July 26, 2019
The Tory politicians who voted for brutal cuts are now claiming they’d like to reverse the damage they caused. But Boris Johnson has serious questions to answer about his so-called “promises” on policing.Prime Minister:How can we trust you on police numbers?When you were Mayor of London you promised 5,000 additional officers – but numbers fell on your watch because you were merely matching the numbers of officers who were leaving the force.  Labour revealed last week that police officers are leaving in record numbers with mental health and stress levels soaring. Last year despite more than nine thousand officers joining the service, 8,700 left hampering efforts to strengthen policing. Many forces are recruiting simply to maintain their current police numbers, thanks to the numbers of officers retiring and those leaving through ill health and early retirement.  The public will want to know: will we have 20,000 more officers on our streets – which would mean the Tories got us back to the 143,000 that we had when Labour was in office – or will this just balance those leaving the service in their droves?What are you going to do about detective numbers?The Inspectorate of Constabulary has warned we have a crisis in detective numbers. When you were London Mayor, you cut the Homicide and Major Crime Unit in the MET Police each year you were in office – losing a quarter of investigators. Your announcement makes no mention of the detectives who will be vital in lifting the solve rate for crimes which is now at a record low.Where is the money going to come from?Any money that’s gone to policing since 2015 has all been raised through extra council taxes – a drop in the ocean compared to what’s been cut from central government. When you came back to Parliament in 2015 you always supported Cameron and May’s police cuts – amounting to £2.7bn from policing since 2010. This year that extra council tax would raise less than 20% of that for the police.What’s more, raising cash for cops through council tax is fundamentally unfair, because the areas that have been most hit by crime are the ones that are able to raise the least.  West Yorks has double the population and four times the violent crime of Surrey, but it will only be able to raise the same amount from council tax increases for the year ahead.So, the question for you Prime Minister is – where’s the investment over the next three years going to come from? Tax rises or cuts elsewhere?Do you realise that police officers alone cannot solve the crisis?As well as the loss of 20,564 officers, there are now 7,370 fewer PCSOs, 15,185 fewer civilian staff, and 8,767 fewer special constables than in 2010 – but this announcement doesn’t address those losses. What I know from this job is that PCSOs are the eyes and ears of community intelligence, so vital to preventing crime.These crucial staff were also casually dismissed as ‘back office staff’ when they were cut. That couldn’t be less true. Increasingly they’re the people that respond to the public when they’re in need – they’re the forensic investigators, the call handlers, the community support officers and they’re just as much needed as bobbies on the beat. That’s especially the case when the nature of the crimes that the police are being asked to investigate is increasingly complex.  Prosecutions for rape, for example, are now at 4%, and it’ll take more than investment in the frontline to repair the damage that’s been done there.How are you going to tackle soaring demand on the police – caused by the years of austerity that you think was such a good idea?One thing that struck me most when I took up the role as Shadow Policing Minister is how much policing has changed since I was a Special Constable a few short years ago.  Increasingly, the police are being asked to fill in for the gaps in other public services  - they’re responding to a person in mental health crisis once every four minutes, looking for high-risk missing persons and often transporting people to A&E because an ambulance can’t attend.  Austerity is not over for the public sector, so the police will continue to have to carry on filling these gaps. They won’t be able to do the job we want them to do – prevent and respond to crime.What’s more, the huge rise in violent crime is at least in part due to an increasingly vulnerable generation of young people – left vulnerable because their support has been stripped away by the Tories and the Lib Dems – with your backing, both when you were Mayor and since you became an MP again. Thousands of young people are vulnerable to criminal exploitation by gangs because youth services have been decimated, Surestart and mental health services have been cut so aggressively, and there’s been an awful rise in school exclusions. All that has fuelled a rise in violence. Prime Minister – without a whole set of policies for the many and not for your banker donors – I fear you can’t possibly hope to stem the surge in violent crime.
Boris Johnsons Promises On Policing Will Never Stem The Surge In Violent Crime
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