As the latest police data to be released shows that crime is rising at accelerating rates, I’ve been calling out government ministers over the inadequacy of police funding and the impact this is having on local people.
I’m sure that local people will agree, as we’ve lost more than 1,000 officers in West Yorkshire, it is alarming that Ministers continue to brief the press that there is room for more cuts.
Questioning the Home Office Minister on police funding in Parliament, I echoed the concerns of the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police who has said “our officers are exhausted” and that policing is “not sustainable” in the long term without an uplift in funding.
Heedless of the concerns of senior police, in response to my question about how more cuts can be justified, Nick Hurd MP stated that ‘…the force is sitting on £91 million of reserves, some 22% of revenue.’
But Mark Burns-Williamson, Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire has rebutted this statement: ‘The reserves form part of the force’s legal obligation to hold contingency monies. Nevertheless, some £11m is being used this year alone to fund frontline policing. By 2022 most of West Yorkshire’s reserves will have been spent or committed to existing obligations.’
The concern is that, given the severe government cuts to the budget in West Yorkshire (around £140m since 2010) and the unprecedented demand on policing, this situation is clearly unsustainable.
Locally of course, we’re seeing the impact of these cuts. One issue that is a big concern currently, is dangerous and erratic driving. In Parliament, I’ve raised the impact of cuts to traffic police.
I’ve pressed the government on how they can expect to enforce new laws on dangerous driving, when nearly 40% of traffic police have been lost from West Yorkshire in the last five years.
These continued cuts are leaving our communities vulnerable, yet with talk of further cuts to policing, clearly the government have not got the message. When will the Tories heed the warnings of senior police across the country and recognise that these destructive cuts cannot be justified?
Originally published in The Press, 3 November 2017