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Famous five officers warn government 'dangerously low resources' could write off policing


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And federation says it is 'time to be brave' to mend a broken service.

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Deadly consequence? Stab victim Tesfa Campbell is the 73rd homicide in London this year

Five former Met commissioners - at the top of policing for a quarter of a century - have called for a royal commission to overhaul its structure amid claims crime-ridden Britain under the Tories has lurched towards a “feeling of lawlessness”.

The loss of 30,000 officers and staff, the decimation of neighbourhood teams and the undermining of stop-and-search powers has led to the “emasculation of British policing”, they claimed.

In an unprecedented break with tradition, the quintet of former Scotland Yard commissioners have joined forces to warn the crisis had seen the public lose confidence in the service.

In a letter to The Times, Lord Condon, Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, Lord Blair of Boughton, Sir Paul Stephenson and Lord Hogan-Howe – who between them ran Britain’s number one force from 1993 to 2017 – said resources had been “drained to dangerously low levels” and victims of crime had “perilously low expectations”.

The letter stated: “The reduction of police and support staff by more than 30,000, the virtual destruction of neighbourhood policing and the inadvisable undermining of lawful police powers such as stop and search have taken their toll.”

“Common sense suggests that these factors have contributed to the feeling of lawlessness generated by knife murders and ‘county lines’ drugs.”

Their siren call was echoed by policing’s rank and file in a blunt message to the government – and Britain’s modern force leaders – that the time has come to “take brave decisions to enable policing to provide the service the public expect and deserve”.

Federation chairman John Apter said it was no longer possible to “ignore the elephant in the room, namely that we now have 22,000 fewer officers than we did in 2010”.

The Home Office dragging its feet over a review of the funding formula for the past four years had to led to “inequalities between the way different forces are funded and having to juggle their resources to try and provide a policing service to protect the public and communities at a time when crime, especially violent crime is rising significantly, and the murder rate is at a ten-year high”, he argued.

Mr Apter continued: “Short-termism doesn’t work – forces need certainty, stability and predictability to plan for the long term and make best use of their resources.

“We currently have a broken service where over-stretched officers are robbing Peter to pay Paul and are rushed off their feet trying to keep up with a horrific explosion of crime at a time when funding is down by 19  per cent  in real terms since 2010.

“There aren’t enough boots on the ground, our officers are getting burnt out just trying to keep up with demand and something has to be done about it now.”

Mr Apter was pleased that yesterday’s annual state of policing report by chief inspector of constabulary Sir Tom Winsor had highlighted the growing mismatch between police funding and public expectations.

He added: “We welcome the fact that the report does not shy away from a lot of the difficult questions about policing, its future and how it should be funded.”

Sir Tom also called for an overhaul of the way the police service in England and Wales is structured – questioning if the traditional 43-force model is still fit for purpose. And he said government and chiefs needed to look at the bigger long-term picture when they decided how to allocate money to forces.

The chief inspector added in his report findings: “There are indications that some forces are straining under significant pressure as they try to meet growing, complex and higher-risk demand with weakened resources.”

And he warned that only a joined-up criminal justice system – branded "dysfunctional and defective" in the assessment – will deliver effective results for all sides.

His report said there had been a real-terms reduction of 19 per cent in police funding in England and Wales since 2010-11, to £12.3 billion in 2018-19. Officer numbers were at 122,400, a fall of more than 21,300 since 2010.

The commissioners, who were joined in the letter’s signatories by former head of counter-terrorism policing Sir Mark Rowley and ex-PSNI chief Sir Hugh Orde – attacked the “emasculation of British policing” under Theresa May, urging her successor  to make law and order a priority once more.

Under Mrs May’s long tenure as home secretary, violent crime rose after she imposed restrictions that caused the number of instances of stop and search to fall by 80 per cent, from a peak of 1.5 million in 2008-09.

The latest London murder victim – named as 40-year-old Tesfa Campbell who was stabbed in Battersea on Wednesday – brought the total number of homicides in the capital this year to 73, with 13 teenage victims.

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Yes those five had said very little if anything over the last 10 years. Perhaps showing that they have become Political animals bowing to various Governments. They should have been neutral and bringing those Governments to account, including PCC's and financial  and manning cuts.

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