BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Should police numbers be cut?

06:16 UK time, Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The home secretary has said that police "must do more" despite planned cuts. Is this reasonable?

Theresa May has told the Association of Chief Police Officers that she would be "ruthless" in cutting waste, but that the number of front-line police could increase.

The association's president Sir Hugh Orde had said it would be "misleading in the extreme" to claim police numbers were sustainable in the face of cuts.

Should the police force face cuts? Are you a police officer? How would you restructure the police force? Would removing certain standards free up police time?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 8

  • Comment number 1.

    The party of Law and Order and Defence are letting down two areas which they traditionally relied on for votes.
    How recently did David Cameron say how proud he was of our Troops and would double their overseas allowance. Days later the Defence Secretary and Senior Army Officers declare that troop numbers are unsustainable. Now a senior Police Officer will tell his subordinates the same.
    God forbid we should have the civil unrest we had under previous administrations.
    Who would we use to control the masses?

  • Comment number 2.

    "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Even Mrs T worked it out that when you are cutting services and increasing unemployment that is advisable to be nice to the Police.

    It is also a fact that as unemployment rises and the opportunities to obtain a lawful income fall that property crime will also rise.

    It is also a fact that crime levels now are lower than they were 30 Years ago and some of this is probably down to increased Police Manpower.


    Incidentally I was a Met Police Officer throughout the Thatcher Years and I speak from knowledge not something I have read in the Daily Mail!

  • Comment number 4.

    Shurley shum mishtake.
    Dave said "And when you've got a problem with law and order and a lack of social responsibility - you send for the party of law and order and social responsibility".
    Unless he meant we should send for someone else.
    Maybe he intends to replace officers with "Hoodie Huggers"
    The Lib Dems are slowly morphing into Tories at least Nick won't have to bother with Manifestos and creating policies, he merely has to stand up and say "Yeah, whatever Dave say's"

  • Comment number 5.

    I would suggest that over the life of this Goverment, presumably upto the next election, it will be the case that the retention and/or recruitment of new Officers/staff will simply be discouraged. Through natural wastage abd the discontinuance of scheme whereby Officers are retained beyond their retirement date sinply wont happen.

    That of course brings into focus the question of the cost Police pensions for retired and retiring officers and the need to adequately police the 2012 Olympics, where the Met I'm sure will be looking for mutual aid from outside Forces, who might be unable/unwilling due to their own commitments.

    It seems to me, that a shift to regional policing will be the only way to maintain any form of resilience in order to retain local policing demands and spread the cost of specialist roles across a wider area, such as Firearms, Traffic, Major Crime Invesgation, administration, procurement and senior command teams, to name but a few.

    Ultimately the Police Service cannot expect and neither can the Public demand more Police on the beat if the country is pay off the national debt

  • Comment number 6.

    When poor stewardship by successive governments leads to degradation in services, why should the police be any different from core services such as health care and education?

  • Comment number 7.

    And THIS is the folly of the cuts. If we're running the risk of anything from widespread civil disobedience to full-blown riots in a potential summer of discontent in this country, then how can the thin-and-getting-thinner blue line be expected to cope when faced with cuts themselves? This is suicide.

  • Comment number 8.

    Since, for the last decade, most policing has been done from behind cameras - would anybody notice if their numbers were cut? In the last two months, I have seen one police car and that was kissing my rear bumper, presumably trying to urge me to go faster so I could be stopped for speeding. Can't remember the last time I saw a copper using feet to move around.
    There is something wrong though when we have to have tax rises and service cuts in order to keep the international aid ring fenced - what is going on there???

  • Comment number 9.

    Its not the police numbers that should be cut its there chiefs pay. The chief constable of south yuorkshire earns around 180k!!, why is he paid so much?, He should be paid no more that 70K, and to say he could earn it in the private secter is rubbish. The only jobs in south yorkshire which get paid these sums are the council execs and the police. The police also spend too much on "flash" police cars and there pensions are too high considering the age at which they can retire.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is no big deal really. Just get rid of every single worthless, "plastic" PCSO.

    They have the same powers as a cardboard cutout so you might as well fill the streets with carboard cutouts of PCSOs. Actually, not a bad idea. It would cut down on the vastly disproportionate number of complaints that are filed against PCSOs, get rid of all the untrained little thugs and make the world a nicer place.

    Then cut the ammount of paperwork real police have to do, get them out on the streets and get rid of stupid non-crimes like the generic "breach of the peace" (read: doing anything anywhere ever), end the war on drugs and stop buying Lexus' and Lamborghinis as cruisers.

    Sorted. Why aren't I Prime Minister again?

  • Comment number 11.

    Under what is to all intents and purposes a Conservative government, goodness gracious. One of the aims of past conservative governments was to have a strong, well paid police force in order to keep the plebs under control! (Poll tax riots, war with the miners) Perhaps the lib dems are influencing them after all.

  • Comment number 12.

    There should be a major review on what the police service should be for.
    over the last 30 years it has been nationalised and turn into a para-military force more reminiscent of the Gestapo, than the the keepers of the peace which it was intended for.
    It has now become so politicalised that few people trust its impartiality in dealing with law breaking.
    Like so many public services, centralisation has benefited no one except Whitehall.
    At street level, they are no longer keepers of the peace, proportional to the population we now have less police than at anytime since Robert Peel set them up. Yet we spend more on them. Now they they are over qualified; overbearing; and overpaid. As well as being invisible.
    We might as well have cardboard cutouts of overdecorated cars parked around the country. Interspersed with the DVLA's secret police and the TV licence secret police. Benefit fraud police, Health and Safety police and all of the other similar organisations. all of which cost millions and produce little returns.
    The Met was manned by literate Agricultural Labourers in its hay day their main qualification being common sense, a rare quality these days.

  • Comment number 13.

    I know it's an unpopular thing to say, but I'm pretty sure there is at least some wastage in the police service. There's over 52,000 employees in the Metropolitan Service alone yet how many people in London see a bobby on the beat? We see PCSOs occasionally, but they strangely seem to appear just before elections, then disappear afterwards.

