Police chief breaks down in tears over budget cuts

A chief constable broke down in tears as he described making ‘difficult choices’ while trying to running a police force amid budget cuts.

Gareth Morgan, of Staffordshire police, said it was a ‘continual challenge’ deciding how to best serve the public with diminishing resources.

The police chief, who has 32 years of service, said: "We've had difficult choices to make about where you prioritise the limited resources that you've got.

"My job is to try and balance those competing needs. With what I've got, where can I get the best return to keep the public as safe as I can? And that's a continual challenge and I feel that very powerfully with the staff."

The father-of-two then said, "I need a minute", before bowing his head and wiping away tears.

Mr Morgan, 53, added: "And it is hard when you're trying to get that balance right. It does weigh heavily on you in terms of 'was that the right choice? Is this the right direction to go in?'

“But when I'm not here, and people are off doing this stuff, 24/7, looking after people, and I live here, I'm part of the community, they're doing it on our behalf, and I feel I'm responsible."

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He spoke to the broadcaster for a new BBC 2 series, Cops Like Us, which is airing tonight.

Staffordshire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, says the force’s workforce has dropped by 30% over the last ten years, from 2,400 to 1,670.

According to the Ministry of Justice, eight people convicted of terror offences in the last five years have been released and are living in the West Midlands or Staffordshire.

Terrorist Usman Khan, who was shot dead by armed police after a knife attack in London Bridge last year, was living Stafford at the time while out on licence for separate terror offences.

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The area has also experienced a growth in serious organised violence linked to "county lines" drug dealing and cyber crime.

Mr Morgan also described the difficult decision to shift some officers from a response role into neighbourhood policing and investigations to try and prevent crimes from happening rather than only reacting to them.

He said: ”Some of those decisions have been tough. It takes its toll on me. I think we should be open about taking difficult decisions and their effects.”

Last year Boris Johnson announced that police forces would receive 20,000 extra officers.

Mr Morgan said the increase would not make up for the loss of officers in the force, and continued: “It'll take us a long time to get back to where we were.”

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