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Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson echoes concerns from top police officer who warns of effects of Tory Government cuts on the force

Bill Esterson

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson has echoed concerns from one of Merseyside's leading police officers who warns that Tory cuts to the force's budget will impact policing in our communities.

Deputy chief constable for Merseyside Police, Andy Cooke, has issued a dire warning that the Tory cuts are now biting so hard that the axe could fall on Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The deputy chief constable said Merseyside Police has been forced to make savings of £77.4m since April 2011 alone, resulting in the loss off 1,500 officers and staff.

But the Tory cuts are to go further he explained, as a further £48m worth of Tory Government cuts in the next four years is likely to increase to £70m more as the Tories ramp up their funding cuts to our emergency services.

MP Bill Esterson said the deputy chief constable's comments need to act as a warning flag to Home Secretary Theresa May and the Conservative Government.

Bill Esterson said: "It's one thing for MPs like me to raise concerns about the impact of the Conservatives' severe cuts on public services, but when a leading serving police officer raises his concerns, then you know that the situation is dire, and I would suggest dangerous.

"DCC Cooke's comments are alarming and I hope will finally be the wake up call to the Home Secretary and her Conservative Government colleagues that is needed.

"For five years now, since the Tories and Lib Dems began their slash and burn attack on our emergency and public services, I and my colleagues have been raising concerns about the impact the cuts would have on public safety.

"Indeed I met with the Police Federation just last year who raised similar concerns and Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has already voiced her concerns about cuts which have seen police numbers fall to a nine year low.

"Those figures are only going to fall in the coming years as George Osborne demands even greater cuts to our police force here in Merseyside.

"So for the Conservatives to now demand even greater cuts then we are looking at frontline services being devastated.

"We have felt this already here in the communities with the closure of police enquiry desks in Formby, Maghull and Crosby, but now our dedicated PCSOs are in the Tory firing line.

"PCSOs have served a vital function in our communities since their introduction under the Labour Government in 2003. They have proven to be a crucial element of community policing here in Merseyside and across the country. I have met a number of them here in Maghull, Crosby and Formby over the past few years and I know the dedication that they show to our communities. To lose them is a devastating blow to the work the police do and the towns and villages they serve."

Bill said despite the cuts, Merseyside Police with Commissioner Kennedy have been doing all they could to limit the effects of the cuts on communities. But he added the level of cuts the Tories are still demanding will be felt on local policing.

Bill said: "I know through regular meeting with Commissioner Kennedy and Merseyside Police chief constable Jon Murphy, that they have done everything in their power to mitigate the worst effects of the Tory-Lib Dem cuts. Efficiencies have been made in every quarter and indeed staffing levels have been slashed to shockingly low levels.

"Commissioner Kennedy has drawn up ambitious plans to shake up the force's estate, which will see community police stations open up again in the hearts of our communities here in Formby, Maghull and Crosby.

"But there is no way they can mitigate the impact of this level of attack on our police by this government.

"To lose 40 per cent of the workforce, reducing numbers from 7,276 to just 4,444 is devastating. How can Merseyside Police be expected to continue to operate effectively with this level of cut in its workforce? How can our police be expected to respond to any form of public emergency?

"This Conservative Government is a threat to our national security. I am deeply concerned for public safety and for safety in our communities."



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