New research by Southampton’s Labour MPs today confirms that the Conservative Government have broken their pledge to protect frontline police policing and that there are already over 50 fewer officers patrolling the streets in Hampshire.
This comes on top of warnings from local police chiefs who say that the Government’s 20% cuts to the policing budget will result in a further 400 officers lost by 2015.
Figures from the Commons Library confirm that the number of full time equivalent front-line officers in Hampshire has fallen by 51 since 2010.
And John Apter, Chair of the Hampshire Police Confederation warned last year that ‘20% cuts would see 454 fewer police officers across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’
As recently as Autumn 2011 Tory Home Secretary Theresa May was still bizarrely insisting that the scale of her Government’s cuts to policing budgets would not result in fewer frontline officers. She said:
“We’re also going to help police by making sure that as we reduce budgets, we cut waste, not frontline services… Through better procurement, improved efficiency and a likely pay freeze, there is no reason at all why frontline police services should not be maintained and improved.” – (Theresa May, Conservative Party Conference, October 2011)
HM Inspectorate of Prisons figures show that 9 out of every 10 officers lost were from the frontline.
The revelation comes against a wider background of police cuts with police numbers set to fall by 16,000 by 2015.
Alan Whitehead MP said: “We are at the start of what is potentially a very serious reduction in the presence and availability of police officers on the ground in Southampton. This is not what the Coalition promised. I’d urge the Government to look again at how these cuts are being implemented and listen to local residents who are worried about what a noticeable drop in police numbers will mean for safety in their neighbourhood.”
Peter Skinner MEP added: “It’s incredibly worrying that Hampshire police officers have been cut. They are the frontline in the fight against crime and their loss is bound to have an impact on public safety in communities across Hampshire. Morale will be hit and stations threatened with closure. The latest crime stats show personal crime including burglary is up 11% – the largest increase in over a decade. David Cameron and the local Conservative MPs should think again about cutting police officers and put public safety first.”
The police figures are part of wider research showing that 90% of the police officers cut are being from the frontline.
Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said: “The Prime Minister’s claim that the proportion of frontline officers has gone up was both wrong and out of touch.
“Over 4,000 officers have gone from frontline jobs in the first year of the Tory-led Government alone.
“And these new figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police also show that 9 out of 10 of the total police officers lost in the first year were from frontline jobs. That means the proportion of officers on the frontline has fallen too.
“This Government is cutting the police too far and too fast. We have continually warned that cutting 20% from the police budget and cutting 16,000 police officers across the country would have a damaging impact on the frontline.
“The Government should switch to our plans for a 12% cut to the police budget so that the number of police officers and frontline services can be protected.
“The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary need to set out a plan to cut crime instead of just cutting police officers.
“Personal crime, including theft, robbery and violence, has gone up by 11 per cent over the last year – the steepest increase for over a decade. This is a terrible time to cut 16,000 police officers. The Tory-led Government is out of touch with communities on crime and public safety, and they need to think again.”Other news from Southampton Labour