13th June 2011
Mr Chris Herbert
Editor – Police Review
Police Review Letters
It would be easy to believe, given recent publicity, that Gloucestershire Constabulary is leading the way in increasing the number of officers we put on the ‘frontline’ despite our revenue budget being reduced by a massive £18m.
It has been much talked about within our own force and, indeed, several times on a national platform – including most recently at the Police Federation conference just a few weeks ago.
But what a difference just one word makes. It is true that we have restructured policing in Gloucestershire to put 15% more officers into ‘visible’ roles – but that is not an increase in our ‘frontline’ in fact we have reduced other parts of our frontline to do this.
HMIC recently defined the frontline as ‘those who are who are in everyday contact with the public and who directly intervene to keep people safe and enforce the law’.
Their definition includes those whose work is not normally visible to the public – like CID and a whole host of specialist functions – which are equally vital in keeping people safe from harm.
Over the next few years we will reduce our overall officer numbers by about 15%. Our focus is firmly on putting the officers we do have in roles where they can reduce harm and inspire confidence in policing. At the moment this is in visible positions at the very heart of our communities. But it would be wrong to lead either the public, or our own staff, to believe that is an increase in the ‘frontline’.
We will, like other forces, have to reduce our ‘frontline’. We have already centralised our CID function and our new structure has far fewer specialist teams. The scale of the cuts required means it is simply not possible for the ‘frontline’ to remain completely unaffected.
The terminology sounds straightforward but it is easily, and often innocently, misused and I feel it is important that what we are doing in Gloucestershire is not misunderstood in wider policing circles.
These are challenging times for all of us and Gloucestershire Constabulary is certainly no exception.