Community policing has disappeared “in all but name” in some areas as stretched teams are asked to cover the work of more than 9,000 axed colleagues, the Shadow Home Secretary has said.
Yvette Cooper used analysis of police recruitment figures to highlight the gap between the extra work and the number of new officers that are tasked to deal with it.
The Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford said official figures in the House of Commons library showed that 15,307 fewer officers were involved in CID, community relations and safety, dogs, traffic and response units, but only 5,950 had been moved into neighbourhood teams where that work had been transferred.
In a speech designed to demonstrate Labour’s commitment to the work of neighbourhood teams she said: “These figures highlight that we are well on the way to losing neighbourhood policing as we know it.
“With rising violent crime and antisocial behaviour, taking people’s neighbourhood officers away and putting them in cars, or back at the station doing paperwork, is a retrograde step.
“With nearly 10,000 fewer response officers, nearly 1,300 fewer traffic police and hundreds fewer detectives, neighbourhood policing is being protected in name only.”
Ms Cooper’s words come amid growing fears for the future of policing in the UK, as forces struggle to cope with the impact of the coalition’s funding cuts.
Earlier this year the police watchdog raised concerns that local bobbies were being taken off the beat, with a third of people reporting having seen fewer local patrols in the past year.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said funding cuts risked some forces having to “cut too hard and too deep into neighbourhood services”.
And when West Yorkshire Police’s former Detective Chief Superintendent David Knopwood was dismissed after being convicted of drink-driving in June, the stressful nature of his work and lack of support were cited as contributing factors which led to the Knaresborough man’s “major error of judgement”.
The Police Superintendents’ Association’s Victor Marshall, who represented him in the misconduct hearing, said: “As a staff association we think he should have had more support in this critical role.”
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