In the last few weeks, I, like many of you, have watched from the sidelines as police officers nationwide have campaigned for people to listen to their predicament.
They have been dignified, they have been loud, and for only the second time in my lifetime, police officers take to the streets tomorrow.
Sadly, the police have come under attack from so many different directions at the same time, it’s no surprise they are marching. You could pick several reasons as to why they are on the streets.
The reality is that the march campaigns mainly against the massive and excessive 20% cuts imposed by the Government, which has already taken thousands of front line police off our streets.
Yes, the police have grievances against the Winsor reforms. Yes the police have grievances against privatisation. But they take to the streets principally over cuts.
And yes, contrary to what some of you may realise, the police themselves know they must be cut. But not by 20%. The level is draconian. HMIC proposed cuts of 12%. To go another 8% means the Government has no grasp of policing today. Cuts in funding equates to cuts in police numbers on the streets. And that means the potential for more fear of crime, and more crime being committed.
As a Candidate standing for the Police and Crime Commissioner role in November, I was asked yesterday “What do I see as the most significant policing issue in my area?”
Without a shadow of a doubt, it is police numbers. Austerity has gone too far.
Jacqui Smith relented when the police marched against her four years ago. I only hope Theresa May does too. Otherwise as we enter a new phase of policing in this country, we enter with a demoralised and overstretched workforce.