Tory cuts to police compromise the security of us all

17 Feb 2018
Recent ONS crime data statistics are an indictment of this Conservative government’s policies when it comes to keeping our communities safe and secure, showing that police recorded crime is up 14 per cent — the highest annual rise since 1992, with knife crime up by 21 per cent and gun crime by 20 per cent.
These figures are truly shocking and show that that the Tories are failing in a basic duty to protect the public – with the types of crimes that concern the public the most all soaring.
Since 2010 the Tories have again and again broken their pledge to protect police funding, and these recent figures should have put an end to government complacency on crime.
Instead the Tories voted through further real-terms cuts, meaning that the pressure on our police force is about to increase.
While the police grant for 2018-19 promised “up to £450 million” for the force, Labour revealed that Home Office funding for local forces will be slashed by at least £100m.
There is no extra cash at all and with inflation this means there is a cut in real terms.
The National Police Chiefs Council has criticised the Tories’ settlement for “failing to fully meet the level of investment identified.”
Furthermore, rather than properly fund the police, the government has chosen to heap the burden onto local taxpayers by raising the precept.
This means that it is communities in the most need, suffering from the largest cuts, who will get the least.
There should be no winners and losers when it comes to public safety.
For many forces, particularly with a low council tax base, the amount raised by the precept will be effectively wiped out by the real-terms reduction in Home Office funding and broader inflationary pressures.
For these reasons, Labour voted against the cuts when they came before the House of Commons and we are continuing to call on the government to properly fund the police.
The decision to press ahead with these policies in terms of police funding is extraordinary in light of recent reports from chief constables that they are forced to downgrade certain crimes because they are so overstretched.
A growing number of services say they are at “tipping point” and will not be able to deliver a professional service if cuts continue.
An overwhelming number of police and crime commissioners and chief constables have expressed their deep concerns over the impact of continued cuts to police budgets and police force strength.
To give some examples: London “will struggle to cope with terrorism or disorder,” Northumbria is “getting very, very close to not being able to deliver a professional service,” Avon and Somerset is “at a tipping point.”
More generally, cuts also mean police will increasingly struggle to cope with terrorism.
Despite combatting a counter-terror threat which senior officers have described as “stratospheric,” counter-terror police have warned this year’s settlement will mean “tough choices” as ministers provided just half of the funding counter-terror chiefs requested to meet the demand.
The outgoing head of Britain’s counter-terror policing, Mark Rowley, recently warned the home affairs select committee that the level of demand is such that some counter-terror investigations are getting “no work at all.”
To put this into context, security services and police are currently monitoring 500 possible plots and 3,000 individuals. A decade ago the security services were monitoring 30 plots.
It is becoming clearer by the week therefore that the Tories are more isolated on police cuts and have again and again failed to learn that cuts have consequences and you can’t fight crime on the cheap.
The truth is that police budgets have been cut by £2.7bn in real terms since 2010. The are over 21,000 fewer police officers now than in 2010, leaving forces across the country understaffed and overstretched — police numbers are now at their lowest in 30 years.
Of the above, around 17,000 of those represent cuts to front-line staff, and over 6,000 community support officers working day to day in their communities have been cut.
This government holds the dubious honour of being the only one since records began in which police numbers have fallen every year it has been in office.
We need to be clear that cuts do have consequences, even if the government remains in denial.
The Tories have slashed police numbers and underfunded forces and show no signs of changing course — in contrast, Labour in government will give forces the resources they need.
We will restore 10,000 police officers, recruit 1,000 more security and intelligence staff and 500 more border guards. With long-term absences, voluntary resignations at record highs and a recruitment crisis for detectives, we will ease the burden on our overstretched officers by ending the pay cap and offering the consolidated pay rise they deserve.

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