episode and putting themselves or someone else at risk, then a police officer, together with a mental health professional, should attend.
“However, police officers are often deployed to incidents involving mental health, missing persons, etc where there is no risk to life or limb, particularly during the evenings and weekends when other services are not available.
“This obviously distracts from preventing and detecting crime. Many officers will say they do not have any time to do any proactive policing.
“There are not enough police officers to cope with the demand. Demand has changed and increased but police officers numbers have decreased over the past decade. The new uplift programme is a start but it is not enough to get police officer numbers back to where they should be.
“Officers are stretched to breaking point with so many demands on their time and no one else to pass the work onto. Officers are regularly working beyond their scheduled finish time meaning they have less time to recuperate before the next busy shift.”