Home Sec ‘ignoring elephant in the room’

09 April 2018

The Home Secretary has been accused of ignoring the massive cuts in police numbers as she launched the Government’s new Serious Violence Strategy.

Calum Macleod, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “I find it astonishing that in an 111-page document there is not one mention of the dwindling numbers of police officers. Since 2010 we have lost more than 21,000 officers and 7,000 Police Community Support Officers which means fewer officers on our streets to tackle exactly the sorts of crimes detailed in this strategy.

“Of those 21,000, a staggering 80% came from neighbourhood and front line policing who are the eyes and ears of the community and are essential not only to deterring but also to detecting crime.”

Instead the document focuses on four main themes; tackling county lines and the misuse of drugs; early intervention and preventions; supporting communities and local partnerships and law enforcement and the criminal justice response.

Mr Macleod said, “This is all very well but where are the measures to tackle the rising tide in violence that we are seeing right now? We know that knife crime is up by 21% and gun crime by 20%. These intervention strategies might work in 10 years’ time but what do we say in the meantime to the families of the victims who have been tragically killed?

“Ms Rudd also refused to comment on a leaked Home Office document which appeared to state that the fall in police numbers is likely to have contributed to a rise in serious violent crime. It also said a lack of resources and fewer charges may have ‘encouraged’ offenders to commit crimes but Ms Rudd claims not to have seen this report which I find shocking.

“There is also no mention of the recent HMICFRS PEEL inspection which admitted that the police service was cracking under the strain and unable to keep up with demand.”

The strategy sits alongside the new Offensive Weapons Bill which will be brought forward within weeks, making it illegal to possess certain offensive weapons like zombie knives and knuckle-dusters in private.

Mr Macleod added: “It’s all well and good bringing in new legislation but if you don’t have the boots on the ground to enforce it then it’s as good as redundant.

“We have warned about the consequences of cutting police resources for years but all our warnings have fallen on deaf ears. It gives us no satisfaction at all that our dire predictions have now come to fruition.

“When the government first announced they were unveiling this new strategy we hoped that at long last there would be some meaningful solutions to tackle the rise in violent crime. Instead, what we have got is 111 pages of hot air.

“I have no doubt that some of the measures such as early intervention sound very worthy but they won’t deliver anything in time to help this generation, my children or yours.

“Policing is only part of the solution - the Head of the Local Government Association has already warned that the squeeze on council budgets is affecting their work with young people. Government funding for council youth offending teams has already been halved from £145m in 2010/11 to just £72m in 2017/18. All of which begs the question how exactly are these intervention strategies going to be resourced?”

Ms Rudd announced £40m of Home Office funding for the strategy but has not explained where the money is actually coming from.

Mr Macleod said: "It all smacks of déjà vu, a bit like the time the Home Secretary announced £450m of new police funding, only for her to be rapped over the knuckles by the UK Statistics Authority for making misleading statements because in reality a large proportion of this money will come from an increase in the amount people pay as part of their council tax.

“Police officers will continue to go above and beyond to protect the public every day. But we now need the government to recognise that policing needs proper investment if we are to keep communities safe. Continuing failure to recognise this will result in more misery on the streets.”