Safety must never be compromised by funding cuts says PCC

POLICE reflective vestAfter a week in which Police and Crime Commissioners revealed the cost of meeting the rise in crime and protecting the public, Leicestershire’s PCC Lord Willy Bach said that safety should never be compromised as a result of funding cuts.

Evidence gathered by both PCCs and Police Chiefs shows that £440m extra is required in 2018/19 and £845m in 2019/20, an increase of 1.5% to 2% more than inflation in each year.

The rise in funding would provide an additional 5,000 officers to deal with increased local policing demands from new sorts of crime and increasing complexity, and an armed policing uplift of a further 1,100 officers.

The Government’s current funding arrangements, in place since the 2015 Spending Review, claim that overall police spending has been protected, in real terms, between 2015/16 to 2019/20.

However, due to the change in demand, the current “flat cash” settlement for local forces, which does not insulate them from inflation or the recent changes in the national pay settlement, is no longer considered sufficient.

Over the past five years police budgets have reduced by £2.3bn, representing a 25% cut in grant. Police numbers have gone down by 20,000, meaning there are less police on the streets. In fact, police numbers are at their lowest for 30 years.

Willy Bach said:

“The demands on the police are constantly increasing. Leicestershire Police received a record number of 999 calls on Tuesday (31 Oct) due to Halloween and a series of serious and resource-intensive incidents.

“During one four-hour period, the force received an average of one 999 call every minute.

“If it was just one night, that would be one thing, but it’s not. Crime is going up, nationally and locally.

“Crime is more complex, diverse and time-intensive than at any time in our recent history.

“We have fewer officers and we are asking more of them. We need officers to tackle issues such as cyber-crime and terrorism. The public rightly expect to see officers on the street.

“We need officers to investigate crimes and bring those responsible to justice. The population is rising. It is a perfect storm waiting to happen.

“I am quite clear that we simply cannot afford to compromise our approach to issues such as counter-terrorism, work which has naturally intensified this year, child sexual exploitation and on-line criminality.

“Policing terrorism is obviously as much about preparing for attacks and protecting people and businesses as it is about quickly catching those responsible afterwards. I know the force work hard at doing that and I want to see that continue if not increase.?

“The tragic events this year have seen a massive level of support come from forces including here in Leicestershire. We want to be able to continue to offer this support and any reduction in funding might make this difficult.

“I believe that nationally we need to invest in counter-terrorism activity. And that’s not just specialist officers, but the whole policing family who play such a huge role in intelligence gathering and response to the horrific attacks we have witnessed this year.

“Further budget cuts – otherwise known as the flat cash ‘protected’ settlement – are simply doing those who seek to protect us a disservice.”

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