Yesterday Police minister Nick Herbert claimed that there’s no link between the number of police on the streets and crime, today he’s gone one further and suggested that volunteers could be used to man the front desk of police stations, which may be the government response to ever increasing police cuts.
Police Federation head Paul McKeever, argued that the role of desk sergeant is a skilled one which would be unsuitable for volunteers:
“You don’t know what is going to come through the door. I worked in one station in South London where someone walked in and said he had murdered his wife. You need real skills to deal with that.”
Shadow home secretary Ed Balls accused the government of attempting “policing on the cheap” and taking risks with community safety:
“Volunteers deserve praise, as do thousands of trained special constables. But when the government is slashing police funding by 20%, people are right to worry that volunteers manning police stations could soon become the norm across the country.”
“It’s increasingly clear that policing is just not a priority for the coalition government. But what do you expect when the Tory Policing Minister thinks there’s no link between the number of police officers and the level of crime?”
“The Tory-Lib Dem government wants policing on the cheap, but they are taking big risks with the safety of our communities.”
Of course the coalition government are quite sold on the idea of the “Big Society” – or at least the Prime Minister is – but this latest wheeze seems designed to place the ideological trimming back of the state and relentless public sector cuts above the needs and realities of fighting crime. This may well to a serious policy though. After all they need to replace all of those police officers who have already been cut.