THE island’s new Chief Constable has issued a stark warning about the possible impact of budget cuts on frontline police services.
In what could be seen as warning short across the bows to government, Gary Roberts said the Constabulary has lost 17 per cent of its budget since 2008/09 – and there was a danger that further budget cuts could hit either neighbourhood policing or the fight against organised crime.
‘Something has got to give,’ he said.
Mr Roberts made the comment as he unveiled ‘impressive’ figures for the seizure of drugs totalling nearly £500,000 over the last 12 months.
He told reporters at a press call held at the Sea Terminal that keeping the island safe was not just about policing at a neighbourhood level – and that there was a ‘real and growing’ threat from serious and organised crime, particularly from the drugs trade in Liverpool.
The Chief Constable said the Liverpool drugs gangs has changed their focus from supplying class A hard drugs like heroin and cocaine to Class B drugs, particularly cannabis – and this change of focus was believed to be linked to the lengthy sentences handed down by the Manx courts to traffickers in class A drugs.
He said that there was a perception that the force’s counterparts in the UK were not supporting the Manx constabulary in the fight against drugs but he insisted that nothing could be further from the truth – and significant seizures have been made at UK ports of drugs destined for the island.
In the past 12 months, 151.2g of heroin has been seized, with a street value of £15,128. The largest single seizure was 112 grams worth £11,200. Just under 30g of cocaine with a street value of £2,950 was seized as were 321 tablets of Ecstasy worth £1,605.
In comparison, the total weight of cannabis resin seized was 77,037.8g with a street value of £407,525.73 while the total weight of cannabis bush seized was 8,411.16g worth £59,867.04.
Last November, 69 nine ounce bars of cannabis were seized at Heysham port with a street value of £74,520 and only last month 56 nine ounce bars were seized worth £60,480.
Mr Roberts said: ‘We should be under no illusion. The very safety of our community and the quality of our way of life makes the island an attractive target for drug dealers.
‘Criminal organisations are actively seeking to establish a presence here. Keeping our island safe will therefore continue to require effective policing, both at neighbourhood and national levels.’
The constabulary’s budget has fallen from £15.8m to just under £14m – and a further 4 per cent cut is projected over the next three years. Staffing accounts for 90 per cent of the force’s budget.