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View from the House: Thousands more police officers needed

PUBLISHED: 08:30 24 March 2019

Archant

Why is violent crime on the rise?

Yes, its complicated. But one of the main factors is clear. Home Office research leaked last year concluded that falling police numbers were “an underlying driver that has allowed the rise [in violent crime] to continue”.

And I am sure they are right.

Last week, I put it to Home Office minister Victoria Atkins that it was now beyond dispute that the government’s cuts to police officer numbers have gone much too far. The prime minister, as home secretary, made the cuts, and she still tries to claim there is “no direct correlation” between cuts in police numbers and the surge in knife crime.

The minister, however, seemed to agree with me – pointing out all the extra things police officers have to do these days.

An adequately resourced local police service is vital to our protection.

When fewer police officers are on the beat, and preventative anti-violence measures are cut, our community becomes less safe. Police spending has fallen by over 20 per cent since 2011.

The number of police officers has fallen each year since then, to around 21,000 fewer now.

The government has often been warned about these cuts.

The watchdog, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, warned in 2017 that austerity had left the force in a “potentially perilous state”.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said in October that police cuts were hampering the fight against crime.

Now, violent crime is at its highest level since 2007. It is time for a serious rethink.

In Newham, young lives have been lost. Local police do a great job, but are stretched beyond capacity.

The evidence is clear. We need to invest in the police. Ten thousand officers must be recruited to put the police back on the front foot in the fight against serious violence.

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