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  1. John Apter: This is not a cause for a celebration . . . it is merely a blip. John Apter: Damage done by the reduction of the thousands of officers Date - 24th January 2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle 6 Comments Policing’s rank-and-file has derided as “merely a blip” new Home Office figures that reveal the first rise in officer numbers for a decade. Police Federation Chairman John Apter scoffed at the “miniscule” year-on-year increase against the backdrop of a service savaged by austerity – with 22,000 fewer officers on the frontline. The total for the 43 forces in England and Wales fell from a peak of 144,353 in 2009 to 122,395 at the end of September 2018, according to the latest Police Workforce Statistics. But Mr Apter was quick to react to the government’s “encouraging” noises to the addition of 466 more officers – an extra 0.4 per cent – that took the 2017 total of 121,929 up for the first time since 2009. He retorted: “This is not a cause for celebration. “This is a miniscule increase and this report does not include data about those leaving the service and does not undo the damage caused by the reduction of the thousands of officers we have lost over the last eight years. “I would be interested to see if this minute upwards trend continues. “I suspect it is merely a blip, and in any case it is not enough to compete with the increasing rate of violent crime.” The federation head was referring to the latest crime figures from the Office for National Statistics that saw violent crime up a fifth, and homicides showing a 14 per cent increase from the previous year. As well as the small rise in officer numbers, the workforce study showed the total for police staff and designated officers also went up by nearly 2,000 – 2.8 per cent – from 66,393 to 68,256. But numbers for police community support officers dipped by 2.6 per cent from 10,056 to 9,791 while specials saw their workforce plunge by more than 1,500 from 12,601 to 11,029, a fall of 12.5 per cent. The latest figures reveal that the total service workforce has climbed back over the 200,000 mark from 198,388 a year ago to 200,448 – a one per cent increase. But in Downing Street, Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman trumpeted:”It is encouraging to see the first signs of officer numbers rising in the statistics today – having put forward the biggest increase in police funding since 2010. “ Responding to the latest figures, Association of PCCs workforce lead Ron Hogg welcomed the fact that the long-term reduction in officer numbers is levelling out, and that there has been an increase in police staff. The Durham PCC added: “This reflects changes in demand for policing, including the need to tackle violent crime and address the growth of cybercrime. "It is very disappointing to see a reduction in PCSOs, however, bearing in mind the key role they play in neighbourhood policing.” View On Poice Oracle
  2. Thousands of mental health patients are being detained beyond the legal period. Forces are making decisions to hold people with mental health issues in custody beyond the statutory maximum due to difficulties accessing hospital beds. As a result custody sergeants are stuck with a difficult legal dilemma. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act they are obligated to release suspects once decisions are taken about the alleged offence or after 24 hours in custody, but they cannot continue to detain someone who is unwell unless an approved mental health professional has completed a legal application under the Mental Health Act. Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter, who recently witnessed a detained mental health patient being held in police officer’s rest area due to a lack of hospital places, told Police Oracle: “This crisis have been going on for a number of years, only in recent times the government is taking notice. “We are working more closely with social services and the NHS on the deeper issue. “People are being detained under the Mental Health Act and they are sitting in station restrooms whilst waiting for hours and hours. Time and time again I hear around the county there are no beds available, usually out of office hours.” Mr Apter added there needs to be a clearer direction in law and there must be consequences if failure to deliver as they are "just covering and papering over the cracks.” “Agencies need to take a long hard look because officers are having to take up the slack and have to pick up the pieces,” he added. “This is a real serious issue and it just can’t go on.” A College of Policing review of 21 police forces found 264 cases involved the police feeling obliged to keep someone safe by holding them in custody beyond the period allowed by custody law because of delays in finding a hospital bed. But this is likely to be a fraction of the real picture. NPCC lead for mental health, Chief Constable Mark Collins said: “Police officers have a duty to ensure that anyone brought into custody facing a mental health crisis is directed to a medical professional as soon as possible – it is a real concern that this is not happening quickly enough in potentially thousands of cases and each case potentially represents a violation of that person’s fundamental human rights. “This is a legal problem that is emerging more frequently across the country so we want to work closely with the statutory regulator the Care Quality Commission to collect more accurate data and secure timely admission for people when they need it most.” View On Police Oracle

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