MP Ed Balls claims police cuts are ‘tip of the iceberg’

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MORLEY’S MP and Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls yesterday told the Home Affairs Select Committee that cuts to frontline policing would undermine the fight against crime and risk national security.

Mr Balls gave evidence to a cross party group of MPs that 16 out of 43 police authorities have confirmed they are planning a total of 14,482 job losses.

In West Yorkshire, Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison has predicted that by 2015 there will be 500 fewer police officers and up to 1,000 fewer support staff as cuts bite.

That was echoed by chief constables across the country who confirmed they had stopped recruiting and were planning redundancies.

Mr Balls said: “14,500 police jobs, including over 6,000 officers, are already set to go.

“But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The vast majority of police forces have not yet announced how many jobs will go and some of those which have are only currently putting figures on job losses for one year.”

He added: “At a time of rising public protest, an ongoing terror threat, the security challenge of next year’s Olympics and an expensive reorganisation of policing, these cuts are a reckless and dangerous gamble.

“They will undermine the fight against crime and take unnecessary risks with national security and the safety of our communities.

“The government should go back to the drawing board and think again.”

In a letter to a Halifax councillor and to Mr Balls, Sir Norman said the Government required them to reduce spending by 20 per cent and that by 2015 they should be spending £90m less than they did in 2010.

He added: “Given that a police force is made up of people to provide public service, we spend 85 per cent of our budget on direct employee costs.

“It is obvious therefore that out organisation will have to be smaller, employing fewer people than it does today.”

He went on to say they have not recruited since last summer and that natural leavers will not be replaced.

In the first two years, he added, they would be looking at around 300 “enforced redundancies”.

West Yorkshire Police currently has 10,481 staff including 5,758 police officers, 3,530 civilian staff, 763 police community support officers (PCSOs) and 421 special constables.

Yesterday Leeds City Council announced that funding for PCSOs will not be cut and they will continue to contribute £1.4m to fund the 324 PCSOs working across the city.

Coun Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for community safety, said: “This is a very difficult time in local government and we are having to look very closely at how we spend our money. However, as a council we are not prepared to compromise on public safety.

“As a council and as part of the Safer Leeds partnership we are committed to supporting neighbourhood policing.”

Morley Town Council has also pledged to continue paying more than £50,000 for local PCSOs.