West Midlands Police chief: Policing has reached 'tipping point' after budget cuts
Policing has reached its "tipping point" with slower emergency responses, more crimes dealt with over the phone and fewer offenders brought to justice, the West Midlands chief constable has warned.
Dave Thompson said the service is in danger of 'pursuing efficiency to the point of ineffectiveness', noting that force budgets have seen a real terms reduction of 19 per cent since 2010.
The West Midlands chief constable and national policing lead for finance and resources said the increasing threat from terrorism and organised crime, along with rises in the number of offences against vulnerable victims, meant more complex investigations.
Probes were taking longer than ever before as officers trawl huge amounts of data, Mr Thompson added.
He welcomed greater investment in tackling terrorism and serious organised crime, but warned that the change in focus had come at a cost to 'perhaps the most important parts of policing for the public'.
Mr Thompson continued: "Crime is rising and so is the demand on our service. The calls do not get answered as quickly as they did.
"Officers are not as fast at responding to emergencies and more crimes are dealt with on the phone.
"Fewer high volume crimes like thefts are investigated, and as a result fewer offenders brought to justice.
"The visibility and proactivity of neighbourhood policing is much reduced.
"Bluntly, our ability to manage the big threats and protect the vulnerable, yet still be the traditional police the public want and need, is becoming ever harder.
"We are in danger of pursuing efficiency to the point of ineffectiveness – where we can process the work but we're not detecting crime as we should be and not meeting public expectations."
He cited a recent report by the National Audit Office, which concluded that the Home Office's approach to overseeing police forces means it does not know if the system is financially sustainable.
Mr Thompson said: "Policing is at the tipping point – and we need to move on from here."
West Midlands PCC David Jamieson says that over the next two years the force needs 500 extra officers as part of an £85 million package required to tackle the region’s crimewave.