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Report finds police unable to solve crimes


Front-line officers and staff feel stressed, depressed and are having to work under "constant pressure", a survey by the Office for National Statistics report conducted for the Home Office's Front Line review has found


The findings have been described as "unsurprising" by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who said investment in mental health support must come as part of sizeable funding package for forces.

West Midlands Police has lost more than 2,000 officers and £170 million in funding since 2010.

The ONS report, which has been released today, said officers reported being "overloaded, working under constant pressure, feeling less able to do a good job serving the public and solving crime, having increased stress/mental and physical health problems (including anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, other diagnosed conditions), and increased sick absence".

The job of response officer was described as "relentless" in a department that "can't say no".

"Response officers were said to sometimes lack the right experience and skills to serve the public well, or to be demotivated," the report said.

It also found there was a "recurring view" there were now more inexperienced officers and staff, with claims force leaders did not want employees with long careers to keep costs and sick rates to a minimum.

Rest days were "cancelled frequently", some staff found they had to be "ruthless" to secure time off due to low staff numbers, and overtime was said to be offered as an "incentive" that some could not resist as they struggle to "make ends meet", which affected their ability to rest.

The Home Office has pledged to look at shift patterns to give officers more time for personal and professional development, and to look after their well-being, as well as encouraging police bosses and staff to solve "internal bureaucracies" such as administration problems and inefficiencies.

It hailed the work as a "landmark review" and the "largest-ever consultation with police across England and Wales".

Mr Jamieson said the findings were expected due to the scale of police "cutbacks", adding: "It is unsurprising that officers feel they are overstretched.

"The Government needs to recognise the demand policing faces, increase the overall budget for policing, as part of a long-term plan for policing and sort out the funding formula so areas with high demand get the resources they need."

He also called for more investment in youth services and mental health support, "to cut down on the huge demands officers face".

In response to the report, Policing Minister Nick Hurd was due announce extra mental health support for officers today, while new guidance will be introduced to "take the strain off the front line" by encouraging officers to push back on "inappropriate" calls for help to share the workload from other public bodies.

This would free up police to focus on tackling crime and ensure vulnerable people got support from the right place, the Home Office said.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the findings were "the start of something which must make a positive difference".

The largest ever consultation with police across England and Wales and all they could tell us is what we already know. If the police want to gain the trust of the English people again, they must start tackling the grooming gangs preying on young English girls and crack down on the plague of crime destroying our capital city.