This evening I had a conversation with a member of HM Prison Service, a Fire and Rescue Officer and a Police Officer. We spoke about how Government cuts are effecting each of them and more. The conversation was not only educational and eye opening, it was frightening!
The Government are, as we all know, making cuts very deeply everywhere. The public are told that these cuts are essential. They are told these cuts are manageable. They are told that these cuts will NOT affect the frontline services and more recently, despite hugely disputed and flawed statistics, they are told that these cuts are working in the public’s interest.
I am not at liberty to say whether this is true or not. My personal opinion (if I still permitted one) is that it’s not in the public’s interest. It is in the Government’s interest.I also do not believe it is working. BUT who am I to argue with Government statistics….
My Fire and Rescue friend told me how his section is facing unmanageable cuts. How they are being forced to justify their own existence (as if the Fire & Rescue service needs justification!!). Most of them are now retained and on call 24/7 (on a rota of course) and are having to move home to be closer to the station house in order to keep their jobs. Many are holding down second and even third jobs. They are facing station closures meaning they are having to travel longer distances to fires which obviously puts the public at greater risk. Not only due to longer response times but also through large heavy pumps being driven at speed to ensure they get to the call and protect and preserve life and rescue the public. Without these brave men and women putting their lives at risk we would all be screwed because, lets face it, who else is going to do the amazing job these men and women do?
My Prison Officer friend told me how her prison (and many others like it) are so severely low on staff that it is putting their safety and their lives at risk. I was told how prison staff are being forced to deal with violent prisoners alone and when it kicks off there are only maybe 2-3 other officers to assist. On a daily basis the men and women working inside HMP establishments are being beaten, bitten, spat at, stabbed and even being scolded by boiling hot sugary water. The reduction in numbers means they are even more outnumbered by the horrible individuals they are charged with “looking after”. When things go wrong, which happens more and more frequently these days thanks to Government cuts, it is the staff that get the blame or criticism. We have all seen the press reports regarding the group of HMP staff suspended recently because a terrorist who hacked one of our soldiers to death in Woolwich lost some teeth whilst being restrained for being violent in prison. They stand accused of assault and I am certain justice will come to the right conclusion. Prison Officers have set up a Facebook page called KNOW THE DANGER where serving HMP staff are passing on or posting true stories and incidents which they see as a real concern. They are forced to post anonymously. They are upset that none of these stories of assaults within HMP establishments make the national press despite how severe some of them may be. And how has the Prison Service and the Government responded to these stories and this Facebook page…? With threats of dismissal and legal action for “whistleblowing” very similar to the actions of the Police Service.
The Police Service, often hailed as “The finest Police Service in the world” and “The envy of every Police Service the world over” by Government, is being destroyed beyond all recognition. The old saying “Why fix what isn’t broken” has fallen on deaf ears within Parliament and although they think the Police Service of England & Wales is the best, they are STILL completely changing how it functions. Specialist units are being lost. NPT and Response teams are loosing numbers at a ridiculous rate. Officers are forced to attend dangerous and violent calls single crewed putting lives in jeopardy. Officers are being forced to work many hours overtime just to meet and clear calls and give the public the service they deserve as there are not enough Officers. Stations are closing and being sold. Policing teams are moving to council buildings or supermarkets etc as a base. Sickness, health and morale are at an all time low. They are being told to “stop moaning” about the cuts as it is unprofessional. They are facing the impending prospect of compulsory redundancy and are threatened with dismissal and legal action for speaking the truth. The public are led to believe, by the Government and media, that these cuts are working, service is the same and crime is down. It is spin and manipulation of stats and it’s only the hard graft of dedicated cops that keeps the public from seeing the true horror of these cuts whilst risking their health, safety and lives. They keep doing the job and keep speaking out because that is what the public deserve. HONESTY.
