The public deserve facts on police numbers

This week the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner announced that Sussex Police will get funding for 379 police officers in our region.

This is part of a government programme to recruit 20,000 more police officers.

I welcome any efforts to make communities safer. However, digging beneath the newspaper headlines, claims of a boost in funding from Boris Johnson’s government don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Figures from the House of Commons Library expose the truth. A decade of Conservative government cuts has seen Sussex lose almost 613 officers.

Even with the new recruits announced this week, there are still 234 fewer constables and 161 fewer police community support officers than there were in 2010.

There are complex reasons why criminality is a factor in our society – and far from joining a moral crusade, we must deal in facts.

Government cuts have left communities – like in my own ward – dealing with the impact of crime.

At the Brunswick Local Action Team (LAT), our community tell us they deeply value police and council officers helping them.

While communities around the city have called for support tackling hate crime too.

Yet the announced increase in police numbers doesn’t actually address that need. According to leaked reports from the Home Office, new officers will be recruited away from frontline roles- meaning the “bobbies on the beat” won’t necessarily increase.

The cuts to the police have not been isolated of course. Council cuts have been the worst of any public sector organisation.

On top of slashed budgets to our community groups, these cuts have hit services that help to prevent people being drawn to crime and that support survivors.

This is the reality of a decade of government cuts – an approach we have opposed from the beginning.

That’s pensioners in my ward reporting open drug dealing, small businesses feeling defenceless against a spate of shop burglaries over the summer but it’s also significant spikes in violence against the person and hate crime.

We stand with our communities but we refuse to join the rush from ministers to try to pull wool over people’s eyes about the facts.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the opposition Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council.

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