OUT IN THE FIELD: The thin blue line is getting thinner

Police news
Police news

Fair play to PC Dave Elliott, or Billy Elliott as he is known among his colleagues, for putting his head above the proverbial parapet last week to speak out about “dangerously low” levels of staffing which are “not safe or practical” for frontline police officers. He spoke the truth and said what a host of other officers are thinking – that they are being asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources as the thin blue line gets thinner by the day. PC Elliott saying it like it is has prompted a flood of support from not only his colleagues but retired police officers who are unhappy that the police service they joined as young men is being eroded away. Among them is Kevin Moore who, like his father before him, joined the job because he wanted to lock up bad people: a no-nonsense top detective who was once the boss of Eastbourne CID before he moved up the ranks. His petition calling for Sussex Police boss Katy Bourne to prioritise the recruitment of police officers over police community support officers is gaining momentum. That this whole issue is garnering support is not in doubt but what is unclear is the message coming from Sussex Police and Mrs Bourne’s office about what is being done to reassure the public – the public who have become increasingly concerned over the ability of the force to be able to respond with frontline police officers to incidents. Seeing as a portion of our council tax goes on policing, Mrs Bourne has secured a considerable increase in funding for the new financial year of 2018/2019 through a rise. The message is we will have more officers and staff. But what is not being said is that it appears there is no actual increase in the numbers of police officers. All that the money will be doing is keeping the officers who would have been lost through central government cuts. Plugging a gap then? Moving deckchairs around? Maintaining a status quo? Standing still even? What the force needs and what the public wants is more frontline police officers. I have the greatest respect for PCSOs but they have as much power as you or I when it comes to arresting some ne’er-do-well – none. We have tried to pin the PCC down on what exactly the council tax precept will be spent on – frontline police officers or PCSOs. The message back has been, “The precept investment will mean new officers and staff taking additional posts in local policing. We will be providing more details of our future plans next week.” They’re either completely out of touch about what plans are needed or thanks to the likes of PC Elliott and Kevin Moore, they’re changing said plans. Hopefully it’s the latter.

Before I share this little pearl of wisdom I must point out I am not tarring all cabs with the same brush but there is a little problem with some unscrupulous drivers using ‘alternative meters’ via an app on their smart phone when it comes to charging passengers. Legally, drivers must charge the metered rates with a meter sealed by the council or approved persons and not some inflated price. Please pass it on.