Staffordshire police miss key targets
POLICE chief Mike Cunningham is refusing to blame budget cuts after it emerged the county's force is missing 80 per cent of its own targets on everything from staff sickness to violent crime.
Staffordshire Police's performance has fallen below expected levels in a series of key priorities designed to cut crime and improve services.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham said the force's targets were ambitious but were agreed in the knowledge that stringent budget cuts were to continue.
The Sentinel revealed last month the number of officers employed by the force has fallen to 1,915, its lowest level since the 1970s, as the force battles cuts of £34 million over four years.
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Figures covering April to September show the force is missing eight of 10 ten key priority targets for the financial year, including:
A total of 131 people have been killed or seriously injured in crashes on the county's road network, compared to 125 at the same time last year and 4.5 per cent above the force target;
There has been 2,879 violent crimes in the county – despite the force targeting a maximum of 2,777;
Detection rates for serious acquisitive crime like robbery and burglary have fallen from 22.2 per cent to 19.8 per cent and are below the force target of 21 per cent, meaning less criminals are being caught and convicted.
Targets on service satisfaction among victims of both crime and anti-social behaviour are also off course.
And sickness absence among officers and staff is still above expected levels.
Mr Cunningham said: "I have never been, and will never be, a chief constable who bleats about a lack of resources.
"We have targets that we have agreed in the knowledge of these changes.
"I signed up to them as challenging targets, but they are still targets we are seeking to achieve within the year.
"This is a time of unprecedented change. Staff are delivering, particularly in crime reduction, but not to the extent we have enjoyed in recent years.
"I'm not pointing to lack of resources as being the root cause but it does make things more challenging. That is self-evident." Official statistics show crime is falling in Staffordshire and there were almost 1,500 fewer crimes between April and June compared to last year.
But city councillor Joy Garner, Labour's candidate in November's police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections and a serving police authority member, believes cuts are hitting performance.
She said: "Authority members noted that for as far as we can remember the majority of these targets are being met. It is a serious cause for concern.
"At some point you have got to start seeing the effects of losing so many staff and officers on the force's performance.
"If we didn't need them, they would not have been employed in the first place."
Conservative county councillor Matthew Ellis, who is also bidding to become the county's PCC, was unavailable to comment on the force's missed targets yesterday.
But he believes force performance can be improved and more police returned to the frontline by cutting administration duties that leave them "stuck behind their desks".