Government is ‘breaking promises’ over police cuts

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham
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Labour has today accused the Government of breaking its pledge to keep Lancashire residents safe as it launches a campaign against the latest police cuts.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said the county “cannot afford” to lose more police officers on top of the 730 that have already lost their jobs since 2010.

His comments come after Lancashire’s top-ranking police officer yesterday warned MPs the worst-case scenario when the Treasury unveils its comprehensive spending review later this month would see his workforce slashed by 53 per cent by 2020, compared to 2010.

Related story: Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner threatens legal action against Home Office over cuts

Mr Burnham said: “If ministers cut the Police on the scale proposed, they will be putting public safety at risk and will go down as the Government that took thousands of bobbies off the beat.

“David Cameron promised to keep the British public safe but he’s breaking that pledge.”

His comments come as he prepares to for a vote in the House of Commons to halt the planned cuts.

Mr Burnham added: “If people had known the Tories planned to end neighbourhood policing as we have known it and to take bobbies off the beat, they wouldn’t have voted for it.

“With crime starting to rise, now is not the time to cut the police.”

He warned Lancashire Police is facing cuts of up to 25 per cent over the next five years – on top of the £74m of savings identified so far.

Labour believes cuts of up to 10 per cent can be achieved but said anything more would have damaging consequences for public safety.

Today the party is launching a petition sponsored by a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, crossbench peer Lord John Stevens, who said: “We call on the Government to listen to the public and police officers, drop plans for drastic cuts and protect visible, locally-responsive neighbourhood policing.

“In the last five years, police forces across England and Wales have lost 12,000 front-line officers. Government plans to cut the Police by between 25 per cent and 40 per cent over the next five years could lead to the loss of over 20,000 more. Indeed, any budget cuts in double figures would spell the end of neighbourhood policing and put the public at risk.”

Policing Minister Mike Penning has said the current model for allocating police funding is “complex, opaque and out of date”.

He added: “If we want policing to be the best it can be, we must reform further, and that includes putting police on a long-term, sustainable footing.”