Tonight I voted against the UK Government’s police grant report. It was promised by the Government that they would increase police funding for the next financial year by £450m but in reality the Home Office have used this report to slash local police funding by £100m. This is because the Home Office have put in place a cash-freeze in their funding. The only way for North Wales Police to reclaim that loss of income is by requesting an increase in your Council Tax.
The settlement comes in the context of increasing pressure on police forces following an overall reduction in spending since 2010 of over £2.8bn, resulting in a loss of 21,000 officers. For many police forces. particularly ones with low Council Tax bases such as ours, the amount raised by the precept will be effectively wiped out by the real-terms reduction in Home Office funding and broader inflationary pressure. Police Chiefs had warned the Home Office that a settlement which only covers inflation will mean police are unable to meet rising demands and “reverse the reduction in preventable activity.”
Only recently figures released showed that crime was rising in North Wales. Labour has pledged to hire an additional 10,000 police officers, 1,000 more security staff and 500 more boarder guards. Only buy giving the police the resources they need can we secure our neighbourhoods.
I condemn the new recorded crime figures released today (25 January 2018) which show that crime in North Wales is at its highest point in seven years.
Total crime in North Wales has increased by 6.77% since September 2010. Going from 42,632 cases in September 2010 to 45,521 cases in September 2017. The following crimes are now at a seven year high:
• Domestic Burglary: Increased 32.70%
• Homicide: Increased 18.18%
• Crimes against society: Increased 52.33%
• Sexual Offences: Increased 288.31%
• Theft from a person: Increased 31.30%
• Violence with injury: Increased 48.56%
• Violence without injury: Increased 156.48%
Read more “Recorded Crime Statistics: September 2017”
I am warning that the new police grant settlement proposed by the UK Government will mean that Council Tax will have to rise.
Today (19 December 2017), the Policing and the Fire Service minister, Nick Hurd MP, delivered the UK Government’s proposals for how much funding police forces in Wales and England will receive in 2018/19 financial year. What has been decided by the UK Government is to maintain police funding at the same levels as what they received for 2017/18. Although this may sound like funding levels have been maintained what this actually equates to is further cuts as inflation will erode away at the funding.
North Wales Police is set to receive a proposed £147.3m in 2018/19 and will be expected to use a combination of their reserves and increases in Council Tax to pay for the shortfall. Flintshire County Council is already seen huge pressures placed upon its budgets and needed to increase local taxation to try and make ends meet following UK Government cuts. The police precept increase will only drive up Council Tax bills further.
Using reserves may sound like a positive, but reserves should be used for one off expenditure. But the UK Government believe that the savings of North Wales Police should be used for annually reoccurring expenditure.
Since 2011/12 North Wales Police has had to deliver £29.62m cuts, representing a 20% cut in resources. This has resulted in an 18% reduction in the workforce and no budget has been unaffected.
Recently, the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner stated that they expect crime to rise in North Wales by 33% in 2017/18. This crime rise is no coincidence with the fall in police officers.
Yet again the Conservative Government’s policies in Westminster will make Council Tax increase in Flintshire. Instead of properly funding our police through central government funding they are placing the burden of costs squarely on the shoulders of Flintshire residents. What would have made far more sense is to spread the burden of policing costs across the whole country. Meaning that the wealth generated in the South East of England could be used to support communities like ours.
With crime expected to rise by 33% in the year ending 2017/18 it should be clear to everyone that we need more police on our streets. Community policing helps deter criminals and bolsters the links between police and neighbourhoods. This tackles crime at its root causes and makes policing much more effective and cost efficient. However, these cuts to policing will hinder the hard work of North Wales Police.
The proposals today are an affront to our community safety, our police officers and Council Tax payers. It demonstrates a UK Government that is only concentrated on the South East of England and a failed ideological project of austerity. I will not be supporting these proposals and will be calling for the UK Government to abandon them for a fairing funding deal.
I am concerned by the dramatic rise in crime both in England and Wales and locally within the North Wales police force.
Figures published today show that total recorded crime (excluding fraud) in North Wales rose by 7%, compared with year ending June 2016 to year ending June 2017. Not only that but the figures showed rises in:
• Violence with injury – Up 16%
• Stalking and harassment – Up 23%
• Sexual Offences – Up 27%
• Domestic burglary – Up 25%
• Theft from a person – Up 22%
• Misc. crimes against society – Up 17%
North Wales Police have seen their budgets slashed by the UK Government by £4.3m since 2010 and 138 Police Officers have had to be lost to try and cope with the loss of revenue. North Wales Police have witnessed the highest percentage rise in violence against the person in the whole of Wales, closely followed by Dyfed-Powys and South Wales on 18%. Read more “Rise in police recorded crime”