Norfolk County Council Labour Group Statement on Policing Cuts
Norfolk County Council Labour group regrets and opposes the proposals to abolish PCSO’s in Norfolk and closures to police stations and public enquiry points. On behalf of the Labour group its Leader Steve Morphew said
‘Those of us who go around our neighbourhoods know what a difference seeing a uniform makes to residents. It gives them peace of mind. It makes them feel safer. We know fear of crime often has as much impact on people as crime itself. Promises of visible policing are not just window dressing. Peace of mind and the right to feel safe and secure are fundamental.
It’s hard to criticise the Chief Constable. He is highly respected and will do the best with what he is given. He is not in a position to criticise his political masters. The root cause is the government. The obsession with cuts is failing our communities and doing nothing for our economy. At a time when crime is increasing and in Norfolk we have seen for example a worrying rise in knife crime, the last thing we need is to lose PCSO’s from our streets.
Of course we welcome more fully warranted officers, but it is a false economy to abolish PCSO’s. We know residents chat to PCSO’s. They tell them things that are going on in their community. They simply won’t be able to tell PC’s who won’t be walking around in the same way. We know PCSO’s help keep a lid on casual crime and antisocial behaviour that can blight people’s lives. They see where the drugs are being dealt, anti social behaviour is happening and pick up reports of abusive behaviour.
PCSO’s have always been part of the drive to prevent crime. Warranted police are primarily about solving crimes after they have taken place.
Moving police stations is a euphemism for closure. Rural areas will feel abandoned and overlooked if they lose their stations and public enquiry points, despite the PCC promising to prioritise rural crime. The promise of visible policing is being changed into a reality of invisible policing, and some might wonder if for lower level crime it means non existent policing in future.
This will come back to bite us. When there is an increase in low level crime and anti social behaviour, which will happen as sure as night follows day, there will be an upsurge in public demands and policy will change again. Before that happens there will be many victims, and damage that need not have happened.
These cuts also highlight how pointless and toothless the Police and Crime Commissioners role is. The government have taken no notice of him, he can’t fulfil his election pledges and he can do no more than hold the Chief Constable to account for cuts that are not the Chief Constable’s fault. There is no real accountability, no recall and the money spent on the role could fund several more uniforms on our streets.
It also throws into focus the threat posed by the PCC’s investigation into whether to ask the government to let him take away control of Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service from the county council. It is currently overseen by councillors on behalf of the community but could be taken over by the PCC. Labour in Norfolk has and will continue to oppose that. We will continue to seek support in protecting the public from the same dilution of their Fire and Rescue service as we are seeing in the police.’
Labour Group Leader
Norfolk County Council