Editor’s article on Surrey Police Funding gap

Following concern over the  tone of his recent press releases I wrote to Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley.  His reply far from reassuring painted an even worse picture than his early circulations.  His reply is reproduced here.

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Thank you for your email regarding police funding.

I ran for election for one reason: I wanted to try and improve the “Sense of Safety” in the County of Surrey. An implied task is of course ensuring the Police are working as effectively as possible. I want to protect the old and vulnerable.

Achieving safety is not just a role for the Police of course; Councils dealing with problem families and diverting youth from crime is a key element, adequate numbers of quality prosecutors is another, well managed and resourced local courts is a key enabler, adequate numbers of prison places with sufficient staff to engage in rehabilitation is important as of course is proper provision for probation staff and drug treatment.

All of the above have had large reductions to their funding, they will suffer further reductions in the coming years. In short the entire contribution of all those involved in the delivery or Criminal Justice/Public will get worse as the cuts bite. i.e. not only will individuals be less safe  but also the economy will suffer further damage as crime impacts on business whether frauds against banking or retail theft – shoplifting. i.e. companies will be less profitable and jobs will be lost and with that the tax base to pay for Health , Education, Defence etc.

Turning to the position of Surrey Police and what I have been trying to do regarding funding:

Surrey now gets the worst Government funding grant in the country. The council tax payers now put more into policing in their Council Tax than Government gives us. Since being elected, I have written to the Chancellor, Home Secretary, Police Minister and our eleven MPs asking them to do something about the unfairness. I have repeated this exercise with individual MPs a number of times; nothing has changed.

Following what is effectively going to be a 40% reduction in Government funding for police (spread over several years) we have been and are doing a lot of things to address this. The first and unseen thing is there has been a major reduction in the level of training given to our staff; this effects all of them from new constables to chief officers e.g detectives are now far less well trained.  We are now collaborating with neighbouring forces and emergency services to save on everything from sharing fingerprint officers to the helicopter-of course the service provided has got worse, less people are doing it.  The same is becoming ever more apparent on a daily basis; have you tried ringing our 101 number and see how long you wait?

However, it is now clear that over the next four years will be losing in the region of 450-500 more staff (much worse is happening in Sussex, losing 1000 I could go on) , we cannot balance the books otherwise – we have sold virtually every police station and Government will not do something about the nonsense of having 43 separate police forces with 43 expensive headquarters and frankly a similar number of Police and Crime Commissioners.

That is why I am currently explaining to the people of Surrey what is going on, I am an independent so not bound by a party whip.

To be absolutely clear, policing will get worse, the phones will take longer to answer, they will be slower to respond, detectives will have less expertise and bigger case loads.  If people are worried about it they should be, I am and I know the facts.

That is why I am offering people the option of deciding to pay more in their policing precept to counter some of the impact of the cuts.

People elected me to keep them safe, I will not be able to do so if I don’t raise further funds from those who elect me.

For me to remain silent about the threats to the safety of individuals and commerce would be an abdication of my duty.

To conclude, as a politician I do something unusual; I tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The provision  of policing and our safety will get worse. If the people of Surrey tell me they are prepared to accept this then fine, however if they say they will pay more in their policing precept, we can address some of the impact of the cuts.

I am sorry if this message is unpalatable for some or even a little frightening, but it is my duty to inform the public of what is happening.

Perhaps your readers may wish to tell their MP how they feel about the foregoing.

Please feel free to circulate this email to anyone you wish.

Yours

Kevin Hurley

Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey