Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw has welcomed a national report highlighting the pressure on forces to ‘pick up the slack’ from other public services.
In his annual State of Policing Report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor raised serious concerns over the ability of police to cope.
His fears were today echoed by Mr Grunshaw who has repeatedly campaigned against budget cuts.
Sir Thomas said, “The police are considered to be the service of last resort. In some areas, particularly where people with mental health problems need urgent help, the police are increasingly being used as the service of first resort. This is wrong.
“The provision of mental healthcare has reached such a state of severity that police are often being used to fill the gaps that other agencies cannot. This is an unacceptable drain on police resources, and it is a profoundly improper way to treat vulnerable people who need care and help.”
Since 2010/11 Lancashire Constabulary have had to make savings of £76 million a year which is estimated to reach £92 million by 2020 as a result of budget cuts and increasing costs of policing
As a result of the budget reductions Lancashire has lost around 850 officer roles and 450 police staff
Mr Grunshaw said: “Finally, independent inspectors are seeing what we have been warning about for some time. Years of austerity have caused critical damage to our public services, putting the police under unbearable strain.
“Demands on forces are rising around issues like mental health, online fraud, sexual exploitation as well as emerging crimes like modern slavery and this vital work needs resources. The police are there to help people and keep our communities safe but the Government continues to cut our budgets.
“The Government must support the police to do this work. The resources need to be there for officers to do their jobs but other services have to be at full strength so people’s lives aren’t falling apart, leaving the police to pick up the pieces.
“I’m delighted that Lancashire continue to be rated as good across the board as their work is recognised by HMIC. Through the delivery of my Police and Crime Plan I will continue to hold the Chief Constable to account and ensure the police deliver the best service for Lancashire residents. Our shared ambition is to be consistently amongst the best forces in the country.”