“A departing police chief has used his farewell address to suggest his force no longer has the resources to “protect its citizens”.
Jon Boutcher, chief constable of Bedfordshire Police, attacked government cuts as he announced he would be leaving after five years in the job.
It comes amid a row between police forces and ministers over whether reduced policing budgets are to blame for a rise in violent crime.
In a statement announcing his departure, Mr Boutcher claimed that Bedfordshire Police had been the worst-hit force in the country.
“Policing remains hugely underfunded and Bedfordshire Police provides the most profound example of this as a force with the most challenging and complex demands normally only faced by metropolitan forces such as the Met, West Midlands and the like, and yet the funding gap has still not been addressed,” he said.
“I recognise recent efforts by the current Home Secretary and Policing Minister to reverse a long standing lack of police investment however I would remind everyone that it is the first responsibility of government to protect its citizens, policing must be properly funded.
“The consequences of previous budgetary decisions are now being felt by all of our communities. This must be addressed.”
Mr Boutcher earned nearly £123,000 a year, and will be entitled to a healthy taxpayer-funded pension. Last year it was revealed that two thirds of chief constables received a total of at least £1.37million in pension contributions in the last two years – with some getting more than £40,000 a year.
In March 2017 Mr Boutcher publicly criticised a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary which rated his force as the worst in the country for keeping people safe and reducing crime. It identified “systemic failings”, and deemed overall service provision “inadequate”, a drop from the previous year’s assessment of ‘good’.
In response, Mr Boutcher claimed: “My officers cannot cope with the demand and no-one seems to be listening. Something is going to give. Things cannot go on as they are. My officers are exhausted.
“I can’t tell you why they aren’t listening. I can only assume it is political.” …”