MPs demand policing is a Budget priority

26 Oct 18

Policing “urgently” needs more funding in the Budget to avoid “dire consequences” for public safety, MPs have warned.

Neighbourhood policing has been cut by more than 20% since 2010 and some forces have lost more than two-thirds of neighbourhood officers, the home affairs select committee has noted in a report out yesterday.

On average forces in England and Wales have experienced a 35% reduction in the number of neighbourhood officers between 2009-10 and 2017-18 with the biggest cuts coming in Northamptonshire (71%), West Yorkshire (69%) and the City of London (69%).

The committee report found that recorded crime has jumped 32% in three years, including steep rises in robbery, theft and vehicle crime – but charges and summons are down 26%.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the committee, said forces were “badly overstretched” citing the increase in crime and drop in arrests as well as “emerging challenges” like online fraud and online child abuse.

“Policing urgently needs more money. The government must make sure policing is a priority in the Budget and Spending Review, or public safety and communities will pay the price,” Cooper claimed.

The committee said: “Failure to provide a funding uplift for policing would have dire consequences.”

Some victims of online fraud are “turning to private investigators, due to dissatisfaction with the police response”, the report said.

The MPs condemned the Home Office’s response to emerging threats like online fraud and said: “We fear that the lack of digital capability has become a systemic problem”.

Evidence to the committee revealed less than 3% of reports to Action Fraud - the UKs national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime - made in 2016-17 lead to a charge or summons.

“Given the paltry number of justice outcomes, it is no surprise that so few fraud victims report their experience to the police or Action Fraud,” the report said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our decision to empower accountable Police and Crime Commissioners to make decisions using their local expertise does not mean that we do not understand the demands on police forces.

“We have been on the front foot in engaging with police. The policing minister has spoken to leaders in every force in England and Wales to better understand the demand and changing nature of crime faced by forces.”

In September, head of the London Metropolitan police, Cressida Dick, said she was “extremely disappointed” by a 2% pay rise for police.

The National Audit Office recently criticised central government funding for police forces in England and Wales.  

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