23 May 2018
Following his first public speech as Home Secretary to Conference delegates, Sajid Javid was quizzed on the impact of cuts to the police service since 2010.
He was asked if he had read the report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that his predecessor – Amber Rudd – had claimed she had not seen, which links the rise in recorded violent crime to the reduction in police officer numbers. Mr Javid responded by stating that he hadn’t seen the report either.
He said: “We have to look at what is driving the increase in violent crime. There is a genuine increase. No one should be in any doubt that violent crime is completely unacceptable.”
Mr Javid also pointed out that there had been a rise in violent crime in 2010 but at the time there had not been the pressure on officer numbers that exists today. Since 2010 the number of police officers has been cut by 20,000.
John Apter, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, illustrated the impact that the reduction in officer numbers has had in his county. Since 2010, officer numbers in the area have fallen by nearly 1,000 officers – which is 25% of the force. Mr Apter said: “Colleagues and members tell me they feel that they are not providing the service they want to. My colleagues are broken, words are cheap, we need action.”
The Home Secretary responded by saying that he had heard the same message from within his constituency in West Mercia. He said that as a new Home Secretary he “got what the issues are” and that he would “work with colleagues in other departments to collectively address the issues.”
The impact of police station closures was another issue raised. Richard Cook from West Midlands Police Federation said that by reducing the number of police stations, the distances that officers are having to drive, many as quick response drivers, was increasing. And due to both the mental and physical demands that this places on officers, this was adding to fatigue and welfare issues officers are having to cope with. Mr Cook asked the Home Secretary: “What is different about you as Home Secretary? We are sick and tired of politicians who pull the rug from under our feet when it comes to funding.”
Mr Javid responded: “You have a Home Secretary that gets the issues but I don’t have a magic wand. I talked earlier about the different departments that I have run and how I set out clear priorities and get what I want to get. Just look at my track record.”
Three weeks in the job is not long, but the Federation has sent a clear message that we need short and long-term strategies to address these issues to benefit our members and the public we serve.
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