With Westminster in recess, it’s a good opportunity to catch up with organisations, agencies and businesses in my constituency.
Most public bodies are worried about spending cuts, none more so than the police. I take a particular interest in policing, having been a Home Office Minister, and so I was keen to speak with our local police commander and Northumbria Police’s new chief constable.
If the government persists with its spending plans, forces could be facing cuts of up to 40 per cent. Northumbria depends more on central funding than local precept payers compared with some other forces so we could be hit particularly hard.
There is concern – which I share – that policing as we know it will disappear. One nearby force pledges not to take action against cannabis possession, which I disagree with, another may not send officers when a burglary happens, again a mistake.
What would happen, I wonder, if Premiership football matches were prevented because the police couldn’t guarantee public safety outside grounds? Or if officers could not attend A&E when drunks threaten staff? Or what would happen in communities if we could no longer afford neighbourhood policing?
Crime locally is up by 15 per cent. The Home Secretary says all the police have to do is tackle crime. These proposed cuts make that task much harder.