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes, We need to get rid of most of the red tape that is taking up so much of their time. For every shift that is spent doing paperwork, another policeman is being paid to cover. Of course there has to be paperwork, but it is all a matter of scale. A 33% reduction of time spent in the office could result in a 25% reduction of staff and an increase in on-the-beat time! Is that really so hard to achieve?

    There are other savings that can be made too. Keep the cars a year longer, for example. And have a good hard look at Health and Safety implementations. Huge amounts of tax payers money are waisted across the public sector by misinterpretations of the rules. Like all these things, it just takes a bit of effort to get it right. Small businesses have to do that sort of thing all the time.

  • Comment number 15.

    SO who still thinks that voting for the Tories was a good idea? Party of the middle class???? bah. It's the same old Tories who will now push us into a Great Depression.

    Why cut everything now instead of waiting a year for the recovery to solidify? The reason is so that they can cut taxes before the next election. It is obviously not in the country's best interest to cut now. A very clear plan starting from next year would have been enough to keep the market vultures at bay.

    And say goodbye Lib Dems. You will once again be having your party meetings in the back of a taxi.

  • Comment number 16.

    What really needs to be cut (severely) is the admin overhead of the vast majority of business. Get rid of the tick-in-the-box mentality and let staff work more efficiently.
    This applies across the whole spectrum of business - not just the police.

    Once overheads are reduced, manufacturing businesses may just be tempted back to the UK instead of drifting elsewhere.

  • Comment number 17.

    **********************************
    2. At 07:56am on 29 Jun 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:
    "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!!!!
    *************************************
    And,idiot Govt. that actually knighted certain bankers for doing such a good job for filling their coffers off the back of all these bogus transactions. Oh and low interest rates which were the root cause of all this mess in the first place, promoted by .... erm.. ah yes idot GOVT. both here and in the US.

    What happens to these idots ? zilch ! walk away with fat pensions and lucritive directorships, sell books, make fees for spouting more hot air etc... no penalty what so ever and blame Thatcher, (always brought up) and someone else for all the woes.
    The system is totally broken where bad behaviour is rewarded at all levels of society.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    "15. At 08:28am on 29 Jun 2010, chris wrote:

    SO who still thinks that voting for the Tories was a good idea? Party of the middle class???? bah. It's the same old Tories who will now push us into a Great Depression. "


    Considering your beloved Labour Govt left us with no cash (their words) and massive debts I fail to see what the options are. Maybe you could enlighten us? Or have a whip round.

  • Comment number 20.

    'Current police numbers are not "sustainable" in the face of budget cuts, a senior officer will warn later on Tuesday.'

    And so it begins...

    The jostling between various parts of the public sector making a case for the general public as to why their budget cannot be cut.

    Expect similar announcements from the ambulance service, fire service and probably teachers within the next few weeks.

    Its the new reality as the cuts begin to bite...

  • Comment number 21.

    Unfortunately sucessive governments over the last 50 years have made policing more and more difficult. Until a lot of those decisions made are overturned reducing the numbers of police will not help society.

    To quote a previous PM of this country
    "...a man will drink with his neighbour one day and kill him the next unless society keeps him in order..."

  • Comment number 22.

    Lets face it the simple answer to the problem is to return the police to local control and let the local community recruit and decide what they want and how to achieve it.
    The balance between national security and local requirements has become out of kilter. The former has been increased at the expense of the latter.
    As usual, it has followed the assett stripping Whitehall Philosophy, Regionalisation - Centralisation - and now into phase 3; Privatisation
    Too many Generals and not enough Privates like all of Whitehall.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think it would be a better start to cap police pensions. Retiring on 50% of your final salary with a 2x final salary lump sum is very high indeed, especially for senior police staff who may be on over £100 000 per year when they retire.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    As unemployment rises and benifits are cut crime will rise, people having seen a shift in wealth to the top will feal less inclined to be law abiding so cutting police numbers would be sheer folly.

  • Comment number 26.

    So the "If I can get away with it" Society is morphing into the "If there isn't a copper around" Society! Instead of using smart (expensive) lawyers or pat-them-on-the head (cheap) do-gooders the anti-socials can have their mayhem for free. Goodbye the ASBO.
    The well-behaved majority will just have to pay individually when damaged. What was that ancient phrase - something about personal responsibility?

  • Comment number 27.

    How?

    I haven't seen a policeman for years!

  • Comment number 28.

    I did 8 yrs, 3 as a special (30-40 hrs per week on top of my day job),5 yrs as a regular PC,in an East Mids Force before I had a total breakdown. A close mate did 14 yrs then had a bigger breakdown than mine which involved standing on the edge of a cliff.
    It's not about the numbers it's about the quality of recruits. It would appear that the hierarchy want touchy feely types who'll try to reason with a nutter with a broken bottle in a pub fight rather than stick him on the deck before he hurts someone. When I did my tutors course they were looking to us at getting rid of people who weren't up to the job. I pointed out if that was the case they shouldn't have got in in the first place. (They weren't happy I'd said it) I thought that was the whole point of assessment days and final boards. Mind you the physical was a joke. From when I joined, to my final physical at the end of my probation I couldn't believe it. A one legged monkey could have passed it the standard had dropped that much.
    I worked with some good bobbies but worked with a lot more ineffective,lazy oxygen thieves. I had more respect for some of my informants than some of my colleagues.They didn't have to pass intel on and got nothing in return (they knew that they wouldn't get any cash as I was uniform)but they trusted me and I got some good drugs prisoners out of it.However some colleagues thought it was okay to swan about for 9 hrs in a marked vehicle, never stop a motor, never tip anyone up and heaven forbid they should take a prisoner. I got hauled over the coals for complaining about a PW on my shift who hadn't taken a prisoner for 6 months! I'd average 3-4 in a 6 day pattern. They were self generated from stop and search and drugs intel. Oh this was on top of the rubbish I had dumped on my crime queue which was rubbish like "someone broke my fence in the middle of the night". Hmm..is that more important than nicking someone you know is selling heroin? I thought not. Small wonder I burned out.
    Smaller forces? No. Just get quality in without looking for ethnic & gender targets. If someones got a fire in their belly to catch proper villains not ASBO types then give them a job. If not forget them and tell them to come back when they want to serve!

  • Comment number 29.

