Stop Brutal Attack on Our Anti-Terror Armoury
Gwent PCC Ian Johnston made his comments prior to the announcement next week (Wednesday November 25th) by Chancellor George Osborne on what the public sector will have to spend in the next four years (from April 2016 - March 2020). This process of setting public sector budgets is called the Comprehensive Spending Review - CSR. The Home Office, who provide the majority of funding to Police Forces in England and Wales, has been told to model two scenarios of 25% and 40% of real-terms savings by 2019-20.
The Commissioner is responsible for representing the people of Gwent and making sure the service provided by the police is efficient and effective. This includes setting the Force budget and precept.
According to Mr Johnston, the Police play a vital role in investigating and tackling extremism in local communities and he is questioning the rationale behind further planned cuts to police budgets during a time of security threats from extremists.
Ian Johnston said: "The horrific terrorist attacks in France over the weekend bring into sharp focus our Government's proposal to impose further cuts on policing in England and Wales. With the cuts we have faced already and with more to come, it seriously does beg the question as to how we would fare in the same circumstances. As I have said previously, any further cuts to frontline policing would be brutal and dangerous and you just can't put a price on public safety.
The Prime Minister has already said that he will boost funding for the security services but he hasn't made the same commitment to policing. The police play a vital role in investigating and tackling extremism in local communities. It's our Police Officers and Community Support Officers on the ground, who are in constant daily contact with the local community, that provide the valuable intelligence that helps us deal with extremism.
There's no denying that Gwent Police is facing some considerable financial challenges. To meet the demands of continued Government cuts, the Force is expected to make £65m in savings between 2008/09 and 2020/21 - £38m of which has already been achieved. Police officer numbers are likely to reduce by over 300 between 2010 and 2018 and staff numbers are also expected to dwindle by roughly the same amount.
And there's more pain on the way. It's the future cuts beginning next year which will potentially make things more difficult. The Home Office have told us to prepare to make further savings of between 25% and 40% starting from next year and this is a burden which will no doubt be passed on to Police and Crime Commissioners to deal with.
People constantly tell me that they want to see more officers on the beat but the reality is that continued budget cuts to policing simply won't allow the Force to provide more visible policing in future. Whilst I understand the need for cuts during times of austerity, I am very concerned about the rationale behind continuously reducing the budget of frontline policing, especially during times of security threats from terrorists.
You can rest assured that the Chief Constable and I are doing everything in our power to deliver the best service possible with the resources available but it's about time the Government now starts strengthening its commitment to policing, not weakening it. There is only so long you can keep doing more with less and we need the Government to consider very carefully the implication of further spending cuts on the police as they are not sustainable."
The Commissioner added: "I'm not scaremongering here and I don't want people to be frightened. I'm simply painting an accurate picture of the scale of the cuts which is a point I have made numerous times over the last year. This is a perfectly valid point in light of the spending review which will be announced next week."
For further information about the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, please visit www.gwent.pcc.police.uk