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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Government missteps on crime agenda

Whilst one branch of the government pushes its ID card agenda with unsupportable claims that they will make us all safer, another branch introduces cuts that could lead to a growing fear of crime and less safe streets.

It is well-known that Labour has funded its bailout of the banks by cutting the funds available to local councils, according to The Times Police Authorities are not immune from these cuts either. They say that faced with reductions in their funding large numbers of police forces are planning to cut thousands of officers despite the threat of a recession-driven surge in crime and disorder:

Representatives from dozens of police forces contacted by The Times last night gave a grim picture of falling numbers and “significant and painful” cuts.

One of Britain’s most experienced chief constables said that forces were being dangerously weakened at a time when a strong police force could be essential to “hold the line”. Timothy Brain, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire since 2001, said: “There is a risk of increased crime and disorder as a result of the effect of recession and many police forces will be made weaker as a result of the latest grant and council tax settlements.

Here in South Wales the Police Authority faces £14 million worth of cuts and has already failed to set its Council Tax once because of the conflict between breaking Assembly Government capping rules and losing vital services. The Chief Constable has threatened to stop patrolling the M4 if she is forced to cut back anymore. They meet again tonight for a second attempt.

As Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, says: “Jacqui Smith warned that crime could rise during a recession. If the Home Office is not careful, it will find itself sleepwalking into a crimewave.”
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