Boris Johnson - playing politics with policing

In response to today’s pledge by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers will begin in several weeks, Marian FitzGerald, Visiting Professor of Criminology, said:

‘Boris Johnson has shown a cavalier disregard for the police in promising to recruit 20,000 extra police officers over the next three years. This has nothing to do with what struggling forces want or need.

‘The promise is calculated to appeal to the public. Yet, if he keeps it, with no commitment to fund other aspects of policing, the public will be paying a lot more for little observable improvement – whether in detection rates or in the service they receive if they themselves try to call the police.

Simply boosting police visibility will not deliver these improvements if the infrastructure which should support the work of frontline officers continues to crumble and no provision is made for essential improvements to the equipment they need to do the job. At worst, flooding the frontline with probationers could be a recipe for disaster in the absence of sufficient numbers of experienced officers capable of mentoring and supervising them.

‘In light of this, Boris Johnson might reconsider his promise and instead offer a more balanced package of investment in policing which takes account of Home Office figures which show that between 2010 and the end of March 2019 officer numbers overall had reduced by 14% but this average masks falls of 12% of constables, 20% of sergeants and 24 %of inspectors. Also, officers now in the frontline are far less well supported due to losses over the same period of 19% of civilian ‘police staff’ and 44% of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).’

Marian Fitzgerald is Visiting Professor of Criminology at Kent’s Crime and Justice Centre. She was formerly a Principal Researcher in the Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate. She is a regular commentator in the media on the causes and reporting of crime.

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