Government accused of 'risking public safety' by under-funding police
PUBLISHED: 18:30 22 November 2017
The Government has been accused of 'risking the safety' of people in North Somerset by 'ignoring' concerns over police funding.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens has hit out at Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond for overlooking police funding concerns in his Autumn Budget speech this afternoon (Wednesday).
Ms Mountstevens has repeatedly petitioned the Government for better funding for police forces around the country, and earlier this year warned officers had been ‘pushed to the limit’ by growing demand and diminishing resources.
Since 2010, Avon and Somerset has been forced to make £65million of savings, and Whitehall is demanding a further £17million of cuts over the next five years.
This comes at a time when demands and dangers have increased, including the threat from extremism and organised crime. The number of complicated and sensitive crimes – including sexual exploitation, violence against people, domestic abuse, rape and hate crime – has risen too, from 20,000 to 40,000 in the past seven years.
However, Ms Mountstevens says Mr Hammond and fellow ministers have failed to address concerns, and are putting people in danger by refusing to act.
She said: “I am disappointed that the Government appears to have ignored the concerns of PCCs and chiefs across the country; we’ve all said the current position is not sustainable and risks the safety of local people.
“With pay rises promised by the Government and costs rising by £8million a year, our Government grant does not cover the real cost of policing.
“The Chief Constable and I were clear with the Home Office and the Police and Fire Minister when we presented our evidence to say policing and the safety of our communities was at a crucial ‘tipping point’.
“To continue with the real-terms cuts, the Government is risking the safety of those who live, work and visit Avon and Somerset.
“If it is as I fear, I will be having a conversation with local people about what the police continue to do and what they prioritise. We are working with finite resources and my over-riding priority is your safety.”