Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today unveiled her sixth annual report describing the challenges facing Merseyside Police.
Jane Kennedy has released her 2017/18 Annual Report after presenting it to the Police and Crime Panel, the body which scrutinises her work, at a meeting earlier today. Panel members, who had previously provided feedback on a draft version of the report, formally endorsed the 56-page document.
The report details the extensive work carried out by the Commissioner over the last financial year, between 1st April 2017, and 31st March 2018, and gives both the Panel and the public the chance to review and appraise her progress in delivering her police and crime priorities.
This year’s report contains a new section which highlights the challenges and realities of policing over the last year, following eight years’ of government cuts, which has left Merseyside Police’s workforce being reduced by nearly a quarter. It highlights the cuts that Merseyside Police have been forced to make since 2010, despite calls for service and crime continuing to increase.
Jane said: “Producing an annual report each year provides an important opportunity to reflect on both the challenges and the achievements from the previous 12 months.
“While a huge amount of good work is taking place across the Force, I don’t want to sugar coat the reality of policing in 2017/18. This report is an opportunity for me to explain that the landscape is now really challenging.
“There has been a huge reduction in Merseyside Police’s workforce - nearly a quarter since 2010. In the same period, calls for service have increased and crime is rising. Not only that, but the issues the police now face are increasingly complex. Cyber crime and fraud are growing issues, while the police are increasingly being expected to support other public services which have also seen significant withdrawals to their funding. Work by the College of Policing has identified that nationally, only 22% of incidents attended by the police are actually about crime.
“All of this is having a significant on sickness and stress levels within Merseyside Police. Police officers and staff are under strain every single day and that burden has increased as their numbers have decreased. Increasing sickness absence is a symptom of that pressure.
The welfare and wellbeing of officers and staff is a concern that the Chief Constable and I take very seriously. However, there is no substitute for having more officers available. Staff are already stretched to maximum capacity, we cannot afford to lose any more.
“The Chief Constable and I have repeatedly stated that unless new money is invested in the police service by the government, extremely difficult choices lie ahead as to how – and what – services can be delivered. The Force now has to prioritise what work it can do, and what services it can no longer to deliver.
“I will continue to lobby ministers to provide an appropriate level of funding to Merseyside Police. I will also continue to work closely with the Chief Constable to maximise the resources we do have to make every penny go as far as possible.
“Releasing my sixth annual report gives me the opportunity to once again thank the men and women of Merseyside Police, who do such a fantastic job often under incredible pressure. Despite all the pressures, the service they offer remains exceptionally high. Their professionalism, commitment and passion for the job continues to make me very proud and drive me forward as Police Commissioner for Merseyside.”
The report, which has been produced as an interactive PDF, includes infographics, diagrams and case studies illustrating the Commissioner’s work engaging with the communities of Merseyside holding the Chief Constable and his team to account, and delivering the Victim Care Merseyside service, which provides support to help vulnerable victims of crime to cope and recover.
The Commissioner has a statutory responsibility to produce an Annual Report and, as she has done for the last four years, Jane took the decision to provide a draft version to the Police and Crime Panel, so members could provide feedback and suggestions.
Jane added: “I’m grateful to the Panel for their constructive suggestions and I hope that the final report will be both useful and accessible to the public and to stakeholders.”
The full report is available to read below and feedback is welcomed.