Sir Edward Davey MP: Chancellor must properly fund community policing and increase the policing budget set in 2015
The Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson writes ahead of his Westminster Hall debate on 'Funding for community policing' following the loss of 2,850 police staff and 2,150 PCSOs since 2015.
In the last two years alone our communities have lost 4,050 police officers, around 2,850 police staff and 2,150 PCSOs. We are seeing the police disappearing off our streets, clearing the way for criminals. After years of falling crime rates the latest statistics show a 13% increase recorded crime across England and Wales, and even steeper increases for violent offences including knife crime. That is why I am leading a debate in Parliament on the issue of police funding ahead of the Budget.
Last week the Home Secretary accused the police of being quick to ask for more money suggesting that instead they should be making plans to prevent crime in the first place. As if that objective didn’t require money and resourcing. In fact HM Inspectorate of Constabulary wrote in their report on police effectiveness that “the extent to which neighbourhood teams are diverted to other work is too often detracting from neighbourhood policing and limiting problem-solving opportunities.” The cuts have gone far beyond ‘efficiency savings’ and it is local communities that suffer.
The Metropolitan Police for example recently declared that they would no longer investigate low-level crime due to a lack of resources. This withdrawal essentially acts as a green light to criminals and can have a detrimental impact on the appearance and feel of communities. It appears that the Conservatives are happy to preside over the steady erosion of the British policing model that has served us so well.
Policing by consent relies on the premise that the police work in cooperation with the community and that they are a visible presence, building relationships, confidence and trust. This is vital to enable the police to conduct operations, with the support of the community, harvesting intelligence. If this disappears then a foundation of Britain’s policing model is lost.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary again, in their “Police Effectiveness” report last year: “We found that the position on crime prevention and local policing continues to deteriorate. In our assessment, local policingis the area of operational policing that shows the greatest decline in performance.”
So Liberal Democrats believe we need urgently to invest in our police, before it is too late. Local communities are best placed to understand and respond to local needs but it is clear that money must come fromGovernment to support them. During the election we pledged an extra £300 million for the police in each year of this Parliament. The Conservatives had nothing to say then - so perhaps it’s not surprising they are promising further cuts.
Yet with rising crime, growing violent crime and an increase in terrorist offences and plots, more police cuts now would be a betrayal of the police and the public. This month’s Budget gives the Government a chance to U-turn and change the police budgets set back in 2015, before this crime and terrorist upsurge. If they don’t, they will surely lose any remaining claim to be taken seriously on law and order.
Rt Hon Sir Edward Davey MP is the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Home Affairs & MP for Kingston & Surbiton.