Friday, 15 April 2011

Government’s huge 20 per cent cut to police funding is hurting frontline policing

Although crime has fallen, people in our area always tell me it’s still too high. I agree with them, because any victim of crime is one too many. That’s why I want to continue to see crime fall, as it did by 43 per cent under the last Government.

And that’s why I am so angry about the Government’s huge 20 per cent cut to police funding. They are cutting too far too fast and it is hurting frontline policing.

Labour recruited nearly 17,000 more police officers in addition to 16,000 new PCSOs, and the chance of being a victim of crime was at a thirty-year low. Yet now the Government has cut over 12,500 police officers across the country. Here in Lancashire our police force has lost 550 police officers and a further 250 police staff.

My priority as your Member of Parliament is to push for further cuts in crime. I want the Government to be getting more frontline officers on the streets, strengthening neighbourhood policing and taking a zero-tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour. Yet Ministers seem more interested in cutting police numbers than in cutting crime.
Because of the Government’s 20 per cent cut to the police budget our Chief Constable has been put in an impossible position.

Across the country frontline police officers are being lost, officers are being taken off the beat to do the jobs previously dealt with by support staff, and neighbourhood policing is being cut back. Overall the Government has cut over 12,500 police officers and over 15,000 support staff across England and Wales. Although these figures are huge, many of these losses are only for the first year or two and could get even worse.

The Government’s complacency over these losses is shocking. Chief Constables across the country have expressed their dismay at the Government’s decision not only to cut their budgets by 20 per cent, but to make the cuts in the first two years far bigger than the final two years.

Across the country the Government is cutting over £2 billion from the police, and has decided to take over £1.3 billion of that in the first two years. This makes it harder to deliver substantial savings which often take time to plan. The result is frontline police are being hit.

Labour’s approach is very different. We set out before the election savings that the police could make over four years, which were then approved by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary as being possible without impacting on frontline services.

The police cannot be exempt from making savings, but going too far too fast puts the fight against crime at risk. That’s why the numbers of police officers and PCSOs should be protected and why cutting crime should be a priority, not an afterthought.

I’ll continue to campaign against these cuts, and you can help by visiting www.StopPoliceCuts.co.uk, signing the petition and increasing the pressure on the Home Secretary Theresa May to stop and think again.