Policing Minister signals the end of cuts
22 May 2018
Nick Hurd has signalled the end of austerity cuts to policing, telling the Police Federation: “you’ve won the argument”.
The Policing Minister was speaking at the Federation’s annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday. He said he had taken the time to visit forces and listen to their concerns, and thanks to the improving economy future conversations could be about investment.
Mr Hurd, who is Conservative MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, claimed that: “We’re putting in an extra £460m this year alone. You have won the argument about forces being stretched. The economy is in a better place now than it was in 2010 [when austerity began].”
He added that he had made it his business to meet with forces after he was appointed Policing Minister following last year’s general election. He had listened to concerns and understood that many are “stretched and really struggling to match existing demand” and said he is concerned that the police service will not keep pace with emerging technology, in particular cybercrime, without an increase in police numbers and resources. However Mr Hurd also repeatedly cautioned his audience that the country was still shackled with a £50bn annual interest payment on its debts and any additional money would be found through higher council taxes and more borrowing.
Mr Hurd was taking questions from delegates as part of a panel which also included his Labour opposite number, Shadow Policing Minister, Louise Haigh MP. She welcomed Mr Hurd’s admission that “police are struggling to meet demands” and lambasted the government for cutting 20,000 officers since 2010 which she said had fuelled a rise in crime. Ms Haigh, a former Special Constable, went on to point out that fewer police are facing increased demand for their time from missing persons to using police cars to transport those with mental illness. Labour’s policy in government, she said, would be to recruit 10,000 new police officers, representing an investment of £710m.
Sara Thornton, who chairs the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), challenged the Federation to work with her and Police and Crime Commissioners to present the evidence to Mr Hurd that the minister needs to make the case for increasing government spending in policing.
Calum Macleod, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales warned the police service is in the middle of a “perfect storm” due to years of under-funding. He said: “999 calls have been dropped, 101 calls go unanswered, neighbourhood policing is decimated and public confidence in policing has been compromised because police are no longer visible. We need politicians to put in the resources where they are needed. This needs to be addressed now.”