    Lewis Fitzroy (#2) writes: "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!!!!"

    Please do explain just how this is so. Evidence would be nice.

  • Comment number 30.

    Two main points: (1) There is a correlation between police manning levels and the criminal justice system they are there to support. When the 'burden of proof' bar often is set very high and the smallest of 'technical' errors in preparing a case can make it null and void, the resources required are considerable, because of the levels of bureaucracy and red tape involved in all but the simplest of tasks. (2) The historical structure and organisation of our police forces was designed to avoid them becoming 'politicised'. Since 1997, that has changed and the police, or at least their upper echelons, now are very much a part of government. Accepting that development, my suggestion is to maintain police manning levels, but reduce the number of Forces and their associated HQs and support staffs, based on the current ACPO regions to make this possible. Units within the Armed Services have had to amalgamate to save money in this way. I see no reason why the Police should be treated any differently.

  • Comment number 31.

    If the amount of Police personnel I see walking the beat or attending a glamour incidient are anything to go by we could lose up to 50% of our Police. Call the police to a burglary at your house and you will be lucky to see them withina few days. Tell them there is a fellow Officer in trouble and 30 of the buggers turn up. When they have addressed this lack of confidence the public may support them - until then they are just costing us a fortune.

  • Comment number 32.

    Why is this question being asked before the meeting of the Home Secretary and Sir Hugh Orde has taken place.

    Until the details of what is proposed is revealed, any comments are simply either kneejerk or speculative.

  • Comment number 33.

    Tory LIEM LIES, LIES. Remember the good old days when there was talk in Kent of private security firms setting up to patrol the streets of the wealthy because there were not enough "Bobbies on the Beat", long waiting lists to see a hospital consultant, school buildings being used to teach our kids in that had been condemned as dangerous and ready to collapse. and now here we are only several weeks into a NEW Tory govt. Who took power by the skin of there teeth backed by a Lib-Dem party that has showed it can match the Tories on lies, that I hasten to add will never be fprgotten by this country. Who took power with promises of safe guarding the front line workers, the young and the vulnerable. Now we see the Tories for what they truly are. Trying to roll back policies to the early 90s so they can continue the rape of this country for their own selfish benefit. Police numbers to be cut Hospital waiting lists lengthened, schools privatised, All under the threat of "we must do this or the contry will go bankrupt" but they find the money for their pet projecys IE Gove etc. Now I dont doubt that this country is in a bad way but it was NOT brought to its knees by Brown but by the greedy bankers as this is proved time and time again by different independant analysis, The Tories dont attack the bankers or close the tax loopholes that are exploited by the same bunch of greedy scroungers that are bleeding this country dry. OH no they attack the Front line services the old, the young, and the vulnerable . The very people they promised to protect. Well you lot voted for them . Happy 5th birthday. We will see how many small businesses are still trading or if your house has been repossesed.

  • Comment number 34.

    Typical of the postings so far, the police are undermanned, underfunded and should be given all the money they want.

    This statement from a senior police officer is a typical public service 'begging-bowl' press release to get the public on their side and stop or reduce the cuts they will have to face.

    Can we please have some facts about the police?

    Such as, how many serving police officers are on sick leave? One police officer had a campaign to get his estimate of 20% (YES THATS TWENTY PERCENT - 1 in 5 OF POLICE OFFICERS ON SICK LEAVE) to undergo independant medical checks. He was subject to harrasment and reduction in promotion prospects.

    Many ranks in the police are non-jobs. How can you have someone as an 'acting - deputy - assistant - chief constable'?

    When a police officer gets promoted, if he is no-good at the higher rank it is virtually impossible to send them back to a lower one. You end up with a load of empty uniforms, just crusing along to retirement.

    The recent case of a man who should have been arrested by a specialist squad but was allowed to go free for FOUR YEARS until the case was transfered to another squad who had him arrested, evidence found and a conviction in days. It just goes to show what a bunch of lazy, self-opiniated, canteen-culture beliving, failures we give our respect to.

    As far as the police go this is what I would propose, but be warned, the toriees tried some of these ideas back in the times of the mad woman and they failed to make any changes.

    Reduce the number of ranks, I would have only; constable, sargent, inspector, superintendent, chief constable. The authority is from the position (eg divisional commander) rather than from rank.

    Rapidly increase civilianisation, the transfer of jobs from officers to civilians ( I knew a young woman who did an administrative job previously done by a chief inspector). The moan that everyone has about 'paperwork' and 'red tape' would be stopped if the serving officers no longer had to do it.

    Publish figures for the ratio of officers in a headquarters against the numbers out on the beat/in patrol cars, (it should never be less than 1 to 5).

    Any police officer wanting to go on sick leave to have an independant medical, those found to be unable to work to be given an early pension.

    If the police want our support, they will have to earn it. They must stop being lazy, self-opinionated and jobs-worths and start realizing we just want them to do their jobs first, not when they feel like it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Why not have all cars fitted with a limiter so they can't exceed the national speed limit. Think of the Millions which could be save and police time not having to sit on the road side with radar guns.
    There would also be a huge cost saving in the road safety industry, Once they had removed the cameras and the clutter of pointless signs which now distract drivers.
    It would also mean that smaller greener cars could replace all the souped up expensive ones they now use.
    But I suppose that is too obvious to have penetrated the minds of Politicians and their friends in the city who must have their status symbols.

  • Comment number 36.

    No just a major restructure of what they have to do paper work and compliance wise towards making them MUCH more efficient. If that cannot be achieved then yes cut them until they do become more efficient.

  • Comment number 37.

    15. At 08:28am on 29 Jun 2010, chris wrote:

    >> SO who still thinks that voting for the Tories was a good idea? Party of the middle class???? bah. It's the same old Tories who will now push us into a Great Depression.

    >> And say goodbye Lib Dems. You will once again be having your party meetings in the back of a taxi.

    Not if it all works out. Sure this is going to be a bumpy few years, but if it's done right then we should come out of the other side much better for it. Although I voted for neither, I think that Cameron and Clegg have a better chance of getting it right than Labour (with their strong affiliations to the union movement and ingrained high-spending instinct) would have done.

    Labour did some right things, but it turned out they were anything but prudent in their handling of the economy which is why we bit the dust harder than we needed to have done.

