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Disorder: 'Government Is Failing To Heed Warnings'

Regional Fed chairman voices concerns that ever-greater compromises are being made – and breaking point will be reached

A regional Police Federation chairman has said the government is failing to recognise the warning signs that forces may find it difficult to deal with serious disorder in future.

Brian Robinson, a serving inspector with the North Wales branch of the staff association, told PoliceOracle.com that ever greater compromises are being made as the financial realities of the Comprehensive Spending Review begin to bite.

¬Any claim that forces don’t have sufficient resources to deal with disorder is completely without foundation.¬

He predicted there would be a point where forces would be less able to mobilise for situations such as the serious disorder of August last year as they adjusted to significant reductions in the numbers of officers and staff.

The Home Office has said the resourcing claim is “without foundation”.

Insp Robinson said: “Everything so far has been fine – but we have not yet had to face up to a situation in which the Police Service has not been able to cope.

“At the moment my force is fit for purpose with what we have – however my question is how we are going to respond if anything major happens nationally.

“One of the key problems is that we still have not had any guidance on what is not a priority – cuts in control room staff have been made and and the posts filled with officers. This means we have effectively been left with cuts to the front-line.”

According to the Policing in Austerity report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, North Wales Police is to shed 10 per cent of its officer workforce, equating to around 162 pairs of boots, and potentially 11 per cent of police staff – up to 104 employees – by 2015.

Insp Robinson described the police as “the emergency service of last resort”, adding that officers had been called upon at short notice to resolve the Olympic security problems.

The officer said: “You only have to look at what happened with G4S. Yes, we were able to cope but that was at the expense of pulling in both the police and the army – a service that is also having to contend with its own cuts.

“Coping was achieved by ruining soldiers’ (post tour) leave – there was massive restrictions on police leave too although at least we had the benefit of it being planned.”

On a more local level, Insp Robinson said that there had been a noticeable decline in officers willing to step up and work extra hours. He added. “We had a potential murder in my area a couple of weeks ago and it was a struggle to get anyone in.

“People are looking at work-life balance more.”

However, the Home Office said Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary had made it clear savings could be made while protecting the front-line.

A spokesman added: “The issue during last summer’s riots was not about total police numbers but around the speed of deployment of officers to trouble spots.

“Any claim that forces don’t have sufficient resources to deal with disorder is completely without foundation.”

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