The new Prime Minister must reverse Tory cuts to front line policing and invest in giving our police the resources they need.
Downing Street has pledged a new police recruitment campaign will begin in September aimed at recruiting 20,000 police officers. Home Office figures show that forces in England and Wales lost almost 21,000 officers between March 2010 and March 2019.
Boris Johnson was right to say that people want more officers in their neighbourhoods to protect the public and tackle crime. However, he supported and served in Governments which enacted brutal real terms cuts to the police. Police budgets were cut by £2.7 billion in real terms between 2010 and 2018, leaving police numbers across England and Wales at their lowest level in 30 years. Gwent Police saw its budget reduced by over 40% over the same time period, leading to the loss of hundreds of officers and staff
Gwent has maintained one of the highest spends on neighbourhood policing of any police force in the country, but this has only been possible because the chief constable and his team have done what they can to prioritise the areas that cause the biggest harm and because our local PCC, Jeff Cuthbert, has taken action and increased the precept. Meanwhile the Welsh Labour Government – which has no responsibility for policing – stepped up to the table and funded 101 PCSOs for Gwent. This was a hugely welcome intervention but should not hide the wider problem of inadequate funding for policing, which is in the hands of the Home Office.
So far what the Government has proposed is not a proper investment in policing, but rather replacing officers who were cut on their watch. The Conservatives have shown a total disregard for our police over the last 9 years, and unless they commit to an overhaul of their police funding strategy – and ensure that forces are properly resourced – the recent promises on recruitment will just represent another empty remark from a Prime Minister who has a track record of throwaway commitments.