Rebuild the service or watch communities suffer, former Police Minister warns Government
A former Police Minister has issued a stark warning to the Government – rebuild the police force to safe levels or see communities suffer.
Delyn MP David Hanson (Labour) says the ‘best police officers in the world’ have been let down by successive Governments who have continuously failed to invest in the force.
By doing so, the Government was shirking its responsibility to keep people safe, he wrote on Politicshome.com, adding that an increase in violent crime set against a drop in officer numbers was hardly surprising.
“Crime has risen while police numbers have declined,” he said.
“The Government must invest in neighbourhood policing or public safety and communities will pay the price.
“Upholding the safety and security of this nation should be the first priority of any Government
“A strong police presence is key to that objective and central to that is the idea that we must have officers on the ground, so rebuilding the police force to safe levels should be the number one priority.”
A cut of over 22,000 police officers and a loss of 40% of police community support officers has hit the force since 2010.
“Combine that with the record number of experienced officers leaving and we have entered a perfect storm of the UK Government’s own making,” Mr Hanson wrote.
““It is clear to all, especially the police themselves, that the cut in police numbers by the current Government, and the previous coalition Government, is simply unsustainable.
"Crime has risen, with violent offences and sexual offences seeing the sharpest rise.
“The thin blue line is already stretched and when you consider that of the 122,000 police officers currently employed there will only be a third on the frontline as the others will be either working in the back-office, on annual leave, or not at work that day due to the way their rota falls, the thinness of the blue line becomes ever starker.
“The Government contends that it is putting in new money; it is not,” he added.
“It says it has put in £460m a year, including the police precept. In reality this is a shift from central Government to funding by local police and crime commissioners.
"The impact of this means that very often the areas with highest crime have to raise more money from local taxpayers to compensate for central government cuts.
"The UK Government is simply shirking its responsibility."
The Home Office’s announcement that £970m has been found for police coffers next year will be examined closely by MPs he said.
“The pension gap may be met by this revised announcement. The devil is in the detail and there is still a massive requirement for additional frontline funding to support the recruitment of new police.
“This settlement will be studied hard before it ultimately is voted on in February,” he added.