And it doesn’t stop with these services. Paramedic friends are telling me how they are working 12, 13, 14hrs + just to give the public the service they deserve. They are exhausted. They are ill. The morale is all but extinct. The ambulance service are turning out St John’s Ambulance staff in some places just to meet initial response targets. They are risking life and limb responding from call to call and transporting people to over populated and under staffed A&E departments. They are facing budget cuts and station closures like the F&R service which means public wait longer and Police Officers are actually having to transport people to hospital in an emergency because their own response times and numbers are massively over stretched.
Then there’s the military. Redundancy, betrayal, cuts, shoddy equipment, savings put ahead of soldiers lives, the insult of being made redundant and then asked “Would you like to join the TA”. Brave men and women giving and risking it all to protect our nation. Whether you agree with current deployments in the Middle East or not, these brave men and women follow orders and would be the ones giving their lives without a second thought to save yours if our national security was at risk or our nation was ever invaded.
Every single one of these “groups” is being savagely attacked and cut down by this Government. A Government whose leader stated himself in 2010 “We must remember we are not masters, but servants of the public…Determined to act in the public interest”.
All of these people do what they do every single day for you, me, us, THE PUBLIC. They are heroes. They are selfless. They are brave men and women with one common goal. PROTECT THE PUBLIC. They all face the same enemy and the same attack and I think it’s time they united and stood side by side not only with each other but with the public too.
Police Officers do their best to fight crime and keep our streets safe. They risk life and limb to protect life and limb.
Fire Fighters run headlong into fires and other dangerous situations risking their lives to save another’s.
Prison Officers are locked behind bars risking their safety with our nations most dangerous apprehended offenders ensuring they serve their time at Her Majesties pleasure and trying their best to help rehabilitate criminals to keep us safe when the Justice System spits them back out.
Paramedics put their backside on the line racing to our aid when we need urgent medical attention and are encountering more and more violence themselves.
And our Military make the ultimate sacrifice almost daily by giving their lives for our nation and would do it time and time again without hesitation.
In return all they ask is for PUBLIC SUPPORT.
Being a Police Officer, Fire Fighter, Paramedic, Prison Officer, Soldier etc is not simply a job. It is a vocation. It is a lifestyle choice. It is a culture. It is a society. It is a LIFE.
The public see on an almost daily basis a scandal or smear story in the media aimed at the emergency services (usually the Police) in an attempt to vilify them and justify the government cuts. They need you, the public to understand two things.
1. Yes it happens. Corruption takes place. Like in all societies and cultures you always have a few bad eggs who spoil it for the majority. But you must understand that this tiny minority of scum are just as equally despised by the majority. Not all Police are corrupt. Not all soldiers commit war crimes. Not all prison officers beat up prisoners and smuggle in drugs. It is a MINORITY and you should not believe the negative, inflammatory media hype designed to smooth over the risk this Government are putting you under whilst they pave the way for privatisation.
2. Without your support, they could not do their jobs. It is as simple as that. They NEED you to protect them once in a while.
All these people are what I have now named “PROTECTORS”.
Protectors live their lives to protect the public in one way or another. And due to the onslaught from David Cameron and his party it is time to call on you to PROTECT THE PROTECTORS.
Show your support any (legal) way you can. Write to your MP to demand a stop to the cuts, sign the ePetitions, tweet support with #ProtectTheProtectors, update Facebook showing your support, join them on their campaigns and marches, scream, shout and be proud to support those who protect you…. Any way at all you can support and raise awareness PLEASE do it. Even a simple smile, wave, beep of the horn or a “Thank You” next time you see one of these people in the street, at the shops, at a scene of an incident etc would make a little difference. The Military has it’s support groups. The Police and Fire Service do too. All these public services have their own internal support groups. However, it is time to recognise the nations protectors as a whole and show them all how much we appreciate what they do for us in times of extreme adversity.
They do the things they do to keep you safe, now please, do the same. They need your support. Although a single twig will break, a bundle of twigs is strong.
“Warriors are born from loyalty, love of neighbour and country, a desire to protect and safeguard. Their actions are precise, principled, determined and committed to act selflessly for the benefit of others”