An independent review of police pay and conditions in England and Wales (undertaken by the former rail regulator Tom Winsor) has called for the abolition of a series of allowances and special payments. This may mean that Police Officers on front-line duties might see their pay rise but 40% may well lose out. The review has called for an end to the £1,212 competence-related threshold payment, the Special Priority Payment of up to £5,000 and says no officers should move up the pay scale for two years.
The review has also suggested suspending chief officer and superintendent bonuses. It notes that police earn 10 to 15% more than other emergency workers and the armed forces and in some areas such as Wales and the North East they are paid up to 60% more than average local earnings. The review suggests that only officers working unsocial hours should be paid for doing so, with those working between 2000 and 0600 getting an extra 10% on their basic hourly pay.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has said that the Westminster Government cuts could lead to the loss of 28,000 officer and civilian staff jobs over the next four years. The Con Dem Government is preparing to reduce funding for the police by 20% by 2014-15.Currently 43 Police forces in England and Wales employ about 244,000 people, with 143,000 police officers and 101,000 civilian support staff. ACPO has predicted the loss of 12,000 police officers and 16,000 civilian staff as a result of spending cuts.
We already know that Gwent Police are to face cuts (potentially more than £24 million) over the next four years is not good news. This is a direct consequence of the Con Dem Westminster government's recent comprehensive spending review, which as everyone knows has seriously slashed public spending across the board. Gwent Police are now going to be engaged in a prolonged and serious bout of belt tightening as the force comes to terms with seriously reduced funding.
The retention of Police Officers (on and off the beat) and civilian support staff should be the bottom line. Once you go down the line of cutting civilian support staff, which some may consider an easier and slightly more acceptable situation than reducing police numbers, there will be consequences. A reduction in civilian support staff numbers will inevitably lead to a reduction in the availability of operational police officers, which will have consequences for all of us.
Policing, just like everything else is driven by funding - this is the reality of modern (and old time) policing, our hard pressed Police Service (whether in Gwent, South Wales, Dyfed-Powys or North Wales) all need additional funding and an increase in the number of serving officers. On top of that our Police Officers actively need the active support of our communities, especially if we are seriously going to deal with crime and anti-social behaviour and to ensure proper Policing within our communities.
There is absolutely no reason why we cannot be far more creative when it comes to how are Communities are policed. We certainly need a more flexible approach to shift patterns to tackle those periods of the day when higher levels of criminal offences take place and need to actually respond to local communities real concerns rather than the Ministry of Justice's (formerly the Home Office) perceived priorities and targets. We need to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past when it comes to basing Policing strategies on core and periphery because the end result is that some of our our communities will lose out when it comes to access to Police services and resources.
If we want to solve, curb or reduce crime in Wales, then it makes sense for the control of Policing as well as Justice and Prisons within Wales to be fully devolved to the National Assembly, much of this already happens in Scotland, are we less capable than the Scots or less of a nation than Scotland? - I don't think so!