If austerity is over will the Chancellor announce significant funding for Suffolk's beleaguered police force?
PUBLISHED: 05:30 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:17 29 October 2018
I make no apology for returning to the subject of police cuts, writes Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere.
Last week the influential Home Affairs Select Committee published a damning report saying that policing risks becoming “irrelevant” as the number of officers on the beat is slashed and huge numbers of crimes go unsolved and unpunished.
Since 2010 neighbourhood policing in Britain has been cut by a third. Over the last three years recorded crime has risen by a third but charges and summonses have fallen by a quarter. The number of arrests has also fallen.
In Suffolk total crime is up by 9%, burglary up 11%, sexual offences up 15% and robbery up 35%.
The overall crime rate in Suffolk in still low, but this average figure hides a much higher rate in Ipswich. Per head of population there are more crimes committed in Ipswich than in Cardiff, Sheffield or Derby.
We are not bucking the trend when it comes to prosecuting crime either.
Despite the increase in crime, the number of cases being taken to Crown Court is actually falling due to fewer police able to undertake investigations.
Between April and June only 151 cases reached Crown Court in Suffolk compared to 218 in the same period four years ago.
But the financial situation facing our police is getting worse not better.
Extra pension payments being imposed on Suffolk police by the Government will cost £4.1m. This is on top of all the other current and future cuts imposed on our police by the Government.
This year’s 7% council tax increase by Suffolk’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner raised an additional £2.9m. So, even if he does the same again next year, there would still have to be further cuts of over £1m to frontline policing.
No wonder the Chief Constable has described the situation as “catastrophic”.
It is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any government to keep its citizens safe, something this Conservative government is currently, and blatantly, failing to do.
Theresa May has claimed that austerity is over. If this is to ring at all true, when the Chancellor stands up to deliver his Budget he needs to announce significant extra funding for our beleaguered police forces.