POLICE officers are spending too much time on paperwork since cuts to office support staff were made.
That’s the view of Hampshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file police officers in the county.
It warns that reductions in staff and back office cuts mean more police than ever are considering leaving the force.
John Apter, chairman of the federation, says the harsh reality is that some officers are so bogged down with administrative duties that front-line policing is affected,
Mr Apter said: ‘The cuts we are facing have been unprecedented.
‘The chief constable has made it clear that he wants to protect visible policing but the impact that stripping out back office functions and reducing police officers in specialist areas of policing we have seen is impacting on the front line.
‘We have sergeants now who have become administrative sergeants and we are finding the structure to offer support to police officers trying to do their jobs is so depleted that in some cases it serves no purpose any more.
‘I applaud the chief constable for wanting to maintain visible policing, but the visible front line can only function effectively with a credible structure around it.
‘But at the moment they are doing more and more with even less.
‘The pressure on police officers and staff in some areas has reached crisis point.
‘People still love doing their jobs and they want to do it but I’m getting contacted by more people saying that given the option to leave they would.
Mr Apter spoke out as hundreds of Hampshire officers prepare to take part in a protest march in central London.
As reported in The News, 650 posts – about 200 officers and 450 police staff – have been axed as Hampshire police battles to save £54m by 2015.
Police stations are being sold off, front desks have shut, and services including firearms, roads policing and dog units are being shared with neighbouring Thames Valley.
The force has already saved £36m – but another £18m is needed by April 2015.
Despite this crime has fallen for the fifth year running.
Last year, reported crimes dropped three per cent to 129, 327 from 133,462.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall said: ‘I remain committed to protecting the number of police officers and staff dedicated to local visible policing in our communities.
‘I do not want my sergeants to be tied to their desks.
‘I want them out there in the community as much as possible working on protecting people from harm.
‘We will continue to innovate, adapt and invest in new ways to work smarter and harder, including making greater use of mobile data technology, cutting bureaucracy and sharing services with our neighbouring forces and partners.’
Hampshire police officers will join others from across the country for the Police Federation march on May 10.
by CLARE SEMKE