Police Federation chair John Apter has called for more “common sense” in setting police priorities. Apter has stated that rank and file members feel frustrated at being tasked with investigating trivial rows on social media, for example, at the expense of attending burglaries and other serious crimes due to a lack of resources.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Apter observed: “As a police officer on the street, there is still that desperation to do the job they want to do and very often they can’t because their hands are so tied. Where we’re drawn into local disagreements, the argument over the remote control, the dispute in the playground and the row on Facebook it is frustrating. I certainly think police time can be better spent and it makes a mockery when we are so stretched. You can’t treat society like that and you can’t treat the police as political footballs. We need to have a sensible debate with politicians, with society with the public about exactly what they want their police to do.”
Apter added: “People join the police service to keep people safe and to lock up bad people, not to sort out petty squabbles over a remote control.”
Recently, South Yorkshire Police asked people to report insults on social media, even if they’re not considered to be a hate crime. The Federation has questioned the wisdom of this in light of current pressures on police resources.
Apter explained: “Burglary is one of the most intrusive and horrible crimes that a householder can go through. It makes you feel incredibly vulnerable, but people can sometimes wait days for a police response. Even if there’s little chance of catching the person(s) responsible, police officers know the value of spending a little bit of time with the victim, talking through their concerns and offering them some reassurance. That half an hour you spend with someone gives so much back to society. It’s about understanding the value of something over the cost, which is something the bean-counters don’t seem to grasp.”
“Rubbing salt in the wounds”
News that police officers in Scotland will receive a 6.5% pay rise “risks rubbing salt in the wounds” of officers in England and Wales. Officers north of the border below the rank of Assistant Chief Constable are receiving an immediate uplift in pay from the Scottish Government as part of a three-year pay deal. A mid-point constable will see their pay bolstered by £2,300 and will have earned an additional £6,000 over the next 31 months.
This contrasts with the 2% awarded to their police colleagues in England and Wales in July.
John Apter said: “While this is positive news for our colleagues in Scotland, it’s hard to stomach for their colleagues in England and Wales. For the second year running, the Government at Westminster chose to ignore the recommendations of the Police Remuneration Review Body, instead awarding a miserly increase that amounts to around £2.50 extra per week.”
Further, Apter opined: “It goes without saying that officers certainly don’t do the job for the money, but it is unacceptable to see colleagues struggling to make end meet at the tail end of each month. The Scottish Government has shown its support for policing and delivered more than warm words, which is what’s needed from our Government. Officers are sick of pleasantries from politicians which, in reality, they mean nothing. For a Government to show such contempt for those who put their lives on the line for the public is shameful.”