PM feel­ing the heat as she stretches long arm of the law

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

Mrs May promised dur­ing the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence that aus­ter­ity would come to an end and fund­ing for pub­lic ser­vices would in­crease, but only af­ter the Gov­ern­ment spend­ing re­view next year.

She re­peated the com­ments in the House of Com­mons on Wed­nes­day, when she said: “We will be set­ting out an ap­proach in the spend­ing re­view next year.

“What does it mean? I’ll tell you what it means: it means debt go­ing down as a share of the econ­omy and sup­port for pub­lic ser­vices go­ing up.”

How­ever, Labour will ac­cuse Mrs May of break­ing her prom­ise if there is no sign of an end to aus­ter­ity in the Chan­cel­lor’s Bud­get on Mon­day.

Mr Ham­mond is also re­ported to be re­luc­tant to pro­vide more cen­tral fund­ing for po­lice.

In­stead, the Cabi­net is con­sid­er­ing scrap­ping the cap on po­lice pre­cept in­creases. This is a cap on the amount that Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sion­ers are al­lowed to add to coun­cil tax bills in or­der to fund polic­ing.

The cap for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year was £12 per house­hold.

Scrap­ping the cap could mean in­creases per house­hold of £50-a-year – a mea­sure likely to be un­pop­u­lar with coun­cil tax pay­ers but which would pro­vide a wel­come boost to po­lice bud­gets.

The £12 in­crease pro­vided an ex­tra £9.5 mil­lion for West Mid­lands Po­lice this year.

The Home Af­fairs Com­mit­tee re­port paints a damn­ing pic­ture of po­lice forces that can­not cope with the de­mands placed on them.

The MPs said: “Forces are badly over­stretched: the num­ber of tra­di­tional vol­ume crimes is ris­ing, but the num­ber of ar­rests and charges brought by the po­lice is fall­ing.

“Polic­ing is strug­gling to cope in the face of chang­ing and ris­ing crimes, as a re­sult of fall­ing staff num­bers, out­dated tech­nol­ogy, ca­pa­bil­i­ties and struc­tures, and frag­mented lead­er­ship and di­rec­tion. With­out sig­nif­i­cant re­form and in­vest­ment, com­mu­ni­ties will be in­creas­ingly let down.”

While recorded crimes have risen by 32 per cent in the last three years, but the num­ber of charges or sum­mons has de­creased by 26 per cent, and the num­ber of ar­rests is also down.

Al­though the MPs iden­ti­fied fund­ing cuts as a ma­jor prob­lem, they also said that re­forms to polic­ing were needed.

Po­lice needed to im­prove co-oper­a­tion with in­ter­net ser­vice providers to fight child pornog­ra­phy, MPs said, and ev­ery po­lice of­fi­cer should be re­quired to un­der­take at least two days of train­ing in men­tal health is­sues.

Forces had also been too slow to em­brace new tech­nol­ogy, the MPs said. How­ever, they warned that the Gov­ern­ment needed to pro­vide a lead in push­ing po­lice forces to im­prove, and had failed to do so.

The MPs said: “Above all, polic­ing is suf­fer­ing from a com­plete fail­ure of lead­er­ship from the Home Of­fice. As the lead depart­ment for polic­ing, it can­not con­tinue to stand back while crime pat­terns change so fast that the po­lice strug­gle to re­spond.

“Only a cen­tral Gov­ern­ment depart­ment has the clout to drive na­tional part­ner­ships with or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the NHS or with global in­ter­net com­pa­nies, for ex­am­ple.”

The MPs called on the Gov­ern­ment to launch a “trans­par­ent, root and-branch re­view of polic­ing”, pub­lish­ing pro­pos­als by the end of Fe­bru­ary.

With­out ex­tra fund­ing, some­thing will have to give...

> The Home Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee has warned the Gov­ern­ment that po­lice cuts are a threat to safety, jus­tice, com­mu­nity co­he­sion and pub­lic con­fi­dence

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