This article was first published in the South London Press on 4th August 2017.
With the ongoing Cabinet manoeuvrings on Brexit – one member of the Government says one thing, only to be contradicted by another Minister moments later – the Government have taken their eye off the ball.
The Tory party are more consumed with haggling over who their next leader will be than with the lives and concerns of most families and communities. Cuts by the Tories in Central Government are starting to have a real impact on local services and communities – cuts to school funding, cuts to local government and now further cuts to local policing budgets. In London alone, between 2010 and 2020 the Tory government will cut £1bn from the Metropolitan Police’s budget.
One thousand police officers have already disappeared from London’s streets, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned a further 12,800 could be lost in the next few years – a reduction in its strength of up to 40 per cent. It’s clear that the Tories are trying to protect the public on the cheap. Cuts made to the Metropolitan Police’s budget are not something that any Labour Member of Parliament, Labour councillor or our Labour Mayor of London want to make.
These are tough choices that are having to be made because of the political decisions made by Theresa May’s Tory Government – cuts which started when May was the Home Secretary, in charge of policing. Our city recently suffered two horrific terrorist attacks. Our emergency services showed themselves to be the bravest of the brave, running towards danger, while telling others to run to safety.
Local community policing can act as the eyes and ears for the security services, playing an important role in counter-extremism, catching our young people before they fall into a spiral of extremism and violence. Rather than cutting local policing budgets, and undermining their vital work, Theresa May and the Tories should be doing everything possible to support our police.
If the next set of cuts to the Metropolitan Police’s budget go ahead we not only are facing a cut in police officers on our streets, but also the closure of police stations. In many London boroughs this would mean the closure of all bar one of the public facing desks and stations. In Lambeth we are facing the closure of stations in Cavendish Road, Clement Avenue, Cobalt Square, Coldharbour Lane, Kennington, Loughborough Junction, Norwood Road, and Streatham.
That will leave Brixton police station as the only remaining police station. We are calling on Theresa May, Amber Rudd and the whole Government to reconsider their cuts to our police service. We believe visible community-based policing is vital to tackling crime and providing reassurance. Please support the campaign by signing the SOS #SaveOurStations petition at bit.ly/saveourstations.