    On the question of Police numbers: I think thinning out police numbers would be okay if there was a corresponding set of measures to simplify their tasks and indemnify them from so many of the encumbrances that add to their workload, or tie their hands. Scrap the endless statistics gathering that the police have to do and instead, simply poll local communities about how safe they feel and how they regard their local police. But, we should not reduce police numbers without reducing workload. That would be very dangerous.

    A good start would be reducing the number of police (or costly contractors such as the scamera partnership) whose job mainly consists of harassing motorists. Everyone can agree that policing motorists and road safety is essential, but in many places it's gone completely over the top (one suspects purely because motorists are a softer target than drug dealers or burglars) and could be trimmed back considerably. Backing the police off from motorists might also improve the public perception of the police: It's axiomatic that for many people their only contact with the police is in a traffic situation. That's not good.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 38.

    Crime statistics are falling in recent years, yet my Police element of the Council Tax goes up each year, far more than inflation.
    The Police have to find ways to save money as have any other public service and if necessary, prioiritise its resources.
    The main priority is to protect us from (and property) from acts of violence, ie get the real criminals of our streets.
    The Police spaend far too much time on easy targets.

  • Comment number 39.

    Chris (#15) writes: "Why cut everything now instead of waiting a year for the recovery to solidify?"

    Because we can't afford it. The solution to getting out of debt is not to spend more money.

    "The reason is so that they can cut taxes before the next election."

    Really? You are privy to their strategy?

    "It is obviously not in the country's best interest to cut now."

    "Obviously"? There is no unanimity on this opinion. Angela Merkel, for example, doesn't think so.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sort out the ridiculous police pension system today and there will be zero police cuts needed.

    A policeman who is in 10 years can retire on health grounds and get 20 years service ON TOP of his 10 years service.
    A 30 year pension for 10 years work is a joke.

    The last time I looked it up, 70% of policemen had taken early retirement on health grounds...quelle surprise!!

  • Comment number 41.

    No the number of big expensive police cars need to be cut and give these cartoon characters bicycles! and there is nothing wrong with the system, its the fact the government is trying to save money by not punishing the criminals with proper jail sentences! time we had high security long term prisons, and more of them, and its time courts did the police a favour by actually handing down proper sentences and not demoralise our police by letting them out on the street for our cops to then have to catch them again!

  • Comment number 42.

    I. Take the handcuffs off and let the police do their job without all of the stupid red tape and copiuous bureaucracy and paperwork.

    2. If everyone else must have their retirement age extended, then why not the police.

    Do this and the numbers game becomes irrelevant.

  • Comment number 43.

    The police force is famous for having the longest employment application forms of any employers, even for civilians or contractors working for them in any way.

    Why use 10 pages when one will do? It just shows us a glimpse of the nightmare politically correct bureaucratic paperwork nonsense of today. Where are our friendly local bobbies? filling endless PC forms - a tedium and apathy so bad, it is like sitting in custard.

    Ten to one is a good ratio, nine tenths dealing with the public, one tenth paperwork. I am sure it is the other way round, and the more that happens the more disconnected and alien our police force becomes and the less it works, cuts or not.

  • Comment number 44.

    if they cut the numbers we probably wouldnt notice anyway, when was the last time you ever saw a Bobby on the beat. All they would serve to do would be to clear out the Police canteens and local pubs of on duty cops.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    2. At 07:56am on 29 Jun 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:
    "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    No! Its the fault of the Labour Government that wantonly, carelessly, maliciously, misguidedly and dishonestly frittered the coffers of this country until they ran empty. And all the while as our previous government wasted our money, they were too blind to the horror unfolding within banking and frankly too stupid to do anything about it.

    Anyhoo... That said, moving on to the topic in hand...

    "How would you restructure the police force?"

    First and foremost, the fiasco that is the PCSO (or plastic policemen) has to end and this merry band of no hopers consigned to the failures of history. There is no point having people pretending to be police officers, not having the same powers as the police and from previous stories, to ill equipped to do the job that is needed.

    Diversity bureaucracy and general "back of house" bureaucracy has to come to an end. All for one, one for all! I do know of someone within the police who draws a handsome salary in a role that sees him trying to come up with ways to encourage people from ethnic communities into the police. That is money that can be used to pay a police officer. If the ethnic communities wish to join the police, they are free to do so.

    A return to meritocracy. One of the more insidious periods within police history was the use of "Positive Discrimination" This saw potential officers sidelined for policing roles simply because they were white. Frankly I would like to see all those hired as a result of Positive Discrimination, who are not achieving within the role to its fullest potential dismissed and their positions offered up on the basis of "the best man for the job"

    One national force with specific units governing certain areas, like city centers etc

    An end to political inference.

    But one of the greatest challenges to effective policing is the misguided and often damaging use of Human Rights laws which often end up favouring the criminal and their rights as opposed to that of the victim. This basically means that more resources and time are wasted as it’s harder to get a conviction and descent sentence, adds more levels of bureaucracy to gain a conviction and often sees criminals repeating crimes because of a lack of a suitable punishment as a deterrent for their crimes. Essentially Human Rights Laws to some are a green card to act with impunity.

  • Comment number 47.

    you can double the number of police and that wont reduce crime because being caught is not a deterent, being handed a measily 12 months and out in 4 months is no deterent, the courts need to take responsibility for giving murderers, rapist, racist and drunken thugs proper sentences and remove tv's and computers from prisons!

  • Comment number 48.

    Caithnessman (#25) writes: "As unemployment rises and benifits are cut crime will rise, people having seen a shift in wealth to the top will feal less inclined to be law abiding"

    Really? Are you, for example, going to go on a rampage?

    "so cutting police numbers would be sheer folly."

    The gullibility of some people! So the chief of the Met says that cutting his budget may lead to cutting the number of police, and everyone believes him! All he's doing here is trying to protect his budget, and using the media to spread baseless fears, the "close the parks and open the prisons" line of budget protection.

  • Comment number 49.

    Difficult times need difficult decisions to be made but before everyone gets over excited, unless I am mistaken, no one has yet said how many numbers of police will be cut and whether it will be those on the front line. So in effect it is a rather stupid question.

