WARWICKSHIRE Police officers are the least “visible and available” in the country outside London, a new report claims.
According to research published this week by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, officers in Warwickshire spend only 8.7 per cent of their time out on the beat, compared with the national average of 11.8 per cent.
Coupled with the amount of money the force spends, this means Warwickshire residents get only 8.2 police officers or police community support officers (PCSOs) patrolling the streets for every £10 million spent on policing in the county.
Peter Cuthbertson, who compiled the report, said: “Some forces know how to get more of their officers on the front lines. Every £10 million spent by Northumbria Police gets 21 cops out, but in Warwickshire it’s only eight.
“If too many officers are stuck at the station because of red tape, the government should act. Our forces can do better than 12 per cent.”
The only force who spend less of their time out on the beat is the City of London force, whose police officers are visible and available for 7.2 per cent of the time. The highest is West Yorkshire whose officers are out for 16.3 per cent of their time.
Mr Cuthbertson said: “Not enough police are doing their most important job—patrolling the beat. The evidence is clear about what happens when the number of visible police in an area goes up.
“Crime and anti-social behaviour go down and people feel safer. That’s why it’s simply not good enough that less than 12 per cent of police are available to the public at a time.”
The research found that Warwickshire spends £100.2 million on policing each year, and with a total of 958 police officers/PCSOs, this means the total cost of each officer is £104,612, the second highest in the country.
With these officers spending only 8.7 per cent of their time on patrols, the Alliance claim the force spend £1.2 million for every officer or PCSO “visible and available.”
However, Warwickshire Police’s response to the criticism was to say that crime levels were falling in the county. A spokesperson said: “During April to September 2012 there were nearly 2,000 fewer victims of crime compared to the same period in 2011. And if you compare April to September 2006 to the same period in 2012 there were more than 7,600 fewer victims.”
However, there is the growing feeling among some members of the public that because of cuts limiting police resources, there is no longer any point reporting crime that will not be looked into. The force spokesperson said: “Clearly Warwickshire Police must prioritise how we respond to incidents according to the risk of harm posed by each incident. We always use all our resources available to reduce death, injury, loss, fear and distress and we do, and will continue to, focus our effort against those who cause the most harm to communities and on areas of the county most affected by crime and disorder.”
In response to the growing concern that there are fewer ‘bobbies on the beat’, she said: “Warwickshire Police recognises that visibility remains important to the public and we strive to continue to maintain visible and available police officers, PCSOs and specials at key times.”
Ron Ball, the independent police and crime commissioner for Warwickshire, whose first point in his election manifesto was that he shared the public’s wish for the police to be more visible and that everyone should have a locally based officer who they can easily contact and communicate with, said that he fully supported the police’s response.
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