Labour targets police cuts after riots

How would police cuts affect riot response?
How would police cuts affect riot response?

By Alex Stevenson

The opposition is focusing its criticisms of the government on plans to cut police budgets by 20%, after four nights of violence across England.

Ministerial sources have admitted that plans to slash spending on policing need rethinking, the Guardian reported.

One senior coalition figure told the newspaper: "It is manifestly the case that we need police numbers and effective deployment of officers that generates public confidence.

"There is still a vital need for reform and chief constables cannot wriggle off their responsibilities on spending effectively."

Downing Street and the Home Office are continuing to deny any plans to reverse cuts to police budgets, however.

"It's time the government realised the dangers of their cuts and re-opened the police spending review immediately," shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said.

"The public need reassurance that the police have the resources and officers they need to keep the streets safe and maintain law and order not only now but through the summer and beyond.

"The scale of government cuts is making it harder for the police to do their jobs and keep us safe. The police need our support and our government should be first to provide it."

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg refused to acknowledge that the riots meant the government had to change course on its deficit reduction agenda, however.

"Of course this is a massive challenge and it is incredibly unsettling for people," he told the Today programme.

"But... I don't think it actually would help any of us if what we do in reaction to that is say, 'OK, we're going to stop the difficult job that we're doing as a country and as a government to wipe the slate clean for future generations'.

"That isn't a recipe of success for the long term, and what we're trying to do as a government is, yes, take difficult decisions today for the long term benefit of future generations in years to come."

Labour's decision to focus its political attack on police cuts is a change of tone from the less successful approach trialled by the party's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, on Newsnight earlier this week.

She claimed that the riots took place because politicians are "out of touch", prompting education secretary Michael Gove to accuse her of "speaking out of both sides of her mouth".


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