Sentinel leader column: Get officers out on beat
IT has become an increasingly popular lament across the UK that: 'You never see a bobby on the beat these days.' Now the suspicions of homeowners and residents have been confirmed by research carried out by the TaxPayers' Alliance. The organisation – which campaigns for lower taxes and better government – has revealed that just 12 per cent of police officers and Police Community Support Officers' time across the country - the figure is 12.8 in Staffordshire are 'visible and available' to the public. In other words officers spend around just eight minutes every hour on frontline duties. And that means for a typical 12 hour shift, officers spend around 90 minutes on duties where they can be seen by the public. The rest of the time police – despite a Government pledge to cut paperwork – will be form-filling, book-keeping and doing other backroom chores. It takes so much time carrying out those tasks, that in effect it is costing taxpayers an average £800,000 – £704,922 in Staffordshire – to keep just one beat manned for a year.
T he figures show that the amount of time spent on patrol has dropped as officers are still weighed down with bureaucracy. Home Secretary Theresa May is putting police chiefs under pressure to run their forces more efficiently. She believes there can still be a greater presence on the streets – despite major cuts to police budgets – if red tape is tackled. Staffordshire's police and crime commissioner, Matthew Ellis, has already unveiled plans to recruit more officers and to bring an end to Regulation A19, which forces officers to retire after 30 years' pensionable service, as part of his plans to 'drive down crime'. It is one way of ensuring a greater street police presence but he also has to work out a way of getting the existing workforce out on the beat with far more regularity than current unacceptable levels.
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