North Wales Police facing “unprecedented” challenges due to Tory cutbacks

Labour AM for the Vale of Clwyd, Ann Jones, has warned that cuts from the UK Government will put significant pressure on North Wales Police’s ability to protect communities across the region.

Ms Jones said: “The Tory Government’s brutal 20% cuts to police budgets means that we have 349 fewer officers working on the frontline in our communities. One in five officers working are not walking their beats, but they are out of the force looking for work.

“These horrifying figures come despite David Cameron saying he would protect frontline officer numbers and Nick Clegg saying he would employ an extra 3,000 officers during the last election campaign.

“It is also very concerning to see that the number of sick days taken by officers have doubled since 2010 as attacks on pay and working conditions are being officers under increasing stress.

“The Police Federation in North Wales have already said that these savage cuts are harming the ability of our hardworking officers to protect communities and fight crime. I deplore the actions of the Tories and the Lib Dems in Westminster whose actions threaten the safety of our communities.

“In Wales, the Welsh Labour Government understands that we need to invest to ensure our communities are safe and we have created an extra 500 PCSO’s across Wales to help bridge the gap caused by the Tories”.

The Tory-led UK Government’s 20% cut (around £2 billion over the spending review period) from central Government funding to the police which goes much further than the last Labour UK Government’s equivalent plan to find savings of around 12% (around £1 billion). Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said that Labour’s plans could be achieved without impacting on the frontline. The Conservative Government is implementing cuts of 20% which is too far, too fast.

Supporting policing and reducing crime are top priorities for the Welsh Labour Government. This strong commitment is reflected in the range of ways in which the Welsh Government is working with Police forces, PCCs and communities across Wales.

The Welsh Labour Government has also welcomed the work that the Welsh police forces are increasingly undertaking on more effective collaboration through sharing services, better procurement and workforce modernisation. This is a shared agenda for change which is designed to free up more money for frontline policing and community safety initiatives.

Despite the constant assertions by Theresa May that crime is falling, the Government’s own statistics watchdog has said their statistics can no longer be relied upon.

Notwithstanding that, the latest crime figures already show disturbing signs that a generation of progress in some areas is being reversed. We now see worrying increases in muggings and shoplifting across the country, whilst violence against the person has increased in 16 police forces and violence without injury has increased in 19 force areas in England and Wales, with notable increases in some.

In addition, the statistics do not now record areas of growing crime, eg. shoplifting, now at a 9 year high. Fraud has also increased by 34%, but we know this is just the tip of the iceberg because much online crime goes unreported.

7,000 fewer crimes of violence have been solved since this Tory and Lib Dem UK Government was elected whilst, despite a sharp increase in sexual crime, there has been a significant fall in the referral of cases to the CPS for prosecution.

On top of all this, as Police forces are stretched to breaking point, they are taking up to 30% longer to respond to 999 calls and we have seen a reduction in overall crimes solved in 22 Forces, with nearly 14,000 more crimes unsolved last year than when this Government came to power.