Big, big trouble.
The island nation of England is waking up this morning to a scandal so sticky, so damning, that its sort has not been seen since Rupert Murdoch tapped royal phones and had a little listen in. A bit of eavesdrop and biscuits. Nasty business. The epicenter of these troubles happen to be Cornwall, there on the pendulum’s western bit, where “Operation Surfwell” has been uncovered by a rightly furious wife.
Per Cornwall Live:
With Cornish householders paying extra council tax to fund policing and officer numbers still not back to their pre-austerity level, a policeman’s wife has voiced her horror at discovering ten full-time officers are being funded to run surfing lessons rather than fight crime – at a potential cost to the public of more than £450,000 a year.
A response to her Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that ‘Operation Surfwell’, which offers surfing as therapy for emergency services personnel and has been running for three years, cost £68,348 in 2021-22, exclusive of staffing costs – likely to be a further £400,000-plus. Roughly half the bill was met from the force budget and the rest from grants (£32,382) and income from running courses (£5,530).
Ten full-time ‘sworn or warranted’ staff are assigned to the project, with a further five performing a “resilience function” on a limited number of days. Devon and Cornwall Police describes this as “a reallocation of resources” rather than an additional cost. Surfwell, which was first set up in Devon and Cornwall in 2020, was extended to the rest of England and Wales last year because it has proved its worth in helping officers and other emergency services workers overcoming trauma and become better officers for it.
The wife went on to say, “My husband is a police officer who’s constantly under pressure due to lack of staff and being run between job and job. He told me about Op Surfwell, which is a mental heath surf programme set up by the force, but I was disgusted to know that regular police officers have been taken off frontline duties to surf when I believe something like this could be outsourced.”
Or not outsourced. Just scrapped altogether.
It is too early to know if the calumny will be enough to sink the new Rishi Sunak government.