Policing under pressure
Even as Avon & Somerset Police were working hard on a sexual assault case, linking incidents in Street and Shepton Mallet, two reports emerged that make depressing reading. Firstly the government announced that Police Officers would once again not receive the pay rise recommended by an independent board sitting to look at pay and performance for the Police Service. The board recommended a 3% rise in salaries but the Home Office will only agree to 2%.
Yesterday the National Audit Office also published a report critical of the funding of the Police in general. The report showed that funding for Avon & Somerset Police fell by 17% overall, but the amount of funding provided by central government (as opposed to top ups paid for by taxpayers in Avon and Somerset) had fallen by 30% from the tax year 2010/11 to today.
Faced with such a savage reduction in funding, it is hardly surprising that the NAO report noted:
- It took 18 days to charge an offence for the year ending March 2018 – four days longer than for the year ending March 2016
- The arrest rate fell to 14 arrests per 1,000 population in 2016-17, down from 17 per 1,000 population in 2014-15
- There have been fewer breathalyser tests, motoring fixed penalty notices and convictions for drugs trafficking and possession since 2010
- 33% of victims were not happy with police response in the year ending March 2018, up from 29% in the year ending March 2016
The incidents in Shepton and Street, that we now understand the Police believe may be connected, illustrate the challenges facing an increasingly small number of officers policing a large rural area with large distances between centres of population.
There will be a more detailed report on Police funding and policing in the October edition of the Leveller.