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Policing is ‘on verge of crisis’ with officers being exploited and public ‘defrauded’ because forces are ‘utterly reliant’ on fewer staff working longer, says chief superintendent

  • Fears Britain is turning into the ‘Wild West’ will rise in shootings and knife attacks
  • Head of Police Superintendents’ group says forces are reliant on fewer officers
  • He says policing is ‘on the verge of crisis in many areas’ amid budget squeeze
Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, head of the Police Superintendents' Association, is to warn that policing in Britain is on the brink of crisis

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, head of the Police Superintendents’ Association, is to warn that policing in Britain is on the brink of crisis

British police forces are on the ‘verge of crisis’ and are dependant on officers working unpaid overtime, according to chiefs.

Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, is set to speak out on the challenges facing forces as soaring levels of knife and gun attacks have seen the country labelled ‘Wild West Britain’.

A poll by the Daily Mail this summer found that 57 per cent of people say police have surrendered control of their neighbourhoods and criminals have no fear of being caught.

Mr Thomas will this week voice ‘genuine fears’ for the service in England and Wales, saying it is ‘utterly reliant’ on fewer people working longer and harder.

The officer will tell the Association’s annual conference: ‘I cannot emphasise enough that the delivery of routine policing functions should not be dependent on officers effectively giving their time for free by staying past their shift times or working on leave days.

‘That exploits police officers and defrauds the public.’

Police at a crime scene in London. The capital has seen more than 100 killings this year

Police at a crime scene in London. The capital has seen more than 100 killings this year

Speaking at last year’s conference, he argued policing was in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’.

Mr Thomas will say tomorrow: ‘I would now suggest that this great service is on the verge of crisis in many areas.

‘The vision for policing has to be something more strategic than a hope for more collaborations, otherwise we will be in a perpetual state of crisis.’

He will urge Home Secretary Sajid Javid and police leaders to take ‘difficult and bold’ decisions.

Mr Thomas is expected to say: ‘There is a void in the long-term strategic vision for the police service of the future.

‘We need to know what the overall goal is for reform. What are we ultimately working towards? What is the vision for policing in 21st century England and Wales?’

Police at the scene of the stabbing in London. Experts say gang culture and drill music is fuelling a rise in violent crime

Police at the scene of the stabbing in London. Experts say gang culture and drill music is fuelling a rise in violent crime

The Association highlighted concerns about collaborations, where officers have responsibilities across more than one force.

Its research found officers reported spending hours in a car some days covering areas of more than 100 miles, using two different laptops, IDs and email addresses for the same job.

Mr Thomas will say: ‘We have been debating our structures for delivering service to the public on and off for years, and yet have been trying to make the same systems and structures work.

‘The famous definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

His speech is likely to spark fresh scrutiny of police resources and staffing levels amid rising levels of recorded crime, including serious violence, and an unprecedented terror threat.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said at the weekend that Scotland Yard had ‘run out of things to sell’ after was forced to sell off more than £1 billion worth of property over the past six years.

Last week, analysis by the Press Association revealed forces closed hundreds of thousands of residential burglary, vehicle theft and shoplifting investigations without identifying any suspect.

In his first major policing speech in May, Mr Javid pledged to prioritise police funding in the next spending review.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Home Secretary has made it clear that he is committed to a good working relationship with the police and to ensuring that front line officers get the support and professional development they deserve.

‘The ongoing Front Line Review will help officers and staff to drive change in policing and ensure that the barriers  they face on a day-to-day basis are identified and addressed.’

The department added that the Policing Minister spoke to leaders in every force in England and Wales about the changing demands on them before making decisions on the 2018/19 police settlement that is increasing total investment in the police system by over £460m, including increased funding for local policing through Council Tax precept.

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