Yvette Cooper Warns: British Police Face A 'Perfect Storm' Of Cuts, Reform And Evolving Threats

Yvette Cooper Cuts Warning

First Posted: 06/12/11 11:20 Updated: 06/12/11 11:20   PA

British police face a "perfect storm" of cuts in staff, "chaotic" reforms and evolving threats to the public, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will warn.

Launching an independent commission on the future of policing, she will say that morale among officers is also at "rock bottom". The inquiry is to be led by former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens and comes after the Government rebuffed Labour calls for a Royal Commission into policing.

"Each and every one of us rely on the police - to maintain law and order, to sustain respect for the rule of law, to prevent crime, bring criminals to justice, to keep us safe and to give us confidence in our security," Ms Cooper will say.

"Yet policing in Britain now faces a perfect storm. There are new challenges and growing demands on the police - from cyber crime to international terror, from riots and public order to honour killings.

"And the police like other public services need to continually reform and adapt to keep up with new challenges and growing public expectations. Yet at the same time police forces are having to cope with 20% cuts and the loss of 16,000 officers.

"Chaotic and confused reforms - including things like the muddled abolition of the National Policing Improvement Agency - are creating uncertainty and even greater fragmentation. And most seriously of all, morale in the police is now at rock bottom, made worse by ministers rush to blame the police whenever things go wrong."

Ms Cooper will say that the summer riots, the phone hacking scandal and signs that crime has stopped falling showed that it was time for "a new vision" for policing.

"Six months ago I called on the Government to set up a Royal Commission or overarching review. They have not done so. Instead we have had only a fragmented programme of contradictory reforms driven by cuts, shaped by too narrow a view of both of the role of policing and of the role of government in tackling crime."

The review will look at what is expected of the police, their role in society and how to best equip them to cut crime and increase public confidence. It will also look at how they are held to account, the bureaucracy that affects their work and the need to strike the right balance between the need for the police service to meet both local and national priorities.

However Policing Minister Nick Herbert has said Labour's decision to set up an inquiry was "an abdication of any kind of political leadership". He added it was wrong for Labour to be "sub-contracting decisions on police reform, reform which they espoused in government and are now opportunistically opposing, to a committee".

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Filed by Dina Rickman  |