    Here are a few more HYS subjects coming to a computer near you soon:

    - Should teacher numbers be cut?
    - Should nurse numbers be cut?
    - Should soldier numbers be cut?
    - Should social worker numbers be cut?
    - Should university place numbers be cut?

    Same response.

  • Comment number 50.

    Odd this - at the first sign of cuts it's front line services that get hit first. The NHS is the same - at the first hint of cuts, the headlines appear - "Thousands of nurses to loose their jobs". It seems to me that these organisations have the "let's make it difficult for the government" mentality - you cut our budget and we'll screw you.

    Seems that most people in this country only care about their own little empire and not the country as a whole. Don't they realise that if the country goes down, they'll go down with it?

  • Comment number 51.

    Before I make a judgement I would like to see some figures, e.g how many jobs exactly are going to be cut? How many of these jobs belong to community beat officers?

    I would also like to know if the government has investigated how this will affect society and the nation's criminal activity.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well even Mrs Thatcher had the foresight not to "decimate" the police force.

    After all, she needed the police as an extension of the governments Iron Fist and used them illegally as strike breakers.

    Be warned.

  • Comment number 53.

    The Police have become a complaints department. If you ring up with a problem you'll be given a crime number and there's an outside chance someone will do something....or not.

    Reform should mean Police on the streets NOT sitting around in nice warm offices waiting for someone to ring with a complaint. They have more admin staff than you could shake a stick at so get rid of most of those AND all the CSOs because they're useless and pointless, THEN make the Police do some legwork for a change.

    ....and don't tell me Police aren't needed on the streets because we now have CCTV. CCTV will never prevent crime, it will only take pictures of it as it happens.

  • Comment number 54.

    If we wish to blame these cuts (and they're just the start) on the bloated public services or the plethora of benefit scroungers or the banks and their bail-out, then we are looking in the wrong place. We actually need to blame ourselves.

    Why?

    Well, for a start we voted for the successive Parties that got the country into this mess. We also believe this government when they tell us how skint we are. And we know, above all else, that there aren't going to be any riots this time. The problems of the late 70's and early 80's were down to a mass change of direction, privatising and stripping out manufacturing, causing mass unemployment where before there had been jobs for anyone who wanted. Since then we have allowed governments to buy us off with wider (not better) welfare payments and child-support arrangements and tax credits. We know that these aren't good for us or our economy so we moan a little while accepting that they really do need to go. And we realise that public sector jobs that sprung up through the extra benefit layers are no longer required, so we expect them to go in the big shake-up and so don't complain about the removal of services.

    And that's where we're blind. CSA came in. It's a horrible entity, though its aims are good and altruistic, but it'll never go away now. HMRC, the joining of Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue, has not streamlined and simplified, but grown and created tax credits. The Home Office hived off into the Justice Department as well, creating more jobs in support, and these won't rejoin. So the areas that will get hit are the ones the see most often - the "frontline" public services that most of us consider to be the whole of the Civil Service - police, nursing, teaching, defence. We forget so often about councils, foreign office, transport and all the others.

    So I make the plea (on deaf ears) for government to make a pledge. That within the frontline services there is a guarantee that frontline jobs will not suffer cuts. I mean that we should come out of this with the same number of doctors, nurses, teachers, firemen, policemen, and armed forces personnel as we currently have. They can be restructured (maybe taking on support duties to cover sacked "civvies", and posts like community officers, teaching assistants, nursing auxilliaries, should be in the mix for redundancies, but we have to hold on to our trained professionals. In other words, no, I don't think police numbers should be cut.

  • Comment number 55.

    Lynn from Sussex (#32) writes: "Why is this question being asked before the meeting of the Home Secretary and Sir Hugh Orde has taken place.

    Until the details of what is proposed is revealed, any comments are simply either kneejerk or speculative."

    Oh Lynn! How could you? Come here and spoil the fun with facts and reason. Really!

    Is there any way we can arrange for Lynn to be banned?

  • Comment number 56.

    I think personally to cut the numbers of actual Police Officers on the streets would be a very large mistake & would only suffice to be woefully proven as such.
    With cutting the costs I thought they were looking at the civilian posts in the force which in recent light of the per quota of how many civilians are employed in the force it seems that they could make cuts here & with the knowledge of some of these posts being contract based so costing more initial money so this would save there.
    I give you this example in factories there are now usually more office workers than people on the shop floor which a large portion could be done away with.
    I voted for Cameron & still would as this is the situation that Loony labour with their mad irresponsible spending & greedy banks have left us with this legacy for time to come yet,we are only starting to feel the pinch as a country.
    Lest we not forget the bank crashing & Black Monday were also helped by greedy nations such as the USA whose wreck less borrowing & inability to pay money back did not help.

  • Comment number 57.

    Recipe for disaster.

    Evidence that those in power, making the decisions are complete buffoons.
    They Are Not Fit For Office!

  • Comment number 58.

    i think the govrnments idea is a bad idea. fewer police will mean more criminals but too much of there time is spent with red tape and stuff and so if they want to cut the numbers of police then they must get rid of the red tape. the red tape is what wastes evrybodys time and the sooner the red tape is gone then the sooner the police can do what they do best... CARTCHING THE BAD GUYS

  • Comment number 59.

    no definitely not,its more we need,we need to make our streets safer,by cutting back we will not,

  • Comment number 60.

    So, it`s started. All the "vote for me and I`ll see you all right jack" has gone down the toilet along with all the other promises made by Cameron and his lapdog.
    All those who voted for change - will you have a job in six months time? And if you don`t who will you blame this time?

  • Comment number 61.

    legalise cannabis which will reduce police time by a considerable margin. That reduction will mean falls in police numbers wil not cause a problem.

    Also the billions generated in tax would go a long way to pay off the defecit.

    Simples.

  • Comment number 62.

    "President of the Association of Chief Police Officers". Now, this wouldnt be a biased view would it? Why have we got so many Chief Police Officers that they need an Association in the first place? Too many chiefs and not enough indians. Reform at the very top must be the first priority, target should be to reduce those that manage but dont actively police by at least 50%. That should be enough to ensure those who are actually policing are not affected. Next, tackle the overgenerous pensions paid to senior police officers at a rediculously low age.

