Ed Balls MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, said in response to the Home Office announcement on police funding cuts today:
“It’s now clear just how hard local police forces will be hit by the Home Office’s spending cuts. It is disingenuous for the Policing Minister to only publish figures in cash terms. An analysis by the House of Commons Library shows that funding for police forces will be cut in real terms by 7.1 per cent next year and the biggest cut of all, 8.5 per cent, in the year of the Olympics.
“People should be in no doubt that these deep cuts will mean thousands fewer police officers. Having totally failed to stand up for policing in the spending review negotiations, the Home Secretary has now ignored all the warnings from the police that imposing the biggest cuts in the first two years will hit the frontline hard.
“Overall police funding cuts of twenty per cent, front-loaded with the largest cuts in the first two years, would be unwise at the best of times. But at a time of rising public protest, an ongoing terror threat, the security challenge of the 2012 Olympics and an expensive reorganisation of policing, these cuts are a reckless and dangerous gamble. They will undermine the fight against crime and take unnecessary risks with national security and the safety of our communities.
“The speed and scale of these cuts go way beyond what independent experts believe can be achieved from efficiencies and better procurement. They will hit urban forces with higher crime rates, which are more reliant on central government funding, hardest.”
On Olympics security Ed Balls MP added:
“The Home Secretary told me in Parliament that the budget for Olympic security would be protected. And the Home Office told journalists yesterday that there would be no cuts to the Olympics security budget. Those promises are now being broken with the government trying to cut the budget by over twenty per cent from £600m to £475m.
“Police resources will already be over-stretched in 2012, but trying to cut the security budget by 21 per cent and cutting funding to police forces by 8.5 per cent in the year of the Olympics is a risky move. It raises very serious questions about whether the government can both deliver a safe and secure Olympics and normal day to day policing away from the Games. Protecting visiting VIPs, including heads of state and royal families from around the world, and securing not just one site but dozens of Olympic venues across London and around the country cannot be done by cutting corners.”
On elected police commissioners and today’s Second Reading of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill, Ed Balls MP added:
“People will rightly be angry that on the same day as these cuts are being imposed on frontline police the government is pushing through plans for a new set of politicians to oversee the police at a cost of over £100 million or the equivalent of 600 full time officers. And by confirming that the biggest cut of all will be in the year that directly elected police chiefs take office, it’s clear that Ministers want to pass the buck for the cuts to someone else. These cuts are not simply reckless, they’re deeply cynical too, with Ministers hoping to avoid responsibility for them come the next general election.”