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"We cannot keep the public of Lancashire safe with these levels of cuts"

Lancashire Constabulary is renowned as a top performing police force in this country.

We have just been rated outstanding in what we do once again by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary.

But this will end.

The only thing you get with less, is less.

Lancashire's Chief Constable Steve Finnigan has spoken out about potential cuts, warning the force will not be viable after 2020.

We agree. As we have been saying, #CutsHaveConsequences.

The Government's new police funding formula means Lancashire is set to lose 13.5% of its budget.

And the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review in November could lead to an additional 40% cuts to Lancashire's budget - slashing a potential 53%.

This will mean a £160 million cut to YOUR policing budget.

In 2010, Lancashire had 3,611 police officers, which could fall as low as 1,700 by 2020.

That's 1,900 plus fewer police officers keeping you safe.

Our police dog section will go.

Our police horses will go.

The vast majority of our dedicated roads policing officers will go.

Every single public enquiry desk in the county will close.

There will be dramatic cuts to our serious organised crime unit and the teams that deal with serious and complex crime - these officers deal with those criminals who pose the greatest harm to our communities.

We will be a limited response only police service with no capacity to be proactive.

We will have to prioritise emergency responses above all other calls.

It is so sad to say.. but these reductions mean the end of the police service as we know it.

We fully accept our need to take a share of the cuts, but public safety should not be gambled with in this way.

Some of the cuts that need to be made are nothing short of devastating to the communities of Lancashire.

When Lancashire Police Federation launched the ?#?CutsHaveConsequences campaign earlier this year, little did we know that there was much worse to come.

This is not scaremongering, these cuts will put lives at risk.

We are not talking hundreds of officers and staff anymore, we are talking thousands.

The thought of leaving our county's roads virtually unpoliced fills me with fear.

The thought of closing our front counters to the public and the total loss of neighbourhood policing teams is such a bleak picture.

We cannot keep the public of Lancashire safe with these levels of cuts.

Not only is this devastating for our workforce, who have carried on regardless despite everything they have had thrown at them over the past few years, it's devastating for the public too.

In light of the current threat level, it seems even more perverse that those entrusted with the safety of our country are being cut to such an extent.

This madness has got to stop.

Politicians must take note. It is up to them to prevent a once-great police service from being dismantled for good.

We would appeal to the public to make their voices heard - speak to your local politicians and councillors today and protect your police service.

#CHC Lancashire from Tinker Taylor on Vimeo.

#CutsHaveConsequences to Lancashire Police

What do you want from your police force? Do you want Lancashire's police officers to prevent crime? Would you like them to look out for the welfare and interests of children and the vulnerable? Do you want them to patrol your streets, gathering intelligence and providing a reassuring presence?

Or are you happy for them to abandon all this simply to zoom from job to job, picking up the pieces before dashing to the next crime?

Because this last picture is looking more likely with every cut made to your policing budget.

Lancashire Constabulary has faced cuts of over £54 million and although this money was difficult to find, the next £31 million will be even harder.

Because if these cuts go ahead, by the end of this next spending period you will have lost ONE THIRD of your police officers.

More than 800 officers have already been lost due to the austerity measures, and although the police service accepts it must take its fair share of the cuts, we have to be careful that we don't break business.

The next £31 million will see the loss of another 700 police officers, and to put that into context, in 2009 we had 3,650 officers keeping our communities safe and that number is set to fall to a record low of 2,400.

These figures are difficult to hear, what will Lancashire Constabulary look like if we lose officers to this extent?

We have very real concerns that this will leave you, the people of Lancashire, with a response-only police service, one that will not have any proactive capability. Crime prevention, intelligence gathering, safeguarding will become a thing of the past.

Crime figures do not paint the full picture. Whilst overall crime rates have not risen, certain crimes are on the increase, burglary is up a staggering 12%, theft from the person is up 11%.

Over 80% of the calls for service we get do not generate a crime number; missing from homes, traffic enforcement, spending time with families who have lost loved ones to name but a few. But this work is just as important to us. We hope it is to you too and we need officers to do that.

This is the first time officer numbers have fallen below 3,000 since records held by the Office of National statistics began in 1976. It seems perverse that those entrusted with the safety of our country is being cut to such an extent particularly in light of the increased terror threat.

We need your help in getting this message to our MPs. Ask where they stand on policing cuts. Tell them you care about the future of policing in your area.

Lancashire constabulary is renowned as a top performing police service in this country. We want to keep it that way, serving our public, but the only thing you get with less, is less."

Rachel Baines
Lancashire Police Federation

#CutsHaveConsequences, but crime is falling...

Or is it?

The information that is being disseminated with regards to this subject is simply not complete. The word 'crime' has become a catch-all for police activity, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is there a disputed link between the number of cops and crime itself (many believe crime is a social product), but the vast majority of time spent on the beat is non-crime related. In fact, crime represents approximately 17% of cop-time, with the other 83% falling into categories that don't generate crime reports.

But surely this can't be true? Almost every police related performance story over this last 20 years has connected the police and crime?

Yes, it has hasn't it, and this tells its own story about the accuracy of that connection and role of the media and politics in shaping the public's expectations.

Austerity as it stands is slowly growing the 17% of cop time that relates to currently reported crime. Back office function that dealt with case file preparation is falling, pushing the files back to the front line practitioners, CCTV and technological support is shrinking, appointment teams are being pushed back to the frontline, and many more functions that were previously based in supporting investigation are falling away. This may be manageable if the 83% held some capacity, but unfortunately there is a rise in demand there too. Ambulances have experienced a huge rise in demand, increasing waiting times for patients and causing the police some horrendous moral dilemmas around transportation of injured parties. Mental Health services are stretched into mainly reactive services, with serious pressure being placed on servicing declining mental health in the communities. Declining mental health is unfortunately linked with declining physical health, which in turn again increases demand on the ambulances again, causing more failure demand to land at the cop's feet.

This cauldron of increasing pressure is taking its toll on officers, who are working incredibly hard attempting to keep the wheel firmly on. Their reactive services are still functioning, despite falls in dog units, NPAS and Traffic patrols. Significant increases in sexual offence reporting and rising risk in the area of child-sex exploitation demands an appropriate level of service from a shrinking workforce, who constantly borrow from Peter to pay Paul as numbers fall. There's a human cost there that doesn't just affect the officers dealing, and it isn't pretty.

But crime is falling…

It's time to come clean about this phrase and make it more accurate. 'Reported crime is falling' is far more appropriate. So what does this 'reported' addition mean? It means that some categories of crime that the police record are falling. What does 'some categories' mean? Well the answer is complex, but suffice to say that the fastest growing category of crime - cyber crime - is not even included. This detail standing alone renders the discussion of crime falling as a falsehood. It isn't falling at all, it's just changing, and our system of recording isn't changing with it.

If you are hearing 'efficiency savings' and 'streamlining' then rhetoric is doing its job. Any officer will tell you that the amount of paperwork that they do now has not - in any way - fallen over this last five years. If there has been any efficiency savings at all, they aren't being felt on the frontline. Stress is rising, mental health of emergency services practitioners is falling, and the public simply cannot be immune to noticing that ultimately, #cutshaveconsequences, and real ones at that.

The dialogue around crime falling is too simplistic and assumes that the reader/listener takes messages at face value. Reported crime is falling (in some areas) but this is - at best - an incomplete argument; it should not and cannot be used to rebut the simple assertion that all you get for less, is less.

#CutsHaveConsequences, and you can bet your bottom dollar that many are invisible to the public at this time. Don't be taken in by the spin, less means less, and thinking anything else may as well be a reportable crime.

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