Police cuts will be ‘Christmas for criminals’

by Peter Wozniak

Cuts to the police budget of up to 25% will have a drastically negative effect on the effectiveness of police forces, the Police Federation has warned.

In a dramatic intervention, the Federation claimed that current standards of policing would become “unsustainable” with the budget cuts being mooted by the government, saying that the result would be “Christmas for criminals”.

Paul McKeever, chair of the Police Federation, said: “Crime is at the lowest level it has ever been in the last 30 years, I think it would be a dreadful shame if we threw that away now.”

“It’s become clear to us… that the cuts to policing, those 25% cuts that the government are talking about, are going to have a detrimental effect throughout the country,” Mr Mckeever added, to the BBC.

“One of your first duties as a government is to protect the citizens that you serve. If you fail in that, then perhaps you’re unfit to govern.”

The statements reflect deep uncertainty within public services over the impact of the cuts – uncertainty that will persist until the release of the comprehensive spending review on October 20th.

The government is keen to foster the impression that its aggressive programme of spending cuts can be made without seriously damaging the ‘frontline’ of public services.

Nick Herbert, policing minister warned the Federation against creating an atmosphere of fear.

“We do have to be careful not to make assumptions and then to follow on from that with suggestions that may unnecessarily alarm the public,” he said.

“Very large sums of money are still going to be made available to policing.”

The Police Federation threatened that up to 40,000 police jobs could be cut as a result of the squeeze on budgets.

The warnings will make difficult reading for government ministers, as they brace for a union-driven backlash to the spending review.

Commenting on the statements, Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband said the public wanted a government which protects frontline services.

“This government is now clearly breaking their promises to do that and it is the police and our communities who are paying the price,” he said.

“Rather than sacking police officers George Osborne should take the advice of the IMF and increase the levy on the banks to protect vital services that people rely on. This isn’t about tackling waste and inefficiency – it’s a cut that will only benefit criminals.”