Politicians across the North West of England have come together to call on the Government to reverse years of policing austerity in tomorrow's Queen's Speech.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester joined Police and Crime Commissioners for Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire in writing to the Home Secretary to ensure that the public's concerns about police cuts are top of the Government's agenda. Citing recent attacks and the erosion of neighbourhood policing that provides vital community intelligence they said,
"As Home Secretary you have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that police forces across the country are properly resourced so they can keep people safe and tackle crime. We are asking that you ensure that this is a priority for the Government by making a clear commitment to reverse austerity in policing in this year's Queen's Speech."
Across the four forces more than £385 million in savings have had to be found since 2010 with a further estimated £90m to be found by 2020. This has meant a reduction of more than 4,000 police officers and 1,500 fewer police staff across the region.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “I have lobbied central government for more funding for our police service for years. It is has now got to the point that Chief Constables and senior policing leaders can no longer stay silent and are speaking out.
“The need is real. It is time ministers listened.
“The thin blue line is stretched like never before and further cuts are damaging all frontline services. The government needs to stop these cuts and, instead, consider how to invest in the service which works so hard to keep us all safe, all of the time.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We urgently need a wholesale review of police funding in the light of the changing times we are living in. Our police forces have absorbed the brunt of cuts as best they can since 2010, but more savings still need to be found and officer numbers are tumbling. As we see the terrorist threat at its highest ever level, and an increase in violent crime, our thin blue line has become dangerously overstretched.
“In Greater Manchester alone we have 2,000 fewer police officers patrolling our streets. This level of pressure cannot be sustained and, without a doubt, Greater Manchester Police needs more officers. Our Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has said that officer numbers are currently at the low end of reasonable, which to me means borderline unreasonable.
“The tragic events of recent months have highlighted just how important the police service is to the safety of our people, and this is an area that cannot simply be pruned back beyond recognition. But even prior to these terror attacks, policing was struggling to cope with the day-to-day demands placed on it. The Government must act now and reverse the cuts before our police service becomes unviable.”
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner said, "I hear from people and officers across Lancashire about their concerns about the resources available to the police to do their job and keep communities safe.
"The Government need to listen to these concerns and commit to reversing austerity in policing in the Queen's Speech this week.
"Despite promises from Ministers around 'protecting' budgets Lancashire receives less money every year from the Government to deliver a policing service. My message to the Home Secretary is that this needs to change and we need to start re-investing in policing, not cutting our budgets further."
In Merseyside, savings of £84 million have had to be found since 2010 with more than £18 million additional savings estimated to be needed by 2021/22. This has already meant a reduction of more than 1,000 officers in seven years.
See the full letter here.