    Yes, there does need to be cuts but not at the front end, it's the overheads that need to be heavily cut back.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think there is too much emphasis on the word 'cuts'.We would have a better mindset if we saw the answer to our problems as 'belt-tightening' We have to take on board the gross overspending that the last government has saddled us with.As a country we need to stop thinking about how much we can'make' to boost our salaries-the cash is not there for that. Instead we have to look for ways to save.In our domestic budgets there must be ways to do things more cheaply and we all need to grasp the nettle. The police force is not immune to the crisis any more than the man in the street so if there is to be no more overtime or double pay for this and time and a half for that then so be it.We will have to squeeze everything in to normal hours.Painful but possible.

  • Comment number 64.

    "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!!!!"

    The mistakes of the bankers were certainly the trigger for the recession, but the reason why cuts are happening is because we are spending significantly more than we are earning - and have been for a decade. That's got little to do with bankers.

    Perhaps you should direct your anger at those who increased the spending in the first place, while having no credible plan as to how to pay for it.

    There's nothing progressive about unsustainable spending, because it just means bigger cuts further down the line just when people have become dependent on such spending.

    There's no such thing as a free lunch.... these cuts are the payment for the excesses of the early/mid 2000s... with interest...

  • Comment number 65.

    On average, about 20% of current police budgets go to paying pensions. Regardless of how the pension arrangements work for any individual officer, think about that figure for a moment - one fifth of the police budget not going towards public protection or crime reduction in any way.

    Significantly reduce that figure for the police, and their budget problems are solved.

    Significantly reduce that figure across the entire public sector, and the nation's economic problems are solved.

  • Comment number 66.

    Conventional wisdom tells us that more bobbies on the beat the less crime gets committed. Politicians have always used increased police numbers as a vote winner. Labour, even though it presided over a very large increase in police, got around the expense of even more on the beat by creating cheaper community police officers. This has worked really well. Crime stats are falling significantly.

    Today's government is having to redefine conventional wisdom, having blamed the cuts it always wanted to make in public services on Labour. It is facing the prospect of presiding over a fall in numbers of police officers, with less on the beat. Even with efficiency savings by reducing bureaucracy and by passing the buck to the regions the ConDems are going to have to try and persuade us that actually less bobbies on the beat is OK. This will be fun to watch!

  • Comment number 67.

    I dont think its a case of too many police officers, its a case of too many targets,too much paperwork and too many backroom staff.
    Lets scrap targets and let the police be more proactive.
    Lets keep the police on the streets longer by removing all the paperwork they have to do. Lets have them wearing mini cams and tape recorders to be switched on when they make an arrest, take the suspect back to the nick and hand the tapes over to the desk sargeant who can then make the decision to charge/detain or release. In the meantime, the copper gets a fresh set of tapes and away he goes back on the beat.
    I know, its too simplistic they will never implement it.
    Lets make more use of retiring policemen and women by employing them a backroom staff. they have the knowledge, will need no training and get the job done, imo, quicker and better.

  • Comment number 68.

    Publish the government report into the effectiveness of the current drugs policy, as highlighted in Mark Easton's blog, and accept that the policy has failed and can never succeed.
    The need of police officers and prison spaces would decline dramatically.
    As a tax-payer I object to my taxes being wasted on nanny-state policies.

  • Comment number 69.

    I see Labour are all over the media telling us that they 'increased the number of police officers', but what they don't tell us is that almost none of them made it onto the streets due to pressure of Labour's very own form-filling culture. If the new government can get rid of 50% of this paper-shuffling nonsense, they can make cuts without taking a single patrol off the streets.
    Secondly, a poster states that 'crime is down on 30 years ago'. No it isn't - all that has happened is that many crimes (such as shoplifting and public drunkenness) have been effectively de-criminalised and are dealy with by way of an on-the-spot fine. Hey presto, recorded crime figures fall, but it doesn't mean the number of offences has dropped.
    Cut away the dead wood, the lazy pension-jockeys, the pointless paperwork and the skivers and see how much money you can save!

  • Comment number 70.

    Cuts of the type described are already well underway in my Force. This has meant a drastic thinning of senior ranks but sadly the workload remains. Ultimately any reduction in funding of this magnitude WILL have an effect on front-line policing and, has already been noted, this is a very dangerous time to be doing this sort of thing. In a few months time I will be retiring and after 30yrs man and boy wiping society's backside I will not be sorry to leave. If you think you can do any better then do the job. Yes I will get a handsome pension, but I have paid for it. Public perception is that the police pension is some kind of non-contributary gift - sorry - you are wrong. £474 is what I paid into my pension last month, proportionately the same every month for the last 30yrs. Believe me - I've earnt every penny of it.

  • Comment number 71.

    "1. At 07:51am on 29 Jun 2010, shillo wrote:

    The party of Law and Order and Defence are letting down two areas which they traditionally relied on for votes."

    Indeed. The Conservatives never were the part for law and order and defence. That's just a myth they like to propagate. Historically, both the police and armed services have been better funded under Labour.

  • Comment number 72.

    For those complaining about police pensions.
    Police officers used to pay 11% of their pay every month towards the pension. This was reduced to 9% about 5 years ago but you have to work 5 years more and get less at the end of it.
    The average life expectancy use to be 2 years after retirement, it's gone up, you might get 10 years.

  • Comment number 73.

    We have had a lot of contact with our local police because of anti social behaviour and we have come to the conclusion that the problems we have has nothing to do with the number of police or their willingness to help us. it is simple their powers have been eroded and the punishments are nowhere near tough enough. We feel that the small things need stamping on so these people get the very clear message that this behaviour is not exceptable and that they do not feel confident to try more and more criminal activities.
    before anyone accuses me of being a right wing facist or that our problems are trivial compared to someone being murdered, i would just like to say that our quality of life is being destroyed due to constant disturbed sleep and worry about the safety of our children, worrying about what damage will be done to our cars and property.I know we still have our lives but it becomes an exsistance rather than living.
    Unfortunately a life was lost on bonfire night due to three local yobs who were known to be a problem who thought it was ok to harass a family and then thought it funny to stuff a firework through their letter box.
    The effectivness of our police is more important than the number.

