Policing is never far from the news and with the publication this week of the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report into policing across England and Wales it has hit the headlines again. But behind the predictable TV sound-bites about police cuts, the report sets out a very encouraging picture of police forces rising to the challenge of tighter budgets and making reforms to protect the frontline.
As a public service costing £14 billion a year, policing has to play its part in reducing the deficit (down by a quarter in the last two years). But reform would be necessary even if there were no deficit. After years of Labour increasing the bureaucratic burden on police but leaving the service unreformed, there is a huge amount which must be done to make our police forces leaner, more efficient and effective crime fighting agencies.
The first words of the HMIC report makes perfectly clear what its chief finding is: ‘Police forces have risen to the financial challenge, cutting their spending while largely maintaining the service they provide the public’. It could not be any clearer.
Read on and you find that the gloomy predictions of Labour and the Government’s opponents that budget reductions for police forces would lead to a decline in the service provided to the public simply have not come about. The report makes clear that the Government’s approach is working.