The UK Government needs to review its strategy on police funding as a matter of urgency.
Gwent Police has been forced to deliver around £49 million of efficiency savings between 2008/09 and 2017/18, and has seen its budget reduced by 40% in real terms since the start of the UK Government’s austerity programme in 2010/11.
Since 2010, over 20,000 police officers, 30,000 police staff and 6,000 community support officers across the UK have been axed despite a promise to protect the frontline. In Wales alone, there has been a 14% drop in the number of officers on our streets over the last seven years. At the same time there has been an increase in recorded crime, with more complex crimes being committed – including new forms of crime online – and an increasing need to safeguard the most vulnerable in society. All of these factors place ever greater pressures on police time and resources, which makes the Government’s refusal to invest in our police absolutely indefensible.
Last week’s budget had nothing to say for our Police, and a lack of investment from the UK Government leaves local Police and Crime Commissioners with little choice other than to increase precepts to make up for the shortfall in funding. Indeed, if a reduction in funding from the UK Government continues over the next three years, around 50% of the budget for Gwent Police would have to come from the precept, compared to around 30% in 2008.
The Government must urgently review its policy on police funding – dedicated police officers and staff in Gwent and across the country deserve far better than they are getting from Ministers in Whitehall.