Campaigning against Police Cuts
I met Councillor Ruth Potter in Fulford today to campaign against police budget cuts. Cllr Potter is standing for Police and Crime Commissioner in York and North Yorkshire. We talked to local residents to discuss their opposition to the Government’s cuts to the number of police on York’s streets.
I have expressed concern about cuts to police numbers locally and the impact this will have on the region’s crime figures. In February, Nick Herbert, the Minister for Policing claimed in a debate in the House of Commons that crime is coming down, but I pointed out that the Government’s figures show that it is rising in York. In an answer to a Parliamentary Question the total crime recorded by the police in York in the last year of the Labour Government was 14,480 offences but this figure rose to 15,199 in 2010-11, the first year of the Coalition Government. Despite this rise in crime the Government is cutting its grant to North Yorkshire Police for 2012/13 by more than £5 million. North Yorkshire Police have funding for 1,411 Police Officers in 2012/13 but this will fall to about 1,300 by 2015/16. Under the Labour Government the number of Police Officers in North Yorkshire rose from 1,367 in 1997 to 1,509 by 31 August, 2010, an increase of 142. When Labour left office crime had fallen by 43% nationally and there were record numbers of police on the street.
In June 2011, I wrote to the Minister, to raise concern about the clear correlation between the rise or fall in the number of police officers in North Yorkshire and York and the incidence of crime in the area. I asked the Minister how the Government proposed to tackle crime if it forged ahead with its plan to cut the number of police officers. The Minister failed to respond to my letter despite a further reminder being sent on 23 September but in March 2012 I received a bland, evasive and inadequate response from an official at the Home Office. I then requested a meeting with Nick Herbert, which is due to take place in May.
It is deeply disappointing that the Government is cutting the number of Police Officers in North Yorkshire and there is a real danger that crime levels will spiral upwards. I asked people today if they have been affected by crime and will raise their concerns when I meet the Minister.