  • Comment number 74.

    >7. At 08:11am on 29 Jun 2010, 23 years 11 months and counting wrote:
    And THIS is the folly of the cuts. If we're running the risk of anything from widespread civil disobedience to full-blown riots in a potential summer of discontent in this country, then how can the thin-and-getting-thinner blue line be expected to cope when faced with cuts themselves?
    -----------------------
    If we're to have widespread civil disobedience then that means large numbers of the population are unhappy about something - personally my first concern would not be how efficiently those demonstrators can be silenced and kettled.

    No police force can resist anything like a reasonable proportion of the population and indeed, they are part of the population and sworn to serve and protect it and it's right to demonstrate, not to protect the tiny minority of the population that have (legally) stolen all the money.

  • Comment number 75.

    We need to double the police force.

    It is not good enough that the police responds only to murders or violent crime. We need a police force that can respond quickly to nuisance gangs and less serious problems. If those committing less serious offences are left alone they will become involved in more serious crimes later - then it is too late.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    We could cut the number of police, quite easily..

    If they have an abundance of silver braid - Get rid of them
    If the backside of their trousers is shiney (Desk-jockey) - get rid of them too

    Apart from ONE senior manager - every Bobby in a nick should be out on the street!

  • Comment number 78.

    The usual scaremongering. Perhaps if the police cut the huge burden of paperwork and administration and focused on responding to and solving crime then they might well find they have no need to reduce the number of active police officers.

  • Comment number 79.

    This statement amazes me they come out with the most stupid ideas ever
    They keep saying that they want to cut out the crime and with the next sentance they want to CUT the forces
    HOW IN HEAVENS NAME CAN THEY DO BOTH or are they miracal workers
    Because if they are then they can solve this monetry problem without US going through the mill
    How daft do they think we are

  • Comment number 80.

    Because of their excessively generous pensions and retirement at 50, a police officer can cost more to the taxpayer after he/she retires than while they are actually in post. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. If there are civilian jobs to be done in the force they should be done by those who are otherwise considered too old for front line duties.

    Other reforms I would consider when I become prime minister would be to press ahead with the amalgamation of county forces into regional units to reduce costs, and the creation of a national force for dealing more effectively with issues of internal security and organised crime.

    Finally, I would get coppers out of their cars and put them back on bikes. The stereotype of "fat cop" is very much founded in truth.

  • Comment number 81.

    One of the major problems within the police is that it is very difficult to get rid of poor performing individuals because of the strong unionised environment that exists. Like all large organisations there is a large pool of people who are not pulling their weight and they need to be weeded out. There is no doubt that if the forces were allowed to remove poor performers, after having gone through the correct processes, that a) the number of police would be reduced, b) those that remain would be of higher quality. This would give us a better and more motivated force that would be better value for money.
    A further is is that the qualifications to join the police are not very stringent. They should be raised significantly to improve the quality. Preference should be given to graduates and the requirements for non graduates should be increased.
    The current proposal for the Metropolitan Police that all recruitment is stopped and the only way in is via being a special constable is laughable. As they only have to do two days a month for two years this means that someone with 48 days of unpaid experience and very little training becomes a police officer with all the associated powers. That is an idea dreamed up by a demented accountant.

  • Comment number 82.

    The colour may have changed to the sickly green mix of blue and yellow, but the dangerous dogma of conservatism lurks threateningly as the Coalition lines up to condemn us all to a slump. Have they not listened to the advocacy of the many economists who are warning against this level of austerity? Have they not listened to those saying there is a wave to catch and missing it will spell doom?

    There is a fairy story that goes "Once upon a time only the Tories could get us out of trouble...." It IS a fairy story. Didn't you hear the big sneeze before the story begun?

  • Comment number 83.

    19. At 08:34am on 29 Jun 2010, Rufus McDufus wrote:

    Considering your beloved Labour Govt left us with no cash (their words) and massive debts I fail to see what the options are. Maybe you could enlighten us? Or have a whip round.


    I bet Liam Byrne is sorry he tried to joke with the Tories he should have known they have no sense of humour particularly Dave, he takes himself very seriously. The government are jumping on the national debt using it to make the massive cuts they love and had every intention of carrying out.It was just that they forgot to tell us during the election campaign. Every country in the world has debts, our debt / GDP ratio is better than many but that won't stop the Tories. Cameron is constantly saying how badly off we are purely for party political reasons but he is in great danger of running the country down and putting recovery at risk. Hopefully the international markets will realise that Cameron is a chameleon and what he says means little.
    But your idea of a whip round is a good one I suggested it a while ago, I thought we could start with the Front Bench, the multi-millionare Tory MP's like Goldsmith and Rees-Mogg and others like Clegg and Laws then there are the press magnates and donors who are so keen on helping the Cons. We'd soon find out whether or not they really care about the country or whether it is more about clobbering the less well off

  • Comment number 84.


    A few points. In my local force the number of none Police employees, mainly based in headquarters, is enormous. Corporate Services, hospitality, central control rooms, strategic control, titles I don't even understand, policy analysts, a new and huge Human Resources Department - the empire building antics have been enormous and costly. There are about 1200 Police Officers, including a surprisingly large number of senior officers - that the public will see and that do the Policing thing. There are about 800 civilian employees.

    Start there ? Of course these employees are people with lives and families too.

    The 'most important thing in the universe' which was 'here to stay' has been the Policing Pledge - being abolished this afternoon I believe. Watch Senior Ranks go into reverse on that one then.

    I can understand the jealousy about Police Pensions, though there have been some misunderstandings. For some reason the government decided that they wanted an unfunded system whereas they could have invested the pension contributions somewhere (Icelandic Banks ?. This has made it more expensive, despite employee contributions of 11% There are no shift allowances, no extra for working nights, just the basic pay. Most of the famed bonuses are just for higher ranks. I think they can claim £30 for fingerprinting a decomposing body though, I for one wouldn't volunteer for that one. It used to be the case that the Constable Ranks had to retire at 55, now they are 'allowed' to work until age 60. The Pension has already changed for all new entrants and is significantly less generous.

