Monday, 19 October 2015

Cuts to Police funding have gone too far

In this week’s Cornish Guardian, my column again addresses government cuts and the chronic under-funding of public services in Cornwall. It will be as follows:

Last week’s announcements by the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary related to their decision to close 34 police stations show that the funding reductions really have gone way too far.

This follows the loss of around 500 police officers and numerous civilian support staff, while the Police and Crime Commissioner has warned there could still be worse to follow.

Interviewed this week, the Commissioner’s Chief Executive told reporters that: “Until recently the plans were based on us having to make £29 million worth of savings but we are now expected to make an additional £25 million savings – bringing the total to £54 million.”

This is frankly ridiculous and I consider it unconscionable that local policing is being undermined by such devastating cuts.

And I also find it absolutely shameful that the cuts are being pushed through by a political party which, during the 2010 General Election that brought them to power, promised to protect policing.

I still have copies of their leaflets distributed in Cornwall at that time.

One stated: “We have done the sums and can say with confidence that we will … put more police on patrol.”

Another included a statement from the-then shadow Home Secretary Nick Grayling, who said: “It is dishonest to claim that we will cut police officer numbers. In fact, our plans to cut bureaucracy and red tape mean that there would be more police on the street, fighting crime and protecting local communities.”

Such mock outrage now looks pretty threadbare.

I have glanced through the 2015 Conservative manifesto to see what they are now saying about falling police numbers. They actually, somewhat cynically, claim that they are increasing the “proportion of officers working on the frontline …”

Talking of promises, there is growing anger that David Cameron has also gone back on his promise not to cut tax credits.

The Conservatives may claim that people will not lose out due to other changes, such as the increase in the minimum wage, but the Institute for Fiscal Studies disagrees.

The independent institute says that it is “arithmetically impossible” for families not to lose out from the cuts, while some of our poorest households could lose over one thousand pounds a year.

Surely it is time for the Government to rethink its approach on these two issues.

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