Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Labour will support neighbourhood policing, not undermine it like the Tories

We all rely on the police to keep us safe and protect our communities but the Tory-led Government is making it increasingly difficult for them to do this.

The police are doing what they can but the scale and pace of the Government's cuts over the last three years is hitting services hard, despite its promises that the front line would not be affected. In Lancashire alone, we’ve already seen the number of police officers cut by 410 (as of 31 March 2013), and across the country we’ve lost over 10,000 front line officers. Since March many more Police Officers have gone.

Neighbourhood policing is an integral part of the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour but a recent report has suggested that it is under threat and communities like Haslingden and Hyndburn could be the ones to suffer the consequences.

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens has this week published his Independent Police Commission Review – the most comprehensive analysis of policing for half a century - and it makes several recommendations on the future of policing in England and Wales, including a renewed focus on neighbourhood policing.

Neighbourhood policing was pioneered by the last Labour Government as a new way for police forces to operate. It meant police officers were more rooted in the communities they served, more able to prevent crimes instead of just reacting to them and more likely to work in partnership with local authorities, schools and the NHS.

But neighbourhood policing in Haslingden and Hyndburn could be under threat from the Tory-led government in Westminster. This could mean fewer bobbies walking our streets, responding to 999 calls, talking to local people in the community and working to make sure that our families are kept safe.

Policing – like all public services – is most effective when it reflects the views and voices of those it needs to serve. We need a renewed focus on neighbourhood policing that is rooted in the local community. Under the Tories we’ve seen police services grow more remote from those that they serve but the next Labour Government will work to make sure that this trend is reversed.

We need a new vision for policing in the 21st century that identifies new ways of tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in our communities, and neighbourhood policing needs to be an integral part of that vision.