In a statement made two years ago, Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum emphasized the need for more police officers in local sheriff’s offices and police stations. nonetheless, recent statistics reveal a concerning trend of fewer police man-years across police districts in Norway. A total of 166.5 police man-years have been cut between September 2021 and June 2022. This development has raised concerns among experts and officials about the impact on public safety and access to police services. The Norwegian Police Union fears that there will be fewer uniformed police officers on the streets and longer wait times for public interactions. Secretary General Per Erik Ommundsen of the Police Union warns that if this trend continues, it will become more difficult for the public to engage with the police. Sveinung Stensland, a right-wing politician, shares the concern and believes that the government’s promises of a stronger police force have fallen short. Despite the government’s allocation of an additional NOK 550 million to the police, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of the funding and the overall state of the police force. The Center Party argues that comparing figures from June 2022 with those from June 2021 provides a more accurate picture of the police force’s development. Nonetheless, the debate regarding police staffing and public safety continues amidst the ongoing challenges faced by the Norwegian police.
– There should have been more police officers at the local sheriff’s offices and police stations, said Center Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum to NRK two years ago.
During the election campaign in 2021, he presented a four-year escalation plan for more present police.
But since 30 September 2021 – just before the Center Party entered government – and until 30 June this year, there have been fewer police man-years in the police districts.
In total, 166.5 police man-years have been cut, shows statistics from the police.
Secretary General Per Erik Ommundsen in the Norwegian Police Federation is worried about the development.
– The speech is clear. We are now seeing downsizing, and this will have consequences for the service we are able to deliver to the public. We believe that the prioritization of the police should be strengthened, especially in the troubled times we are in now, he says.
The audience will notice the cut
The Norwegian Police Union is afraid that there will be less uniformed police in the streets and longer queues when the public wants to have contact with the police.
– What we have seen, unfortunately, is that there are cuts in police officers who are in contact with the public, from patrolling police to investigators and others who have important tasks facing the public, says Ommundsen.
– The public will notice that it will be more difficult to get hold of the police in the future if this trend is not reversed, he says.
Right-wing politician and parliamentary representative Sveinung Stensland is also concerned about the development.
He believes the police are being weakened under the current government.
– There is a very long way between life and teaching when it comes to this government. They said they would strengthen the police, and that there would be more police officers. The result after two years is fewer police officers and police officers out in the districts, he says.
– Has it become a more unsafe society under this government, with less police?
– That will be a harsh claim, but the police are there to solve a mission, and the police are there to keep us all safe. If the police themselves say that they are not in a positive condition to do their job, then it will be more difficult for them to create the security that we all want.
Get NOK 550 million more
The Center Party believes it is more correct to compare the June figures this year with the June figures in 2021. They will also look at all man-years in the entire police force – not just police man-years in the districts.
– There are over 600 more man-years in the entire police force, if you compare June this year with June in 2021. Those are the right numbers, believes party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum.
State Secretary Geir Indrefjord (Sp) in the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness also believes that the figures Vedum refers to give the best picture of the development in the police.
He adds that the figures at the police district level are far more uncertain.
– Some employees who previously worked in a police district now appear in the statistics as if they work in a special agency. For example, over 70 police man-years in the Royal Police Escort have been transferred from Oslo police district to PST, even though they still have the same job, he says.
– But right now there are fewer police officers in the district than there were when they came into government almost two years ago?
– I don’t think you can say that. The statistics on which the claims are based are strongly influenced by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and have a number of technical adjustments that make it difficult to conclude in that way. But what we do know is that we invest in the police, and that the police are important to people throughout the country, replies the state secretary.
The government gave an extra NOK 550 million to the police in the revised national budget. The Center Party leader believes this will strengthen the police district.
– The money will be distributed to the police districts during these days and during the summer. That makes it possible to recruit even more people, he says.
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