Labour pledges money to safeguard 10,000 police officers

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper
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More than 10,000 police officers will be kept on the beat as a result of £800m worth of police savings, Labour will today say.

In a challenge to continuing Home Office cuts which have seen numbers fall nationally by nearly 16,000 since 2009, and could see more go in the next parliament, Labour will today commit to safeguarding neighbourhood policing teams.

Party leader Ed Miliband will promise to use £800m found by scrapping police commissioners and reducing back office costs to pay for chief constables to safeguard front line policing for at least three years.

The Conservatives have warned the commitments are unfundable, accusing Labour of relying on unspecified savings at a time when the public sector has already cut back spending.

Labour, who will make the policing pledge a manifesto commitment, said they would reduce by half the cost of police governance and end the police subsidy of gun licenses in a bid to fund the policy.

Mr Miliband will launch the party’s crime and policing plan today with a warning that “neighbourhood policing is at risk of disappearing.”

He said: “We will make different choices, finding savings to safeguard 10,000 officers in the next three years. We will ensure victims are at the heart of the criminal justice system with the country’s first ever Victims’ Law.

“And we will ensure the police have the powers they need to keep us safe, including proper controls for dangerous terror suspects.

“Everyone in Britain has a right to feel safe and secure. I am committed to ensuring a Labour Government makes that a reality.”

He was backed by Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, who said: “Neighbourhood policing is far too important to let the Tories destroy it. That’s why Labour is setting out a better plan - including abolishing police and crime commissioners and putting savings back into the frontline so we can keep police on the beat.”

The Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford candidate added: “The independent police inspectorate has warned that neighbourhood policing is already being undermined. Now senior police officers across the country are warning that neighbourhood policing will be lost altogether if the Tories’ extreme plans are carried out.”

Labour’s full manifesto, set to be launched next week, will include plans for a Victim’s Law setting out minimum standards victims of crime can expect, as well as a renewed focus on violence against women and children.

That sexual violence focus will see all young people taught about safe and healthy relationships by introducing age-appropriate compulsory sex and relationship education in all state-funded schools, Labour’s manifesto will say.

The Conservatives said that crime had fallen over to the last five years and was now at a record low, despite the need for savings in the policing budget.

Last night Home Secretary Theresa May said: “These are the same tired, unfunded promises from a Labour Party who tied up the police with red tape and central targets, and who have opposed everything we have done to help the police do more with less.

“People have had enough of Labour’s made-up numbers and scaremongering. When we started to clear up the mess left by their legacy of debt, they warned that crime would rise.

“They were wrong: crime is down by more than a fifth under this Government, and has never been lower.”

Mrs May added: “Through police reform, we have saved 4.5 million hours of police time, increased the proportion of officers on the front line, and given people a direct say in the way their local police work.”