The Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester has accused Ministers of paying lip service to public safety, as the Government has so far failed to end the uncertainty about future police funding.
Speaking a week before the Home Secretary is expected to announce the police grant for 2019/20 - the money police forces receive from central government – Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes has urged Sajid Javid to make good on his promises to support local policing by turning the tide on eight years of savage cuts.
The Deputy Mayor’s calls were echoed by members of Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Panel, as they were told that silence from Ministers on the state of future funding is fuelling concerns that Greater Manchester will face further cuts to policing.
“We cannot run a police service on empty promises,” says Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes.
“As ministers continue to pay lip service to the importance of local policing, police services are struggling to get on with the job in hand – keeping the public safe.
“Greater Manchester Police is facing unprecedented demand as it deals with the consequences of eight years of relentless cuts. But the Government’s attitude when it comes to fair funding is, quite frankly, shameful and disrespectful to our citizens, and to the police officers and staff who go above and beyond to protect our homes and streets.
“Add to that the budget black hole caused by the police pension changes and we are at the end of the line now, with the public really bearing the brunt as police struggle to respond to incidents. I urge the Home Secretary to take this opportunity to deliver on his promises and put his money where his mouth is.”
Cllr Tamoor Tariq, Chair of the Police and Crime Panel said: “Although the settlement is due next week, it’s still not too late for the government to listen to our grave concerns and provide the funding that policing and the public deserve to keep Greater Manchester safe. This comes at a time when the demands on police are greater than ever before. The thin blue line is getting even thinner and Government need to take action now.”
The report to the Panel also outlines how the funding raised through this year’s council tax has been invested, including:
- Recruitment of 100 additional police officers (50 this year and 50 next year) to bolster neighbourhood policing – the first increase for eight years.
- Maintaining the number of PCSOs.
- Investment in the digital forensics unit to address the backlog of mobile phone examinations so cases can be swiftly progressed.
- Improvements to the 101 non-emergency number, including the recruitment of 40 additional call handlers and the introduction of Livechat to reduce demand.
“Asking local taxpayers to pay more towards policing was not an easy decision, but one we were forced to make. However, the Mayor and I promised to invest this money in neighbourhood policing and improving the non-emergency number, and I’m pleased to say that is what we’ve done,” adds the Deputy Mayor.
“Now we must wait for the Home Secretary’s announcement next week and hope he delivers – the future of our police service depends on it.”
Greater Manchester Police has faced cuts of £215m since 2010, resulting in the loss of 2,000 police officers, a 25 per cent reduction on 2010 levels, and 1,000 police staff.
Read the Police and Crime Panel report here.