Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 12th September 2018

Last month, I raised concerns over the cut in officers numbers at Sussex Police and the spike in drugs and violence in Crawley which followed. Of course, this was met with denials across the board from local police leadership, yet the visible increase in police presence in Crawley immediately after I called them out and the subsequent reduction in reports of drugs and violence says a great deal.

A temporary ramp-up in police numbers isn’t a permanent solution, those officers had to be taken from somewhere else and those areas will have suffered as a consequence and what is to stop our problems re-emerging when the numbers reduce again? Sussex Police are due to recruit an additional 200 officers over the next few years, not 800 as the Police Commissioner tries to suggest. While 200 additional officers is better than a kick in the teeth, its less than a third of the number of police we’ve lost locally under the Conservatives.

Fewer police officers tackling crime means more crime. You’d have thought that was a pretty easy concept to get your head around. However, this week the National Audit Office, an independent body responsible for auditing Government, said that due to a lack of monitoring by the Home Office, Ministers were unaware of the impact cutting police numbers had had on the effectiveness of the police in tackling crime. At this point, no assessment has even taken place looking into the impact of the 44,000 police officer and staff cuts which have taken place under the Conservatives.

How can a Government claim to be taking crime seriously when they aren’t willing to ask the most basic questions? Of course, politically such an assessment could never be produced, because we all know what it will say the impact of those cuts have been and the Government couldn’t possibly publicly acknowledge that fact.

There’s an obvious solution to this: accept the obvious need more officers and get on with recruiting them. Labour has committed to recruiting 10,000 additional police officers, at least one extra officer for every neighbourhood in the county, that seems like a good start.

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