Today the National Audit Office has published a report revealing that the Government has no real “national picture of what [police] forces need”, “no common standards for measuring all demands for police services” and that, as a result, the existing funding formula for police services is not fit for purpose. The report says that “there are signs emerging that forces are finding it harder to deliver an effective service” and this is something Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham, Selly Oak) says is reflected in the experiences of his constituents.
Since 2010 the amount of central Government funding police forces received has fallen by an average of 30% and this has resulted in a 40% reduction in the number of PCSOs on our streets, while the number of police officers fell by around 15%. In the West Midlands this means we now have over 2000 fewer police officers on our streets. Steve’s office has been inundated with emails and phone calls from constituents who have witnessed or been the victim of crime, but have waited several days before a police officer speaks to them. This has included elderly residents who have been burgled, vulnerable people reporting anti-social behaviour and victims of vehicle crime. This reflects the broader picture in Selly Oak constituency, where the number of reported crimes between August 2017 and July 2018 nearly doubled. Other residents have complained that the lack of police officers on our streets has resulted in criminals feeling as if they will face no repercussions for their actions, as cases of anti-social behaviour are rising.
The Government has previously argued that the pressures on police forces are a result of an increase in reported “low volume and high-harm” crime, such as sexual offences and terrorism, which are more costly to investigate. However, Steve has highlighted that if the Government recognises this increase in demand, they should be providing more funding to enable police forces to meet it. Instead, the Government has forced local authorities to increase Council Tax in order to disguise the cuts, putting the financial burden on local communities.
On Wednesday (12 September 2018) Steve and other Birmingham MPs will be meeting with Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, to raise their concerns about the issues facing West Midlands Police and to call for the Government to provide the necessary resources for the force to allow them to deliver an effective service. In October 2017 Steve held a debate on the issue of rising crime in Parliament and called on the Government to take robust action to tackle the problem and tomorrow he will be asking the Home Secretary to do the same thing, nearly a year after he held the debate.
“My constituents are worried and I have been told by some individuals that they now feel too scared to leave their own homes. Reckless budget cuts imposed on our police forces by this Government have put people’s lives at risk and it is shocking, although sadly not surprising, that the Government has no picture of what our police forces actually need. The Government is in complete denial about the scale of the problem and this report sheds a light on how bad the problem really is. Urgent action needs to be taken to address the shortfall in police funding and problems surrounding community safety. We need more police urgently, the speeding up of the justice process instead of court closures, realistic sentences and a real determination to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Government has lost the plot when it comes to tackling crime.”