POLITICS

Labour And Union Chiefs Say Theresa May 'Has Questions To Answer' Over Police Cuts

London has suffered a 68% reduction in community police officers.

05/06/2017 15:37 BST | Updated 05/06/2017 15:41 BST
Hannah Mckay / Reuters

Labour and union chiefs say Theresa May has questions to answer on emergency service cuts in the wake of terror attacks on Manchester and London.

Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer chaired a panel with representatives from the PCS, UNISON, Unite, the Fire Brigades Union, TSSA and RMT shortly after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for the Prime Minister to resign for presiding over police cuts when she was Home Secretary.

While at pains to point out responsibility for the atrocities, which killed 29 people in total and injured scores of others, lay solely with the perpetrators, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said cuts to police which took place under May’s stewardship were having ‘a very real impact’.

“Police Community Support Officers in London have seen the most swingeing cuts, with numbers reduced from 4,607 to just 1,487,” he added.

“They used to go round in pairs for security reasons and can now only go round on their own.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Mark Serwtoka addressing a rally in Trafalgar Square.

 He said PCSOs provide vital support within police forces in terms of building links with communities and helping to gather intelligence, and that it was ‘legitimate to look at Theresa May’s record’ in the wake of her speech on tackling extremism on Sunday.

The FBU said there are now 10,000 fewer firefighters on the streets than there were seven years ago and Unite said there have also been cuts in the number of 999 call handlers, forensics officers and police dog handlers. 

National officer Fiona Palmer said: “Frontline police officers are now having to step in to take on some of this work.”

Theresa May is under increasing pressure over a 20,000 reduction in the number of officers on the streets since 2010.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, which represents British Transport Police staff, said the ‘Tory cuts agenda’ showed the government had shown ‘callous disregard for our safety’.

PA Archive/PA Images
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes.

 “These cuts are having an effect on all our members’ ability to do their job,” he added.

“Would we be more secure if we had 20,000 more police officers on our streets?  I think the simple answer to that is yes.”

The Prime Minister defended her record at a press conference on Monday morning.

She said: “The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has said that the Met is well-resourced, and they are, and that they have very powerful counter-terrorism capabilities, and they do, we have protected counter-terrorism policing budgets.

“We have also provided funding for an increase in the number of armed police officers since 2015. We have protected our all police budgets.”