I recently signed up for Northumbria Police’s ‘Give a Day to Policing’, an excellent initiative designed to keep MPs up to speed with policing in their area.
My ‘day’ was in three parts.
The first was spent with the Safeguarding Team and I visited a specialist unit in Newcastle, where victims of sexual abuse can give evidence and get help in safety.
Then I visited the Marine and Firearms Units.
Both showed the changing needs of policing and the highly specialist roles police officers play.
Although new threats and challenges sometimes attract new resources from government, everywhere I went officers talked about how stretched their budgets are and how thin the thin blue line has become.
That is borne out by a growing number of constituents who are experiencing a resurgence of anti-social behaviour, but what some see as an inadequate police response.
The powers exist to tackle anti-social behaviour – as a Home Office minister I introduced many.
Local authorities and the police have a duty to work together to make communities safe.
What is missing are the resources, and money from government to pay for sufficient frontline officers.
Crime is rising. But if austerity is going to continue and we’re moving to less officers and cheaper policing, ministers should be honest enough to say so.
That’s not a model most people want, they want they want more officers and they expect the government to fund policing properly.