With police budgets cut 19% in recent years, I am concerned that the police no longer have the resources to respond to life-threatening crimes such as domestic violence.
Today I asked Attorney General Robert Buckland whether he was satisfied about the funds allocated to the police in the recent budget. The only extra cash for the police announced on Monday was £160 million for counter-terrorism. This relatively modest sum is little relief for police services reeling after deep budget cuts to front-line police.
Since 2010, Avon & Somerset Police (my local service) has had its budget cut dramatically, forcing it to lose more than 650 police officers and hundreds of other staff.
These cuts may be one reason behind a 39% increase in recorded crimes in the Avon & Somerset area over the last three years. Even more worryingly, violent crimes and public order offences have risen particularly quickly. As police across the country have become ever more stretched, detection rates have fallen.
This puts people in danger. Two women are still killed by their partner or ex-partner every week in England and Wales, according to the Office of National Statistics. To bring this grim statistic down, the police need enough officers to be able to respond to emergencies quickly.
Other politicians from all parties are now sounding the alarm. A damning Select Committee report published last week warned that, unless cuts to policing are reversed, “there will be dire consequences for public safety, criminal justice, community cohesion and public confidence.”
In my time as an MP I have come to know many of Bristol’s police officers. I am worried the government is stretching them so thin they are unable to do their job properly.