The security threat currently facing the UK is being amplified by the lack of police resources, according to Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Lord Willy Bach told the House of Lords that the effect of Government cuts on police budgets could now be ‘seen clearly and sharply at a time of national crisis’ and said it highlighted in a startling way how security depends on the police being properly funded.
The Commissioner was speaking in a Lords debate yesterday (10 July) about the UK’s current security situation following the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
He described how Leicestershire Police officers and staff had responded magnificently to the heightened threat levels with the ‘calmness and sense of public responsibility we have become used to.’
But he said: “The underlying truth which cannot be escaped is that there are now just “too few cops” and in the words of a senior officer “the security crisis is amplified by the lack of resource”.”
Lord Bach said a fundamental truth is that security has to be “a total system” starting in neighbourhoods and reaching to the security service.
“The importance of neighbourhood policing in the security field just cannot be exaggerated. Information that can save innocent people’s lives can come from a proper – and by that I mean properly funded – system of neighbourhood policing,” he said.
The Commissioner told Peers that cutbacks in police funding for Leicestershire were ‘frightening.’
“In Leicestershire there has been around 38% cut in grant. We have lost 547 police officers between 2009 and 2016; that is around 23%. We now have one police officer per 599 members of the public. In 2006 there was 1 police officer per 430 members of the public. This loss of funding cannot be sustained forever. The government must stop pretending that “flat cash funding” does not represent a cut in real terms.”
Lord Bach said the lack of police numbers makes it even more difficult for forces to take the action they need following an incident. This is because limited resources had to be moved to cover extra work caused by the heightened threat levels.
“In policing terms there were a lot of abstractions which required much back filling. This involved many 12 hour days and resulted in many worn out and exhausted police officers and police staff,” he said.
He said he was proud that the diverse communities of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland have remained very supportive of all the actions Leicestershire Police has taken.
“We are all very conscious that the security situation is still very serious and hopefully we are alive to the dangers the country faces,” Lord Bach said.
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Posted on Tuesday 11th July 2017