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More arrests putting strain on 'cut to the bone' justice system, say police

PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:27 22 September 2019

Officers from Operation Moonshot quiz a motorist. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Officers from Operation Moonshot quiz a motorist. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Prosecuting criminals is putting a strain on resources after years of austerity have left the criminal justice system "cut to the bone", police have said.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve AdamsChief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

And after the announcement of thousands of new officers on the streets, Norfolk's police chief has warned more funding will be needed across the entire criminal justice system.

"With 20,000 extra cops on the streets we are going to have a shed load more work going through the system," said Chief Constable Simon Bailey.

"We have to have capacity in the criminal justice system and the courts."

The comments come as more arrests are being made on the roads by new mobile units.

As Norfolk Constabulary adapted to a new policing model in 2017, three new teams of 30 officers were established to patrol the roads proactively.

Operation Moonshot was first piloted in the west of the county in April 2016, and police have said it has had "exceptional productivity".

Police seized these drugs as part of Operation Moonshot. Pic: Norfolk & Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team.Police seized these drugs as part of Operation Moonshot. Pic: Norfolk & Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team.

The western team has now seized more than 1,000 vehicles and made 784 arrests.

Drivers they have stopped have received 412 years of disqualification and 44 years of prison time, paying out £100,000 in court fines.

Moonshot teams have also been established in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, with hopes for another unit in Breckland.

But the cost of equipping the officers and carrying out drug wipes is putting pressure on resources, the force has said.

And prosecuting more criminals is putting a "strain" on the whole criminal justice system.

Mr Bailey said around 100 officers in the force now have the "raison d'etre" to be proactive after the rollout of the new policing model.

A driver was pulled over, arrested and had their vehicle taken away under Operation Moonshot. 
Picture: Neil DidsburyA driver was pulled over, arrested and had their vehicle taken away under Operation Moonshot. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"Those officers are out tackling and addressing the threat of crime. We are genuinely taking the fight to the criminals," he said.

But he added as more suspects are arrested and charged, there has to be greater capacity for prosecutors and the court to handle those cases.

"As we increase our capacity to police we are going to generate more crime business, which means we have to have capacity in the criminal justice system and the courts," he said.

The Crown Prosecution Service has been promised an extra £84m after its budget has been cut by a quarter since 2010.

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Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC said it comes at a "crucial time for criminal justice" with a surge in violent crime and digital evidence.

The driver of a Subura was found with an extendable baton after being stopped by Moonshot officers and gave a positive drug wipe. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyThe driver of a Subura was found with an extendable baton after being stopped by Moonshot officers and gave a positive drug wipe. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

And Norfolk Police has had to slash £32m from its budget since 2010, with another £10m in savings to find.

"We are going to have to invest in more criminal justice staff," Mr Bailey said. "The CPS has [more money] because there is going to be more traffic going through the courts. It has to be across the whole of the force and the whole of the sector."

He added investment in back office staff and new leaders would also be critical.

"If we are bringing in additional officers we need more sergeants and inspectors," he said. "I am so cut to the bone in my financial team that as it stands I couldn't pay the implications of the uplift [of new officers]."

He said it is not yet clear how many new officers will be coming to Norfolk.

But he said: "I will be committed to doing my best to bolster my proactive capability."

A car seized by Moonshot officers in Norwich. Picture: Norwich PoliceA car seized by Moonshot officers in Norwich. Picture: Norwich Police

A Norfolk Police report, which has just been published, said any new officers recruited on the roads "could put significant pressure" on its budget.

Additional costs to recruitment include new vehicles, arming officers with Tasers, and funding drug wipes.

Supplying and analysing drug wipes now costs the force more than £200,000 a year.

The cost is currently spread across the fleet, I.T. and protective services departments, but also relies heavily on support from the Road Casualty Reduction Partnership.

If that funding were lost there would be a "significant issue" replacing it from the base budget.

The report added that more arrests is increasing the work of custody teams and criminal justice departments.

Supt Terry Lordan (front, centre) and the Operation Moonshot team. Picture: Neil DidsburySupt Terry Lordan (front, centre) and the Operation Moonshot team. Picture: Neil Didsbury

"This is a desired effect in terms of prosecuting more offenders, but does put strain on departments after years of austerity.

"This needs careful monitoring to ensure that any further uplift provides the necessary resources across the entire system."

It comes after chairman of the Norfolk Police Federation Andy Symonds said government cuts have gone "too far".

"It has taken 10 years of austerity to realise they have cut too far," he said. "It is going to take a number of years to reverse that."

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