I called on the Policing Minister to ensure that the police have the resources they need to do their job. The chronic under-investment of the police has meant more officers are being used on overtime and this costs the taxpayer far more than through employing more officers.
The minister made two disingenuous points. The first was that I’m in denial over “economic reality”. I can tell the minister in no small terms that the banking crisis was not caused by Labour’s investment in local neighbourhood policing or education it was caused by the greed of a few in international finance wrecking the global economy. The second point made by the minister is that the UK Government have invested in policing this year. That is simply not true. We have seen a 20% cut in policing budgets in North Wales since 2010.
The Government simply doesn’t get it. Crime is rising because police officers are stretched. Continued failure to invest in our police will undermine our safety.
The UK Government’s public sector pay deal announced today is not good enough. It was announced that police officers would receive a 2% increase in pay, but with no central funding it will merely place more pressure on local constabularies.
According to the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales the staffing and employee budget for the force totalled £127,092,000 for 2018/19. When you increase that funding by the 2% promised by the UK Government it means that North Wales Police will need to find £2,541,840 to increase police officers pay. As this money will be coming out of the limited budgets already held by North Wales Police it means that there will be limited funding available for recruitment, which is much needed. Read more “Police Pay Settlement”
March 2019 is when we leave the EU. We only have 8 months left and the Government can still not provide the public with details on our security arrangements after Brexit.
EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant are key in protecting us. It allows our police to share intelligence with other EU nations and ensures that any criminal that has fled the UK after committing an offence can be brought back to face justice.
You would expect these two factors alone make the UK Government put our relationship with international security bodies front and centre of our negotiations. You would have thought that they would have a position by now. But no. Instead we have a government desperately fighting internal battles for supremacy on Brexit. They are not thinking with the interests of the country in mind only that of their party.
As a former policing and securities minister I can tell you how valuable our cooperation is with EU countries in tackling crime. Losing out on EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant will hinder the police’s ability to keep our streets safe.
Away from the House of Commons I am also a member of the Justice Select Committee. These committees delve deep into government policy and scrutinise the running of the country. Sometimes we focus on extremely detailed and technical matters and this week we turned our attention to the National Disclosure Improvement Plan.
This plan has been designed to ensure that there are safeguards in place to ensure that the police follow all reasonable lines of enquiry, whether they point towards or away from a suspect. Prosecutors must provide the defence with any material that undermines the case for the prosecution or assists the case for the accused. Proper disclosure is vital for a fair trail to take place.
Disclosure problems with police forces have been identified by Richard Horwell QC in a recent report and I wanted to know what the Policing Minister will be doing to monitor this situation.
One particular question I had for the minister was if in six months time he would be able to tell me how many of the 120,000 police officers have completed the non-mandatory training created by the college of policing. I pointed out my worries that this training was not mandatory and that the Home Office may be reluctant to provide figures – as they usually do.