In Parliament this week I spoke about how the UK Government has been soft on crime and has relentlessly cut funding for our police and the criminal justice system.
During my speech in the debates on the Queen’s Speech this week, I called on the Government to provide a long-term commitment on police funding.
The Government’s ‘Operation Uplift’ programme aims to gradually provide 20,000 new police officers – a gradual partial replacement for 21,000 cut since 2010. The programme will be centrally funded by the Home Office in its first year, but no clarification has yet been provided on how it will be funded in future years. Moreover, it is estimated that the programme will only take officer numbers in Gwent to slightly below their 2010 levels.
Speaking in the Commons, I said “While there are promises in the Queen’s Speech to increase police funding and some powers, it is the Conservative party that has been soft on crime by relentlessly cutting funding for police and the criminal justice system. Since the start of the UK Government’s austerity programme in 2010-11, the Gwent police budget has been reduced by 40% in real terms. As the shadow Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), said, cuts have consequences, and now the Tories are trying to pretend the consequences have nothing to do with them.
“The police and crime commissioner for Gwent has confirmed that they are still waiting for clarity on funding. He said that while it appears that the first year (of Operation Uplift) will be funded by central Government, there are still concerns about the Government expecting them to raise more through the precept, which would fall on local taxpayers. We need the Government to address how increased pension costs associated with the programme will be funded and, equally importantly, we need a long-term commitment. Our police and communities have been let down badly since 2010, and we need a Government who will show by their actions how much they really value the contributions of our police officers and staff and ensure that they are always properly resourced and protected. As my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) said, we need to ensure that his Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 is used to help our emergency service workers.”