    No doubt the tabloid nature of so many comments on this site will continue to ensure that this debate is more about whether the writer likes or dislikes the Police.

  • Comment number 85.

    The simple cost effective solution would be to open up the police service to international competition. Thousands of experienced well trained officers could be recruited from nations where our PCs salary looks like a lottery win. We could employ two foreign officers for the price of one UK plod, and we would'nt need to pay them a pension because they would be using their salaries to buy vineyards back home.
    The added advantage of this would be the imported officers can converse with our imported criminals without having to employ costly interpreters.
    There you are, no need to reduce the number of plods at all, in fact we could increase their numbers and still make huge financial savings.

  • Comment number 86.

    A pound to a penny Mr Osbourne will blame this all on the money going to the Disabled. Never mentions raising tax and cutting less.

  • Comment number 87.

    What impact has having the largest police force in our history on crime? Absolutely none. Crime figures down - I don't think so!

    What crimes are the police interested in? Not those involving thefts from my shed that's for sure. However, any given Saturday there are hundreds available for crowd control. Where there is potential to claim on insurance or in court the police remove themselves pronto. What kind of policing is that?

  • Comment number 88.

    No definitely not, George, (Sneergob) Osborne is planning a crime wave!

  • Comment number 89.

    I think the numbers do not have to be cut if we paid them sensible wages. We overpay our police and have done for years. If we paid them less then we could have more of them. Our police have it so easy compared to US police who cope with guns and drug gangs on a daily basis - yet our police are paid way more.

    We have also seen a decrease in what the police do for us over the years - they don't even fingerprint any more unless there has been a murder, despite the fact the taxpayer has paid millions to build a fingerprint database.

    How is it ok for them to be able to retire at 45 on a full pension ? That's a disgrace and another example of the UK taxpayer being taken for a ride. Cut their wages and reduce their pensions like the rest of us have had to endure.

  • Comment number 90.

    No way! More police not less! WE the British people want the money taken from the bums and dregs who infest OUR society, NOT from the good guys. Stop dole from the drug dealers and their families. Take the assests of criminals / drug dealers and give to the police. Cut the fat from other civil services who have created thousands of 'non jobs'. I am sure their are savings to be made in the police and greater efficiency by removing some of the last incompetant governments red tape, but keep numbers of bobbies high.

  • Comment number 91.

    No they should not be cut, cut the red tape and the paperwork needed for every arrest and get rid of the PCSOs. I want to feel safe on the streets and I (and many others I would think) would want more police as we used to have to move along gangs of youngsters loitering and causing trouble and have a word of warning to their parents.

    We used to have police asking why we were out in the evenings as kids and we would not dare to answer back without saying 'Sir', maybe the respect has gone now but it definately needs bringing back in schools and to adults in general.

  • Comment number 92.

    We need to cut spending, and there is an easy solution to this problem.

    Pull out of Afghanistan. The US can plug the gap. This will cut the defence budget, and we deploy our troops in support of our Police patrols. I was on holiday in the Bahamas several years ago and was helped one evening by a 2 man patrol, a police officer and a soldier, the soldier told me he was from the parachute regiment. There we are, a way of increasing police patrols whilst saving money. David, any chance of a job as a special advisor in government?

  • Comment number 93.

    THE POLICE CATCH THEM (HOPEFULLY) AND THE COURTS LET THEM OF SCOTT FREE IT MUST BE SOUL DESTROYING

  • Comment number 94.

    2. At 07:56am on 29 Jun 2010, Lewis Fitzroy wrote:

    "The police cuts are only the start, many others are in the pipe line. i.e Education transport. local gov, home office, its all the fault of the greedy bankers!!!!

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not entirely the banks fault but they do bear some responsibility. In the same way that if you were to give a five year old child a hammer and tell them to go and play. Don't be surprised when things get broken.

  • Comment number 95.

    There will always be enough police for the rich people's areas of course won't there Mr Cameron ?

  • Comment number 96.

    Ady writes. "A policeman who is in 10 years can retire on health grounds and get 20 years service ON TOP of his 10 years service.
    A 30 year pension for 10 years work is a joke.

    The last time I looked it up, 70% of policemen had taken early retirement on health grounds...quelle surprise!!"

    Nonsense, where is your source for that one ? At any time 6 - 7% of officers are on limited duties, working whilst recuperating but not well enough for the street, often victims of violence. In our local force 4 officers, all with just under 30 years service, went on ill health early retirement last year. That was the highest number for four years. And in the example you get the pension is reduced to take account of benefits claimable - and would only work anyway if the force could be proved to have done something wrong.

  • Comment number 97.

    The Police should take their share of cuts. The shortfall in cash terms could be made up by cutting the absurd and wasteful form filling that goes on.

  • Comment number 98.

    Maybe the goverment should stop purchasing the police BMW's, Range Rovers and other cars from expensive manufacturers, and use vehicles manufaured in the UK. The money they save can be spent on keeping our Bobbies on the Beat!

  • Comment number 99.

    I have a "structural Reform" for Orde...How about Getting all the lazy malingering longterm sickies in ALL the police forces Tested the same as what the cons intend to do to the GENUINE longterm sick and disabled in this country?? The Cons will as act the same as ALL the political rifraff have behaved for years in that they will remove benefits without redress or deliberately make it virtually impossible for the GENUINE cases to receive any benefits. It has worked for the politicos so why not in the Police also? I can think of many unemployed people who would be happy to do the job and probably for half of what police officers currently are on!Myself included.Also lets not forget that the police are the biggest beneficiaries of most if not all Council tax bills and this amount increases on a yearly basis!.I would suggest that Orde rethinks as i am sure that if he goes to the "HOUSE OF TREASON" all he will get in answer is the same B.S. that the Political rifraff have been feeding the rest of us for years!

  • Comment number 100.

    I sometimes think the people at the top belong in an asylum. Benefits are being cut (good thing because I'm fed up paying for other peoples inadequacies, like staying in bed, brat breeding etc) so the likelihood of crime will increase, now their talking of reducing police numbers. Solution, give the police a recorder so any offence can be recorded in situ, a clerk in the office can then prepare the report instead of the police doing so. Police should be out on the beat or on patrol, not preparing reports in an office.

 

Page 1 of 8

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.