‘Welsh forces could follow Met into special measures’

Gwent Police Federation is warning that more police forces could follow the Met into special measures without urgent investment.

Last week the nation’s largest police force was told to do better by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and joins five others in the same unenviable position – Cleveland, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Wiltshire.

Christopher Back, interim chair of Gwent Police Federation, said: “It is a hugely significant moment for policing to see the Met placed into special measures for the first time since it was established in 1829. And for six forces to be regarded by inspectors as failing at the same time is something I’ve not seen before in my policing career – it is a sign of a crisis in the service.

“It would be tempting to think this only effects London or a few English forces, but the underlying causes are also present here in Gwent. Our most recent survey of pay morale found that two thirds of Gwent officers are dissatisfied with their pay and a third worry about making ends meet every day – nearly half say their morale is low.

“If we cannot retain these officers, if we lose their years of policing experience, we will struggle even more to provide the service the public requires. We need urgent action from the Government.”

Police officer pay is now more than 20 per cent below where it should be relative to inflation and officers have endured a pay freeze since 2020.

Steve Hartshorn, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, warned last week that policing is “on its knees” and we could see more forces going into special measures.

He said: “At the start of the budget cuts, we told the Government that cuts would have consequences. We were told we were crying wolf. With six forces now in special measures, I would say we have been completely vindicated on this point.”

“No matter how many times it is said by Government that it is putting money into policing, we are not seeing the longer-term funding settlements that would allow Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to plan properly and we are certainly not seeing extra cash making it into the payslips of police officers who are the only ones protecting the public against crime.

“The Government needs to act now as policing is in crisis.”