Labour pledges to ‘restore’ neighbourhood policing
Labour has pledged to “restore” neighbourhood policing after warning that under the Conservatives the number of “bobbies on the beat” has fallen by a third, leaving the service “decimated”.
The party is highlighting figures from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), which it says show the number of neighbourhood officers or police community support officers (PCSOs) per 1,000 residents has been cut by around a third in 10 years in England and Wales.
In Cambridgeshire and Surrey there is only one neighbourhood officer or PCSO per 5,000 residents or more, the party said.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Police out on the beat and visible in local neighbourhoods are vital for stopping crime and keeping communities safe.
“Yet under the Tories, neighbourhood policing has been decimated – with fewer neighbourhood officers stretched to cover more and more people. The Government is letting criminals off and letting communities down.
“Britain deserves better. The last Labour government brought in neighbourhood policing – now we will restore it, starting with community police hubs and local prevention teams to tackle crime at its source.”
Labour says figures from HMICFRS show there was one neighbourhood officer or PCSO for every 1,650 people in 2012/13 in England and Wales. But by 2021/22 the party said that had changed to one such officer for every 2,400 residents.
Labour is also pointing to figures which it says show the number of officers assigned to neighbourhood roles has fallen by more than 7,000 to 16,577 in England and Wales since 2015.
The Home Office figures are caveated by noting that not all police forces can make clear distinctions between neighbourhood policing and other functions. The same data shows “local policing”, which includes neighbourhood policing as well as other roles, rose from around 61,000 to just over 62,000 in the same period.
Total police officer numbers have dropped from 141,850 in the 43 forces across England and Wales in 2010 to 135,301 in 2021, according to Home Office figures. Both totals exclude the British Transport Police and National Crime Agency.
The Government has pledged to recruit 20,000 police officers by 2023, with more than 11,000 hired so far.
A Government spokeswoman responded: “Beating crime is the Government’s number one priority.
“Our communities are safer. You are less likely to be a victim of gun or knife crime, less likely to have your house broken into, and less likely to be a victim of car crime. We know that the pandemic has had an effect on crime, but we are determined to build on the reductions we have seen.”