Police must move with the times

A POLICEMAN’S lot is far from being a happy one at the moment. The police budget is being cut by 20 per cent over four years, while their pay and conditions are under review in three separate Government-commissioned reports.

In this context, the decisions by forces in North Yorkshire and Humberside to increase officers’ working days are little more than signs of the times. So, too, are the grumbles from police representatives that these latest moves will only add to sagging force morale.

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Given the fact that the police service is being cut back far more than many other public services, these complaints are understandable. Certainly, the Government cannot afford to take the police for granted, particularly when it is facing discontent on a wide number of fronts from a host of unhappy public-sector workers. Indeed, it is worth remembering that, throughout the social ructions of the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher was always very careful to ensure that she had the police on side.

However, it is not unfair to suggest that, given the demands of modern policing, officers should be able to work far more effectively if rigid work patterns are consigned to the past. The reforms in North Yorkshire, for example, should mean that the proportion of officers off duty on any given day would be cut significantly.

When the nature of policing has changed so much over the years, it makes little sense for officers to be wedded to practices that were established in a different era and it is somewhat concerning that Police Federation representatives do not seem to recognise this.