Police in South Yorkshire spend just 25 per cent of their day investigating crime – because of pressure to mop up the workload of other agencies, the Chief Constable has revealed.
David Crompton says the police have become ‘the service of last resort’ – with incidents previously handled by other agencies now falling to them.
Budget cuts at other organisations mean fewer people to help those in need – and, when nobody knows who else to call, the police end up picking up the pieces.
“Contrary to popular opinion the force doesn’t deal with crime for the majority of time – less than a quarter of what we deal with is crime,” he revealed.
“Nearly half of everything relates to keeping people safe, missing people, people with mental health issues, all sorts.
“These are things other agencies are increasingly moving away from because of their own budget cuts. But it’s giving us extra work. And while we are spending time on these things we can’t spend as much time as we might want to on crime.
“Crime is the minority of our workload.”
But Chf Con Crompton said that, despite the force facing budget cuts itself of £50 million over the next four years, and 500 job losses including around 200 police officer posts over the next 12 months, his force is still managing to reduce crime.
He said the number of offences recorded between April and January has fallen by three per cent compared to the same period the year before.
The police chief admitted new inquiries into the Hillsborough disaster over the last 12 months, and inquests due to begin in March, had taken resources away as a dedicated eight-strong team is working on the inquiries.
The force has also been scrutinised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary over recent months – for the way it is dealing with child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, its plans to save money, and the way it hopes to maintain performance while cutting costs.
Chf Con Crompton said: “It has been a tough time but people should be reassured we are still bringing crime down, and getting some fantastic results on major investigations, despite the pressures and challenges we face which are unprecedented.
“We have also dealt with incidents such as the EDL march and big football matches, which involved hundreds of police officers and were all about keeping the people of South Yorkshire safe. These are also the kind of things that take officers away from investigating crime.
“There have been some tough days over the last two years, but every force would say that.
“If you want a quiet life South Yorkshire Police is not the place to come to work.”