This week, the Government’s own advisers on policing – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) published its own assessment of the impact on policing, nationally and locally, of the government’s policies.
Nationally, a minimum of 15,000 officers will be cut by 2015 and, as there is still a £302m gap between those spending plans and the likely resources, the reduction is likely to be even bigger. The report says “it is not unreasonable to assume a large proportion of the savings to bridge this gap will come from further workforce reductions”.
Frontline policing will be hit hard this year, with 6,000 frontline officers being cut, including 5,500 from neighbourhoods, 999 response and traffic. 179 police stations (14%) and 264 front counters (22%) will be closed.
Locally, Derbyshire Police is cutting about 1 in 11, and South Yorkshire Police about 1 in 9 of its police officers over the next 3 years, and this is on top of the more than 10% cut in police officers made since 2010.
David Cameron said that frontline policing would not be hit by the huge cuts being made in police budgets, but his own advisers have told him that for every five police officers on the frontline in 2010, there will be just four by 2015.
Now, haven’t we been here before? The last Conservative government, under John Major and Michael Howard, cut frontline policing and we had a massive increase in crime.
Tony ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ Blair invested heavily in both increasing the number of police and modernising the way it operated, and introduced new laws to tackle anti-social behaviour. The result? Between 1997 and 2010, crime fell by more than 40%.
With Cameron’s big cuts in frontline policing, who is now going to bet against crime rising again?