There they were. Gone.

Analysis has revealed that one in seven bobbies on the beat have been axed over the past five years, along with one in three police community support officers (PCSOs). The consequences have clearly been kept from the public, although incidents in which officers have been stabbed, run over and disciplined for helping vagrant shoplifters have consistently made the headlines.

Feb 7, 2018

Analysis has revealed that one in seven bobbies on the beat have been axed over the past five years, along with one in three police community support officers (PCSOs). The consequences have clearly been kept from the public, although incidents in which officers have been stabbed, run over and disciplined for helping vagrant shoplifters have consistently made the headlines. Pictures of half-empty parade rooms were posted widely on social media this week, but the Home Office seems unaware of the statistics, blissfully ignorant of the number of officers manning the front line, or they have perhaps mislaid them. Whichever it was, ministers have exacerbated a difficult situation by claiming that “overall traditional crime” has fallen by almost 40 per cent since 2010, without saying whether the overalls in question were stolen or merely damaged. Police Scotland has not lost any PCSOs, but this is only because they have never bothered to recruit any. If they had they might have lost even more. We will never know. Andy Higgins, a research director at the think-tank The Police Foundation (which appears not to have lost any staff) says that neighbourhood policing has been hit “quite hard” by budget cuts but he does not say whether or not the blows were delivered by an axe. He also says “resources will always get sucked elsewhere”. This may be true, but sucking seldom causes serious injuries. Meanwhile, the editor of this erstwhile publication, one Paul Lander, expresses his views on a weekly basis at the opposite end of this tome and has waded into the raging disclosure debate with some unhelpful disclosures of his own. These include the revelation that a 64GB iPhone can contain 11,600 complete works of Shakespeare. This may well be the case, but they tend not to, and is not, in any case, an offence. Yet. Neither police officers nor criminals read Shakespeare, and many, if not all, politicians are aware of the need to keep some phone memory clear for incoming porn. Any user intent on familiarising themselves with Shakespeare’s writings would be well advised to install one copy, and go back to the top of the first page in the unlikely event they reach the end. Mr Lander has also posed what seems to be intended as a rhetorical question about modern day investigations, asking: “How many digital devices should be seized?” This is, however, eminently answerable. About four. Mr Lander has finally expressed his concerns about the number of files that detectives are dealing with. This will easily be solved by giving them larger desks, that they can hide under when their offices are invaded by criminals who are finding it increasingly difficult to find either neighbourhood officers or PCSOs to attack. As police and police support officers dwindle away, volunteers and private companies are increasingly being used for a bewildering range of policing roles, including traffic officers, investigators, drivers, receptionists, intelligence officers, trainers and call handlers. Is nothing sacred? Now that’s what you call a rhetorical question. Yours, Stitch stitchley@policeprofessional.com @SOStitchley

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