Camden police chief’s warning over £800million cuts to force

Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker fears an 'identity crisis' in police force facing huge cuts

Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker fears an 'identity crisis' in police force facing huge cuts - Credit: Archant

Camden’s outgoing borough commander has told of his concern about the effect of being forced to slash police budgets by 40 per cent.

As Det Ch Supt Richard Tucker is leaving Camden after three years, the Met announced that they are considering scrapping 1,000 PCSOs – the community support officers whose role is high visibility patrolling, tackling anti-social behaviour and gathering criminal intelligence.

The police chief said: “I do worry about cuts to policing. You can’t just take 40 per cent out of a budget. This is a massive chunk, and there will be an impact somewhere along the line.

“We are the professionals but we are being told what to do by central government.”

Asked about the potential loss of Camden’s PCSO’s he said: “PCSOs are on a different contract to PCs and everything is being looked at...I do mean everything.

Det Ch Supt Tucker, who regularly walks around Holborn saying hello to passers-by, said: “Sadly the days of a copper going down the street and talking to everyone without a specific task are over. Managers say it is not effective. That is a manager talking.

The police chief, who reads philosophy in his spare time, said: “I do a lot of thinking now. In many ways the police are undergoing an identity crisis. What are we? Why are we here? I think we are here to care for people. We are here to make the place safe and a better place to live. That is not all about crime statistics.

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“If you want to reassure someone that they are safe in the community it’s all about boots on the ground.

“Policing is a people job. People used to tell us lots of stuff. We had lots of informants. We used to have relationships with people. We don’t have that now.”

As he moves on from Camden for Waltham Forest at the end of this month, he will be particularly remembered for his own people skills.

He became a familiar face at heated public meetings to address concerns about a perceived rise in crime. One of these was featured in a recent BBC documentary series The Met.

What he will miss most about Camden? “It is a very civic borough. People are very interested in their local authority and their public services. That makes a refreshing attitude in terms of accountability,” he said.

His advice to successor, Ch Supt Penelope Banham? “Listen to people. The police lack a certain amount of humility.

‘‘We think we know best. We are there to work with and support them.”