One strange thing about politics is how long it can take for you to feel the impact of a decision. Discussions over investment, long-term planning and policy can seem a bit removed from day to day life, but once the dust has settled the consequences can hit you out of the blue.
A prime example of this is the Government’s decision to slash the budget for local policing. Between March 2010 and March 2019, police forces in England and Wales lost over 21,000 officers. This decision – delivered over a number of years – has led to the current crisis in community policing.
In the last couple of years, the Government has scrambled to try and put out the fire it started, but to no avail. Under the Tories, the number of arrests, charges and prosecutions has collapsed. The proportion of investigated crimes that result in a suspect being arrested and charged has fallen by 15% in the last seven years, meaning just 5.4% of crimes currently result in a conviction.
As a local Member of Parliament, these statistics aren’t just numbers, they are people’s lives. I regularly hear from constituents who feel terrorised by crime and antisocial behaviour, and don’t understand how the Government has been content to let things get this bad.
There have been some positive steps taken by police on a local level in the last couple of years to build a safer community in Tameside, but the truth is without national support services face an uphill battle to get a grip on crime.
We all deserve to feel safe where we live. That’s why Labour has committed to recruit 13,000 new community policy officers and PCSOs, taking number back up to pre-2010 levels.
This is only half the battle, though, we also need to fix the justice system which has been broken after 13 years of Government mismanagement. That means boosting the number of crown prosecutors, improving capacity for trials and proactively tackling violence against women and girls.
I know that these changes would make the world of difference here in Tameside. We need to give local people the security to know that when they are the victims of a crime, they can depend on every stage of the process, from police investigation to prosecution to punishment. It is the role of the Government to make that ambition a reality.