POLICE POLITICS has followed a familiar pattern in recent years – crime commissioners and chief constables have complained about a lack of resources while the Government has repeatedly disputed this assertion and said that the deployment of police officers is a matter for local leaders.
However this ‘blame game’ is of little or no consolation to those victims of crime whose calls for assistance have gone unanswered, or those public-spirited citizens who have been unable to speak to an officer to help them to do their job – namely to catch criminals.
Yet, while West Yorkshire Police is not the first force here to take uniformed officers off the street to answer the phones in call centres, the justification of Mark Burns-Williamson, the crime commissioner, and Dee Collins, the Chief Constable, is awaited with interest.
After all, this move means that the police’s public presence is reduced still further at a time when law-abiding members of the public have stated, repeatedly, that they are reassured by the sight of officers on patrol, and that this helps to build trust and community links.
Is the West Yorkshire force seriously suggesting that it could not spare any other staff to work alongside specialist call centre staff for a limited period of time? Even better, what’s to stop senior police chiefs filling the void? They would soon realise that the public would prefer more front line officers on patrol or manning the phones – and at the expense of police bureaucrats if necessary.