Barry Coppinger, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, has called on Home Secretary Amber Rudd to reverse the repeated cuts to police funding to allow more officers to be deployed on neighbourhood beats.
Mr Coppinger has corrected the Home Secretary on her reported suggestion that police cuts have not coincided with rising crime. He said police officers and staff have responded magnificently to the increasing strain they work under but violent crime resulting in injury has risen by one third in Cleveland in recent years and public safety demanded the situation could not continue.
In the past seven years Cleveland Police has seen its funding from central Government fall by 36% - that’s £39m in real terms and has resulted in the loss of 500 police posts.
Just last month it was necessary to increase the local precept in order to meet the latest real-term funding cut by central Government and so avoid further cuts to police numbers.
In addition to the cuts, there has been top slicing of the budget to fund national initiatives. This is important work but again reduces the number of officers available to the Chief Constable to deploy in neighbourhood teams. Police workload has also increased due to the strain caused by cutbacks in other public sector budgets.
Mr Coppinger said: “Officers and staff at all levels have responded magnificently to meet the extra burden this has resulted in and their performance has been recognised in recent inspections by the police watchdog HMICFRS where our neighbourhood police work has been flagged up as an example of best practice
“That said, there can be no doubt that the fall in police numbers has coincided with a rise in violent crime in Cleveland. Three years ago there were 4150 crimes involving violence against a person resulting in injury, in the last year that figure has risen to 5557. It is simply wrong of the Home Secretary to suggest otherwise.”
Mr Coppinger added that the impact of the deep cuts is not just in the number of victims of crime.
“The presence of officers on the beat not only deters crime, it reassures people and reduces the fear of crime. Neighbourhood officers are trusted by the community and because of this they will frequently be the first to hear of vital information that can help combat more serious crimes including drugs and organised crime.
“Policing cuts have significantly reduced the ability of Cleveland Police to provide proactive visible patrol activity across all communities so the Chief Constable must constantly review areas of focus based on threat, harm and risk.
“I have attended hundreds of public meetings across the force area. The clear feedback I receive is that the public recognise the excellent job our neighbourhood police officers do, they support them and wish there were more of them and I entirely agree.
“Any rise in violent crime is concerning as there is a victim and their family at the heart of every incident and the force also acknowledges that public space violence is an issue of public concern and that police presence provides reassurance to the public. Cleveland Police looks to work with communities, local authorities and health services to address the underlying causes of violence.”
In meetings with local politicians Mr Coppinger will continue to urge them to join his campaign for fairer funding.
“It is a matter of public record that last year I called on all politicians and anyone else in a position of influence to join myself and the Chief Constable in calling for fairer funding for Cleveland Police. This campaign is gathering momentum and it is important that pressure is maintained. I am in regular contact with local MPs and councillors of all political parties and none and I shall continue to urge them to use whatever influence they can to increase police numbers.”
Posted on Monday 9th April 2018