Police Commissioner backs calls for more bobbies on the beat

Dame Vera Baird
Dame Vera Baird

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has backed calls for more bobbies on the beat.

The force's civilian head has given her support to former Scotland Yard Chief Ian Blair, who says funding cuts have undermined neighbourhood policing in London, with not enough officers “visible on the street”.

Amber Rudd

Amber Rudd

Dame Vera believes the same situation applies across England and Wales.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd will be unveiling a Serious Violence Task Force and a new law aimed at halting a rise in violent crime but says she does not believe the current situation is down to a lack of officers on the street.

"New laws don't replace the officers needed to enforce them," said Dame Vera.

"The Home Secretary can't prosecute her way out of this appalling violent crime spike in London nor with other crime increases elsewhere. Deep cuts to police number does affect safety - simple as that.

"Neighbourhood policing was put in place as the bedrock of preventive policing, producing intelligence capable of triggering early intervention to head off criminality. Due to funding cuts, officers are stretched as never before and are unable to focus as much on neighbourhood policing, which in turn reduces intelligence and thwarts prevention”

She added: "In our force cuts have meant we have lost over 900 police officers since 2010, even though I have spent our reserves down to the very tightest safe minimum to keep officers on the beat, but with ever decreasing government funding, like this year yet again, this can't continue".

At Dame Vera's request, Northumbria's Assistant Chief Constable has sent the force's rising crime figures to the Home Secretary. Total crime in Northumbria is up by 109%.

Dame Vera added: "The Home Secretary says that there was an increase in violent crime in the early 2000s when police numbers were higher and so those numbers are irrelevant. Who knows how high that spike would have gone if there were as few cops then as there are now?

"Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has called in 300 extra police a day to patrol London presumably from leave, on overtime and from other duties. The Home Secretary presumably thinks the most senior police officer in our country is misguided to think that will help.

"To tackle rising crime, government needs to restore proper funding for neighbourhood police, for youth services, youth offending teams and probation; to bring back education maintenance so poorer youngsters can go to college. Tackle poverty caused by high housing costs, unemployment and zero hours jobs and to stop slashing in-work benefits. People need hope and opportunities and meanwhile unemployment in the North East alone is now 59000 up 5000 in a year".