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‘Austerity adding pressure on police’ says top cop

Police were called to the scene
Police were called to the scene

The top policeman in Nottinghamshire has said morale among his officers is improving after more officers joined the force.

But Chief Constable Craig Guildford said demand was still high, and austerity in other public sector bodies was adding pressure to his force.

The force is in the process of adding 200 extra front-line officers to boost the number up to about 2,000.

Speaking at a police and crime commissioner meeting, he said: “Morale in the force has been significantly boosted by our change with regard increasing the number of front-line officers.

“But let’s not be under any illusion that if you take that much money out of the system, there are still pressures on demand.

“Some of the pressures are as a result of other bodies having the financial pressures through austerity, because obviously we are the service of last resort.

“For example, most of the forces in the UK suffer quite disproportionately from increases in demand on the ambulance services. Quite often cops would say to me ‘it’s quicker to take them ourselves’, rather than wait for as ambulance.

“Obviously that’s being worked on at a local basis, but that’s an increase in demand.

“There’s also the impact around some of the reductions around mental healthcare and support for individuals living in a community.

“We tend to pick up the can for that, increasingly.

“So when you say around morale, I think morale definitely has improved but workload is still significant per officer.”

Mr Guildford went on to say that police in Nottinghamshire were “four or five times” busier than elsewhere in the East Midlands.

He also said increasing bureaucracy can have a negative impact on staff.

Speaking at the police and crime commissioner joint audit and scrutiny panel, he said: “I think morale is often sapped by bureaucracy. Officers often see bureaucracy in crime recording.

“We always deal with the incident and we always deal with the victim, but you now have to record more crimes from that incident than we had to previously.

“You are creating more work for those individuals. They don’t deem that very often to be work of value.

“They’re doing a good service by the victim, which is what we want them to do, but they see some of the additional bureaucracy as slowing them down somewhat.

“Increasingly, morale is building, but let’s not be under any illusion that the demand upon each individual officer is significant.”