Making doubly sure the force is with you
STAFFORDSHIRE’S new ‘long arm of police law’ has an upbeat approach to the comings and goings of the county’s crime-fighters.
My colleague Matthew Ellis, voted into a new government-led role as the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) in last November’s nationwide elections, has already taken two decisive steps forward to free up historic shackles imposed on the force.
Force One: A controversial policy that meant police officers who had served for 30 years or more in Staffordshire had to retire has now been dropped.
The new PCC said scrapping Regulation A19, which has seen in the region of 150 Staffordshire officers as young as 48 forced to retire since the beginning of 2011, would allow the force to hold on to its most experienced and talented officers – and should be welcome news to Staffordshire chief constable Mike Cunningham.
Force Two: About 30 new officers are to be recruited to Staffordshire Police – ending a three-year freeze.
And the decision to start bringing in new blood for the first time since February 2010 would help drive down crime, said Mr Ellis.
Two hundred special constables will also be hired in unpaid roles for the force which needs to save £38.7m.
PC Andy Adams from Staffordshire Police Federation welcomed the end of the recruitment freeze.
Mr Adams said: “It won’t be a significant number but it’s a start and it will make a difference to the communities.”
PCC Ellis added: “The previous police authority policies meant Staffordshire Police had been operationally squeezed at both ends for some time with no new blood joining the force because of the recruitment freeze and a wealth of valuable experience being lost because of the ‘A19′ forced retirement.”
“My decision to scrap those policies wasn’t easy because of the financial pressures all public sector bodies face. But my priority is the effective policing of Staffordshire in the future and for that reason it is absolutely the right thing to do so that crime in our county continues to fall.”
“I’m confident that the financial savings still needed can be achieved through buying better, smart collaboration on back office services across public sector bodies in Staffordshire and utilising police buildings and assets better than ever before.
“It will be a challenge but one I’m certain we can meet by doing things in a more businesslike way”.
Since ‘signing on’ as your new deputy police and crime commissioner on New Year’s Day, I believe we’ve already made more progress in the first few weeks than the previous police authority did in the last three years.