In a crucial debate in Parliament on the UK’s crime and policing this week Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, urged the UK Government to increase its planned investment in policing immediately by recruiting an additional 2,000 frontline officers.
Due to a decade of austerity cuts by the UK Government, the country has 20,000 fewer police officers now than in 2010, and even after the Government’s proposed recruitment of 20,000 officers is complete, both South Wales Police and Gwent Police will still have fewer officers than a decade ago, as crime rates across South Wales continue to rise.
Following a decade of Tory austerity, funding for youth services has fallen by 70% since 2010, while the Welsh Government budget has been cut by £4 billion over this period, forcing local authorities to cut further public services, including community safety and crime prevention services.
In the debate in Parliament, Gerald said:
“Local authorities have been forced to make these cuts because of Tory austerity. As we have heard a number of times this afternoon, cuts have consequences. Let us be absolutely clear: austerity was always a political choice.
“Other factors include a reduction of almost half —from £145 million to £72 million—in the funding for youth offending teams since 2010, and a 68% increase in the number of knife offences in England and Wales.”
During the debate, Gerald also called for clarity from the Government on its apprenticeship levy, following months of uncertainty around funding for police officer graduate apprenticeship training for the four Welsh police forces.
The Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP also paid tribute to Gwent and South Wales police authorities, recognising the work they do and the support they provide to communities and local authorities, and praised South Wales Police’s work on tackling domestic violence, saying:
“South Wales Police in particular has been doing excellent work in tackling domestic violence, and I hope that the Minister will join me in congratulating the South Wales police and crime commissioner on his foresight in promoting the DRIVE programme to tackle the perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse.
“The commissioner, Alun Michael, has told me that he is so pleased with the work of Safer Merthyr Tydfil, and similar work in Cardiff, that he and the chief constable, Matt Jukes, are determined to roll it out to every part of the South Wales Police area.”