MP tells of community fears over cuts in local policing

Home Office Ministers were yesterday asked by members of the community from a Sheffield housing estate to rethink police budget cuts because of concerns that they would lose their police community support officers.

Members of the Manor Assembly, which represents people living in the Manor area of Sheffield, made their request through Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield, who spoke at Home Office Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday.

During the parliamentary session, Mr Blomfield challenged Home Office Ministers about the impact of police budget cuts on the number of Police Community Support Officers in Sheffield.

He said cuts to the local policing budget put the jobs of 337 PCSOs employed in South Yorkshire at risk. He warned crime could increase if jobs were cut and was supported by Ken Curran, chair of Manor Assembly.

Mr Blomfield said the Government had its "priorities wrong" by planning to spend 100m on police commissioners when budgets are being savagely cut.

Last night Mr Blomfield said: "We should be focusing our resources on cutting crime, not police numbers. There are currently over 300 PCSOs working South Yorkshire and I know from seeing their work in my constituency that they do vitally important work to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

"Crime in South Yorkshire has fallen for the last four consecutive years and front-line job losses would undoubtedly cause crime to increase."

Ken Curran, the chairman of the Manor Assembly, said: "Our local PCSOs do a great job in tackling crime in Manor and have an excellent relationship with the local community. I think there would be a dramatic detrimental impact if the community police jobs were cut.

"The PCSOs are currently calling on the most vulnerable elderly people to make sure they're ok in the snow, and their constant presence helps reduce the fear of crime."

Mr Blomfield added: "People will be rightly angry that at the same time as cutting funding for frontline police, the government wants to spend over 100m – the equivalent of 600 full time police officers – on bringing in directly elected police commissioners. They have got their priorities wrong."