Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery has come out in support of Northumbria Police chief constable’s assessment of how police cuts are affecting the force.
Speaking before the Wansbeck MP joined bobbies on the beat around Ashington on Friday night, Mr Lavery condemned “some of the most vicious cuts to public services this country has ever seen” and praised the chief constable for speaking out.
Northumbria Police’s chief constable Winton Keenen said in an open letter they have been forced to make cuts of more than £142million and have lost an “unprecedented“ 1,083 police officers since 2010.
“The stark reality is there have been huge cuts in the amount of money we receive from the Government,” wrote Mr Keenan, adding: “As a direct consequence of the significant budget reductions we continue to experience, we, like other forces, have seen unprecedented reductions in our officers and staff numbers.”
Mr Lavery, who had arranged to go out on patrol with officers on Friday night, said he was shocked by the revelations but welcomed the frank assessment of the chief constable.
He said: “I am alarmed by the comments from Winton Keenan, who as the most senior police officer in the Northumbria force has been upfront and honest about the impact of the Government’s devastating cuts to the police work he is tasked with carrying out.”
The Labour MP blamed the “vicious” cuts on the Government’s austerity agenda, which last week Theresa May claimed would be coming to an end.
“It comes as no surprise to me that cuts of this nature across the U.K. have led to an increase in crime in the Northumbria force area”, he said.
“You cannot police British streets without police officers and the Tories have cut over 21,000 in the past eight years of austerity.”
“It was fortuitous that Mr. Keenan’s comments came out yesterday, as I am preparing to join front-line officers for a shift this evening, so that I can see for myself the sterling work being done by our police staff in the face of some of the most vicious cuts to public services this country has ever seen.
“I am proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with local police officers.”