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“Government should think long and hard about more cuts”

Police JobsNeighbourhood policing and the service’s ability to respond to riots could be at risk with further cuts to police budgets, one of the country’s leading policing and crime commissioners has warned.

Tony Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester and a former Labour MP, (pictured) said: “I have serious reservations about government cuts in policing and I hope the Government will think long and hard about what they are doing.”

The police service has lost 15,000 police officers since 2010, and more are set to go as further cuts to central government funding are made.

Mr Lloyd, chairman of the cross party Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Board, has warned that with further cuts, irreparable damage could be done to the police service – with neighbourhood policing and the service’s ability to respond to large scale disorder at stake.

He said: “I would resist enormously a move away from neighbourhood policing. Pressure means that we do what is urgent because it is important now, rather than doing what is important in the longer run.

“If you speak to a neighbourhood police officer in GMP, they will tell you the more pressure there is because of cutbacks, the more temptation there is to respond for example to incidents of domestic violence rather than be out there in the neighbourhood.

“The more we have got the numbers going down, and demand going up, the more the police will end up responding to the blue light demands rather then community demands because you have to; you cannot not respond to 999 calls. It all adds up and it means neighbourhoods are at threat.”

Earlier this year, the Superintendents’ Association warned that the bobby on the beat would become “an endangered species”, and local police federations have also warned that neighbourhood policing is under threat.

Mr Lloyd said: “Budget cuts undermine the crime prevention role of policing. Making policing a strong part of the community is the way to prevent crime in the first place. If you have a good neighbourhood policing team, you have got a good flow of information between the community and the police and that prevents the need for a flashing blue light in the first place.”

Mr Lloyd warned that a reduction in police numbers could also leave communities open to the threat of large scale public disturbances.

He added: “I am not predicting riots. But we cannot have a police service that is not prepared to respond to them. One challenge to the Home Office and Central Government as numbers go down has got to be – do we have enough officers to respond to huge events around the country? Could GMP for example have sent people to the Olympics if numbers were depleted? That is something that the Home Secretary has to consider.”

“We cannot police on the basis that these things [riots] will never happen. If you had asked me in 2010 if there was going to be riots, I would have said “I doubt it”. But you cannot afford to think like that.”

Date posted: December 19, 2013

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