OPINION: Tory cuts responsible for rise in crime

Louise Haigh, shadow minister for policing
Louise Haigh, shadow minister for policing
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When the most recent crime figures were released, they revealed that recorded crime had risen at the fastest rate for an entire generation.

The last time our communities suffered a surge on this scale was 1992, the year of Black Wednesday.

In Lancashire, overall crime is up 13 per cent, while violent offences have risen 20 per cent, and public order offences have increased by 43 per cent.

The Tories like to pretend it has nothing to do with them; they insist it’s just coincidence that after they cut over 21,000 police officers crime is starting to rocket. But ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a bobby on the beat in your community? For many it was a very long time ago, last year two fifths of people said they never see officers on foot patrol, and the truth is our communities are exposed.

So with our police at breaking point, what have the Tories chosen to do?

Rather than give our police the funding they have asked for to fight soaring crime and keep us safe, the Tories chose instead to slash Home Office support to local forces by £100m in real terms over the next year. To put that into context, that money would pay for about 2,000 police officers nationwide.

To add insult to injury they expect hard-pressed local taxpayers to cover the cost of those real terms cuts. Forces which have seen the biggest loss in officers will gain the least from this plan.

The Government cannot say they weren’t warned about the consequences of doing this. The UK’s most senior police chiefs wrote to Ministers last year and told them in no uncertain terms that if the police weren’t properly funded it would “expose gaps in the protection of the public”, neighbourhood policing would all but fade away, and you can forget about the fight against anti-social behaviour.

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw says: “Demand on the policing service continues to increase and it is disappointing that the Government have not responded to this with central funding, instead passing the buck onto local taxpayers. This is not the answer to the funding of policing – it is a short term, unsustainable fix which papers over some of the cracks caused by years of austerity.”

Tomorrow, all Lancashire MPs will have the chance to vote in the House of Commons on Conservative plans for yet another year of real-terms cuts for the police. The police are dealing with soaring crime as well as filling in for cuts to other public services. Labour are calling on the Government to urgently think again and come back with a fair settlement that properly protects our communities. And we are calling on Tory MPs to stand up for their constituents by voting down Theresa May’s latest cuts to police budget. Tinkering around the edges after nearly eight years in which they have undermined and eroded the police simply won’t do it.

Labour has a plan to make Britain safer and protect our communities. We would recruit 10,000 officers to fight rising crime and restore the model of neighbourhood policing eroded by the Tories.

The first duty of any government is to keep its citizens safe. It is high time this government remembered that.

By Louise Haigh, Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley and Shadow Policing Minister