Librarians are being forced to do police work, thanks to austerity

Support us and go ad-free

A cost-cutting project has been announced which will see a police station closed and members of the public encouraged to report crimes at their local library.

The pilot scheme will run in the Norfolk towns of Thetford and Gorleston. The police public enquiry office in Thetford will be closed. Gorleston already lacks such a facility.

People who need to report a crime will have to use an online ‘self-reporting’ form, due to be available soon as part of a new police website. Library staff will be able to assist with the filling in of these forms, as well as “signposting customers to police services”. Lost property reports and enquiries will also be dealt with by the librarians, although the items in question won’t be able to be stored on library premises.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said:

The purpose of this pilot is to retain our public enquiry service in a more efficient, collaborative way. We are keen to retain such a service despite facing further significant budget reductions to funding. Over the last 5 years the Constabulary has saved £25 million to bridge the funding gap, with a projected deficit of over £5 million still to achieve. This pilot forms part of our work to realise these savings through more efficient working practices with our partners.

The move, which a straw poll in the local press suggests is likely to be highly unpopular, comes against a backdrop of budget threats and talk of cuts to police services. There has been a heated debate over the possibility of the Norfolk and Suffolk forces combining their control room operations to save money. Meanwhile, many of Norfolk’s branch libraries have faced closure or severe cuts to their provision. An atmosphere has been created in which any proposal which saves money without cutting jobs looks attractive.

But there is unease at the prospect of staff being expected to deal with issues far removed from their area of expertise and experience. Jan McLachlan of Norfolk People’s Assembly, which has supported the library service in its battle against cuts, summed up the concerns:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

This is what cuts mean, fewer and fewer public services with remaining staff under pressure, trying to deal with things they have not signed up for and are not trained to do.

The initial announcement, for example, contains no details of whether library staff will receive any training in the law, or in dealing with potentially distressed or dangerous people. The pilot will run for six months, with users asked to “complete a short satisfaction survey”.

Get Involved!

– Support your local library. It really is “use it or lose it”.

– Work with groups such as the People’s Assembly to oppose cuts both nationally and locally.

– Make sure your local political representatives know how much you value good quality, well-funded, public services.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed