Keith Davies AM used a short debate in the Assembly to raise his concerns.
Following 20% cuts by the Westminster coalition, police forces in England and Wales are being forced to make savings. At around £2billion, Keith Davies said these cuts “will lead to the worst budget settlement for the Police in decades. It is too far, too fast”.
Despite pre-election promises from both David Cameron and Nick Clegg, it could amount to a loss of 1,300 police officers by 2014-15. And despite reassurances that this will not affect the front line, HMIC warn that the cuts they face are greater than the number of front line officers in their force.
In 1997-98, under a UK Labour Government, the total funding for the Welsh Police Authorities increased by 38% or over £112 million and crime across the UK fell by 43%, compared to the first half of 2011 where it increased.
A key Welsh Labour election pledge was to fund 500 PCSO’s, which it has provided £5 million for. Dyfed Powys Police recently recruited 74 PCSO’s.
Keith Davies AM said:
“Fortunately, the response of the Labour Welsh Government in this Assembly has not been a wringing of hands. Community safety and policing is a priority for the Labour Welsh Government…increasing the Community Safety Budget to an indicative £44.2 million in 2014-15.”
The Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant AM said:
“Officers have tirelessly served our country and are being subjected to cuts on a scale that they have never seen before.”
“We empathise with them on a personal level as their terms, conditions and pensions are being eroded and their contribution to society is being devalued.”
The inequality consequences of the Windsor review on police pay and conditions, commissioned by the Home Office, were also brought to the attention of the Chamber. One of the review’s recommendations is to introduce fitness tests.
The Police Federation of England and Wales said:
“We know that fitness tests have an adverse impact on women, older people and disabled people…The most successful candidates through Windsor’s recruitment process would be young, white men.”
Keith Davies asked the Minister for Local Government and Communities, Carl Sargeant AM, to raise these issues in any future talks with the UK coalition government.