Communities need ‘boots on the ground’

Communities need ‘boots on the ground’

16 July 2018

Operational Lead Simon Kempton

Greater investment in neighbourhood policing to provide “boots on the ground” is required to reassure and protect the public, says the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

The comments come in response to a new survey commissioned by the Daily Mail, which revealed that:

  • 60 per cent of those questioned had not seen a police officer on the beat in the past 12 months
  • Almost half did not have a police station near them which was open 24 hours a day
  • And more than three quarters of respondents would like to see more officers on foot patrol in their neighbourhood

PFEW Operational Policing Lead Simon Kempton said: “Some of the trends highlighted in the survey are ones we have identified as part of our own Demand, Capacity and Welfare research.

“Many are directly linked to the reduction in police officer numbers. Since 2010 we have lost almost 22,000 police officers and of that figure 80 per cent have gone from the frontline.

“Neighbourhood policing which was once a key feature of every community has all but vanished. This combined with the closure of hundreds of police station front counters means it is not surprising that more people are reporting that they rarely see police officers.

“Local bobbies who once would have been a familiar sight on the streets of the UK are being redeployed to emergency response teams to meet the increasing demand facing policing,” he said.

The poll, which questioned 2,000 adults across the whole of the UK, also found that 57 percent of those asked thought that the police had lost control of the streets, with criminals no longer fearing being caught or brought to justice.

“We are moving towards becoming a purely reactive service – and worryingly we are struggling to meet the 999 call demand in some areas as highlighted by the recent HMICFRS’ PEEL report – although I don’t think we have reached the stage where we have lost control of the streets to criminals as some survey respondents seem to think,” said Mr Kempton.   

“What is clear that most people are supportive of police officers, they just want to see more of them out and about helping to keep the public safe,” he added. 

Neighbourhood policing also plays a vital role in combatting extremism,  an issue which Mr Kempton highlighted at our National Conference earlier this year.

The College of Policing is currently producing a new set of guidelines to support neighbourhood policing.

Mr Kempton added: “The College has a whole committee looking at this, but what is already clear is that greater investment – both monetary and in terms of personnel – is needed to put the boots back on the ground where they have been so sorely absent.”