Police forces ‘struggling to deliver’ due to funding cuts.
A recently-published report by the UK parliament’s National Audit Office says the Home Office is unaware of the impact that hefty and inconsistent spending cuts have had on the quality of police services.
The UK police are running desperately low on funds, but the cabinet ministry responsible for oversight and funding, the Home Office, isn’t monitoring the situation effectively, according to a report by the National Audit Office, parliament’s spending watchdog.
According to the report, police budget shortfalls have led to massive staff cuts. As a result, fewer criminals have been charged with crimes, it is taking longer to process offenders, and some offenses are being overlooked entirely.
“There are signs that forces are already experiencing financial strain and struggling to deliver effective services to the public,” said Amyas Morse, the NAO’s head.
Not only has the Home Office not addressed the financing question, it is largely unaware of its extent, contends the NAO report.
“The Home Office’s decision to take a light-touch approach to overseeing police forces means it does not know if the police system is financially sustainable,” the report reads.
“If the Home Office does not understand what is going on, it will not be able to direct resources to where they are needed, with the risk that the situation could get worse,” Morse says.
The report says that if the police force was a private company, it would have likely already teetered on the edge of bankruptcy; however, while the forces, by their nature, can not go bust, their ability to provide “an efficient and effective service” is at risk.
For example, the report points out that funding has dropped by 19 per cent since 2010, which led to a 15 percent reduction in police staff. As a result, the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or summons fell from 15 percent in March 2015 to 9 percent in March 2018. The time it took to charge criminals with an offence increased from 14 days for the year ending March 2016 to 18 days for the year ending March 2018.
As the police struggle to tackle the more important offenses, everyday infractions have become less of a priority, the report says.
Since 2010, there have been fewer breathalyzer tests, motoring fixed penalty notices (traffic tickets) and convictions for drug trafficking and possession, it reads.
Earlier in August, the Independent reported that Home Secretary Sajid Javid had criticized Prime Minister Theresa May for blocking a 3 percent pay raise for police officers in favor of a much smaller 1 percent raise, calling it the “wrong decision.”
However, when Javid announced the pay increase to the forces, he publicly defended Downing Street’s decision, praising the 1 percent pay increase as “the highest consolidated pay award since 2010.”