Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has appealed to new Home Secretary Amber Rudd to steady the ship in the wake of tumbling police officer numbers.
Speaking after Home Office figures revealed that police officer numbers in England and Wales have dropped by 20,000 since 2009, Tony said:
“Policing has suffered greatly under the Government’s austerity agenda and, although Greater Manchester Police has admirably transformed the way it delivers policing services, officer numbers must be at the level needed to tackle the complex demands of modern policing.
“With £180m axed from GMP’s budget since 2010, and 2,000 further few officers on our streets, the police service of Greater Manchester has been stretched to breaking point, and I urge Amber Rudd to steady the ship as we move into this new period of government.
“It’s no longer just about catching car thieves and burglars – it’s also about protecting some of the most vulnerable individuals on the fringes of our society: victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and child sexual exploitation. Cybercrime and fraud are also dominating the policing landscape. These are all complex crimes that require significant resources and intelligent partnership working.”
Home Office figures reveal that between March 2015 and March 2016, officer numbers actually increased in some areas, including Surrey, Cheshire, and Hertfordshire. While Greater Manchester once again found itself at the other end of the spectrum with a 6% loss in officer numbers over the same period.
Earlier this week, reports revealed that police recorded crime in Greater Manchester increased by 12% between April 2015 and March 2016. National figures also reveal that 1 in 10 people have been victims of cybercrime. The 5.8 million cybercrimes in England and Wales almost double the headline crime rate, leading to questions about whether Home Office police reforms are in fact working.
Although Greater Manchester Police is preparing to recruit for the first time in 5 years, this will only serve to maintain current officer numbers by offsetting those leaving through retirement or new employment.
While the government rolled back on its plan to axe a further 20% from the local policing budget this financial year, uncertainty of future funding, coupled with cuts to other services means GMP still faces significant financial challenges. A smaller government grant, increased demand on policing and rising costs mean that Tony Lloyd will have to find £29.6m of savings in 2016-17, and an estimated £67m in total by 2020.