Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson warns Parliament that Tor

Bill Esterson
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson warned MPs in Parliament that cuts being imposed on Merseyside Police were "dangerous and damaging".
Speaking at a debate in Westminster Hall which he called, the Sefton Central MP detailed the affects of the Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts on policing.
Bill told MPs: "The hard work and dedication of the police has made a huge difference to communities across Merseyside. But the dedicated people who work as police officers and as support staff feel that their hard work is being compromised by cuts which go way too far. 
"They feel that the cuts will undermine the ability of the police service to keep the people of Merseyside safe. They also have grave concerns that the cuts in police numbers will put pressure on them to go on duty on their own rather than with a colleague – a risk to their personal safety as well as a risk to their ability to do their job.
"According to the Home Office in July, the number of police officers had dropped by nearly 10,000 under this Tory-Lib Dem Government.
This is more than HMIC expected and shows the depth of the cuts under this Government. Substantially more than half of those cut so far are from 999, neighbourhood and traffic response - the officers we rely on in an emergency.
"This represents the lowest number of police officers on our streets in nearly a decade. The number of Police Community Support Officers has fallen by 9% in the last year alone.
"Crime fell by 43% with Labour according to the British Crime Survey. The same survey shows this progress has ground to a halt under the Tory-Lib Dem Government during which time we now know they have cut nearly 10,000 officers.

"When Labour left office there were record numbers of police on the street, over 16,500 more than in 1997 in addition to over 16,000 new PCSOs. The record number of police officers meant that not only did crime fall by 43% under Labour but the chance of being a victim of crime was at its lowest since records began."
Bill told the MPs that constituents from Sefton Central had contacted him with concerns about the affect of the cuts on police officers on the streets.

Bill said: "People in my constituency want to see police on their streets but from 2010 to the end of 2012/13 624 police officer posts will have been lost from the Merseyside force. This is a direct result of the government's 20% cut in the police budget. A further 178 staff support posts will have been lost over the same time period.
"The Prime Minister promised to protect the front line but that just has not happened. It is no good ministers blaming the chief constables and the police authorities. A 20% cut by government is not the fault of the police service."
Bill said the Tory-Lib Dem cuts had also had a direct impact on PCSOs in our communities.
Bill said: "Police Community Support Officers are a key part of neighbourhood policing which makes a big difference through the relationships that PCSOs and their police colleagues are able to build and in the work they do in crime prevention and in helping create productive activities especially for young people, often directing people away from crime and anti-social behaviour. 
"From next April the funding for PCSOs will no longer be ring-fenced. In my view PCSOs are absolutely essential to the success of neighbourhood policing but given the massive cuts being made by the government, it will be very difficult for chief constables to keep the current numbers of PCSOs. 
"On Merseyside only one local authority has been able to continue its funding of PCSOs which supports the police authority funding. Local government has also been clobbered by this government of course and it is no surprise that councils like mine in Sefton had to end funding for PCSOs."

And the MP said the first casualty of the cuts has been neighbourhood policing with the loss of police inquiry desks throughout Sefton, including Formby, Maghull and Crosby.

Bill said: "Seventy-five per cent have closed in Merseyside and Lancashire alone resulting in significant loss of a direct service to communities and long serving staff who have built up local knowledge and connection that will not be replaced. 
"In my constituency, front desks in both Formby and Maghull have closed. 
"Many people especially elderly people feel safer when they know there is a police station round the corner which they can go to even if they don’t use it. People don’t always like to use the phone or have a car to go to a police station miles away."
Bill also details a meeting he had had with the Merseyside Police Federation who confirmed that the government's cuts to the police are "dangerous".
Bill said: "The Police Federation warned me that Merseyside Police will be 'significantly affected by the 20% cut in police budgets imposed upon police forces'. The affects of the government's cuts on the police have been even greater in Merseyside because of the way the police's budget is calculated.
"The ration of funding to the police is dependent on the demographics of the area. Merseyside is funded at 83% government grant and 17% council tax precept. While in contrast, Surrey is around 50% government grant and 50% precept, on account of the relative wealth in the area.

"So the Tory-Lib Dem Government's decision to slash its police funding by 20% has a greater impact on areas which have more deprivation that the more affluent areas down south. As a result, Merseyside Police is being hit particularly hard by the cuts.
"Merseyside is set to lose 650 police officer posts, as well as 103 police community support officers and 452 civilian staff as the force has to £61.4m from its budget over the next four years.

"The Police Federation tell me that Merseyside has already lost around 500 police officers so far through the process of 'natural wastage' and a recruitment freeze.  

"Officers I have spoken to warn that the cuts are dangerous and will lead to a rise in crime.

"This government needs to know the damage it is doing to policing in Merseyside and the result will not just be a rise in crime, but an increase in the fear of crime in our communities.

"What is needed is a change course and for the government to implement a proper plan to cut crime, not police officers. 
"We need real change from this Government to make our streets safer. Prioritising neighbourhood policing, taking anti-social behaviour seriously, tackling the causes of crime with police and local authorities working together, ensuring no privatisation of core policing, and building strong communities with respect to all and responsibility by all."

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