Whilst the national media is obsessed with the reporting of the Brexit machinations, this week’s little reported government announcements about local government and police finance will have a comparable impact on our area, our services and our quality of life.
Let’s just focus on the police and the threats to our community safety.
The Conservatives long ago ditched their (quite undeserved) reputation as the party of law and order. It’s now clear that this government has given up on any pretense of acting to ‘protect the public’.
This will be the eighth consecutive year of police cuts. Police officer numbers nationally have fallen to the lowest level in three decades at the same time as some types of crime are increasing dramatically.
In South Yorkshire, the government announced another £3m real-terms cut in grant between this year and next and told the Police and Crime Commissioner to fill the gap with an inflation-busting precept increase on our council tax.
The budge cuts have meant that since 2010, South Yorkshire Police has lost 480 police officers (a 16% cut) and 117 PCSOs (a 36% cut).
It’s little surprise that the crime figures released last month showed the highest annual rise in police recorded crime since comparable records began in 2002.
In South Yorkshire, violent crime rose by 62%, robberies rose by 46% and total recorded crime (excluding fraud) rose by 34%.
Our police are at breaking point and the Tory prescription is yet more reckless funding cuts.
This is madness. It’s little wonder that local people are concerned about the increasing risk to their community safety. It’s more police and less cuts we need, not the other way round.
Yet, the government’s strategy is very simple.
- Ensure big cuts in national funding of local police with the savings being used to fund tax cuts for the already wealthy
- Take credit for cutting the national tax burden
- Tell police and crime commissioners to push up precepts and council taxes to fill the budget gaps
- Blame police commissioners for local tax hikes, falling police numbers and rising crime.
Why do people fall for this?