Short-staffed police to bring in 10 UK officers

GUERNSEY POLICE are so short-staffed they are looking to bring in 10 officers from the UK secondment for the next few months to bolster numbers.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30085151)
(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30085151)

The force currently has 136 officers and 15 have retired or quit so far this year, including a number of senior officers with decades of service behind them. The average length of service of those leaving in 2021 is 13 years, slightly above average in a normal year. At the end of 2018 the force had an establishment of 151 and it has ended each subsequent year with fewer officers than the year before.

Police said the secondments had been driven by the need for officers to attend essential training courses put off over the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘With the current staff levels it is not possible to both maintain required staff levels operationally and still fulfil these training needs. Bringing 10 officers over from the UK will allow our permanent staff to complete this training, while their roles are covered.’

But it is also clear that the force is having challenges with resourcing. It reduced operating hours of its front desk recently, closing completely at weekends, and has shuffled shift patterns to cover frontline services.

Police said last month about the front desk: ‘Reducing front desk operating hours has not been solely driven by current resourcing levels, however this has been a factor as police management seek to deploy its resources in the most efficient and effective way to prioritise emergency response services.

‘Police officers are, and will always be, accessible at all times for those in our community who need our assistance.’

Police motorcyclists and one member of the neighbourhood policing team have recently had working hours changed so that their shifts align with other uniformed front-line shifts.

‘This change in shift pattern has been done to provide additional resilience and support front-line police officers at a time when we have a number of staff who are absent through essential accredited training commitments,’ the police said.

‘Our ability to provide training on- and off-island has been affected in the last two years by the pandemic and we must ensure our staff remain accredited and skilled to ensure service continuity.

‘Police motorcyclists remain police motorcyclists, as does the one member of the neighbourhood policing team affected. It is only their working hours that have changed to align them with shifts. These changes to some officers’ working hours/shift patterns are initially for a limited period, after which it is hoped they will be able to revert back to their normal shift pattern following our current recruitment campaign.

‘Changing shift patterns in this way is in no way a new approach to policing and has happened before. As with all organisations, we are always reviewing and adjusting staff deployments, and we will continue to do so in to the future. We continue to maintain our front- line services to the community.’

Police numbers have been bolstered slightly in the past few weeks with four new officers, who started training in September, and the force has also since run another recruitment campaign, and is lining up transfers of experienced officers from the UK. A number of experienced officers have been offered posts and are moving to the island.

The seconded police officers will be in the island from 1-22 December and 3 January to 31 March.

The Committee for Home Affairs has supported the move and the cost will be covered from the budget for Bailiwick Law Enforcement.

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