The National Audit Office report on the financial stability of police forces in England & Wales, published this week, was a damning indictment of the UK Government’s cuts to police funding.
The report suggests that Government Ministers do not understand the impact of funding cuts on police forces, and describes the Home Office approach to police funding as ‘ineffective’ and ‘detached’ from the demands officers face on the frontline.
This latest National Audit Office Report shows how short-sighted the Government’s strategy on police funding has been. Since 2010, against a local and national increase in recorded crime, Gwent Police has seen its budget reduced by 40% . This has led to the loss of around 350 frontline police officers, and over 200 members of staff.
Meanwhile Home Office data suggests that police officers are getting older on average – almost half (46.8%) are now aged over 40, compared to around two-fifths (39.1 per cent) in 2007. This illustrates the importance of new recruitment. Gwent Police has recruited 176 new officers this year, but this has only been possible because of our local PCC Jeff Cuthbert taking action and increasing the precept for local residents.
It shouldn’t come to this, and it’s high time that the UK Government acted to ensure that all our police forces have the resources they need to meet the growing and changing nature of crime.