The ongoing decline in police numbers presents us with an opportunity to rebalance public policy, our director Richard Garside writes in a letter published in today's Guardian.
A decade of generous police budgets up to the 2010 General Election, Richard argues, was 'disastrous for a balanced approach to public policy':
'Instead of a comprehensive network of youth workers, social workers and crisis health teams, we ended up with a proliferation of men and women in uniform with the power of arrest. Mainstream services were crowded out. Police officers took on a multitude of roles: probation officer, social worker, schools liaison, disaster manager, event steward, to name but a few.'
Budget cuts are 'a threat to the powerful police lobby'. For everyone else they are an opportunity to rebuild much-needed social institutions, he concludes.
A 'great' idea if it could happen, tweeted Lynne Owens, chief constable of Surrey police.