Today, I have given my support to the Labour party campaign to stop the police cuts by the current government. This campaign launch coincides with a forthcoming government announcement about changes to the police funding formula. The formula details how much funding Constabularies receive from central and local government and has seen cuts of more than 20% over the last five years.
Yesterday, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) wrote to the Home Office threatening legal action over changes to the way the police forces in England and Wales are funded. PCCs were introduced by the Coalition government and will be facing new elections next May, alongside Welsh Assembly elections.
The North Wales Constabulary has witnessed deep cuts to police numbers. We have reached the tipping point for Neighbourhood Policing, which was introduced by Labour and widely welcomed as it strengthened communities. From 31 March 2010 to 31 March 2015 North Wales Police Force has cut 103 Full Time Equivalent Officers.
Nationally the number of police officers has been cut by 17,000, including 12,000 in frontline policing, over the last five years. An independent review has found that the proposed changes to the police funding formula could see some 22,000 police officers cut by 2020.
Community policing has proved to be one of the most successful reforms to the police service in its history. People are able to know who their local bobby on the beat is, and feel safer in their neighbourhoods. Cuts on this scale to policing are unprecedented, and will see the final nail in the coffin for this much loved local policing.
We have already heard how some Police Forces are only able to investigate burglaries in odd house numbers, or not investigate at all. Police officers have been stretched, and these changes will see them unable to do their duty.
These cuts have been too deep, ill thought out and dangerous. The first role of any government is to protect its citizens, a role this government have so far failed to remember. If we don’t take action now in north Wales the real fear is that the police will find it increasingly difficult to do their job in all areas – not just crime issues but community policing, crowd control, road traffic and reassurance.