“Disgustingly offensive.” That’s the response from frontline police officers to Tom Winsor’s comments about further cuts to policing.
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “For Tom Winsor to suggest that some victims of crime deserve a better service than others is not only disgustingly offensive but also extraordinarily ignorant.
“By suggesting that forces merely need to 'work smarter' to deal with the most savage cuts to funding in living memory, Mr Winsor has demonstrated he is completely deluded about not only the nature of crime but also about what the police service needs from the government to keep the public safe.
“Mr Winsor says his focus is on the public and what the public needs. Our members know what the public wants and that is a policing service that can respond to their concerns. And the cuts that he appears to be backing have put that in severe jeopardy.”
Mr White added: “Crime isn’t falling. Many people don't report crime now because they feel nothing will be done and they are right. What’s the point? I have every sympathy with them.
“Forces have to decide on their local priorities because they don’t have the resources or time to deal with everything and that means officers are not being sent out to deal with incidents as they once would have been. Officers are being forced not to turn up to crimes because they have no time to deal with them. This is not what they signed up to do.
“And while I do agree, some crimes are less serious than others, this is not the case for the victim. It is disgustingly offensive to suggest that one victim deserves a better service than another.
“We do need to ensure that crimes that matter most to people and do the greatest harm to communities are tackled, but not to exclusion of others – how is that fair? A victim of a purse theft deserves an equal service to someone who has been assaulted, or has been the victim of a complex fraud. Crime affects people’s lives in many different ways and we are not here to judge that or diminish a victim’s experience: ‘Sorry sir, we can’t come out to you today because you are just not important enough?’ I don’t think so.
“I don’t doubt that we can be more efficient in some areas but the public want officers. Mr Winsor has said that ‘there will inevitably be a time when they [the police can’t take any more'. Well wake up and smell the coffee. That time has come and gone.
“I am sure that in his two years in post, Mr Winsor has learnt a great deal about policing – just as police officers do when they first become constables. However, I'm sure there is much that he doesn't yet know. Hopefully, having earned himself a new contract from the Home Office, he will now be more keen to listen to and learn from those he inspects.”
Mr White also criticised Mr Winsor for increasing fear in people who may be subject to fraud. He has said that banks at the moment compensate people who are subject to fraudulent activity on their accounts but that this would be likely to change in the future and when that did, when people were not compensated, they would be more demanding of the police and the police need to get ahead of it.
He said: “With far, far, fewer officers, with less money, with forces at breaking point and officers who simply cannot cope with the demands placed upon them any more, I am not sure how he expects this to be achieved.
“Public safety is at risk. There is no knight in shining armour coming to save the police service. Mr Winsor is playing with fire if he is really just crossing his fingers and hoping it will all go away by forces working 'smarter'.”