MOLE Valley will become an increasingly unsafe place to live and work as police job and budget cuts kick in.
That was the chilling warning issued by Surrey’s Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley this week in response to questions on the future of policing posed by Effingham Residents’ Association (ERA).
Mr Hurley said residents would increasingly notice “our safety and the provision of policing get worse” due to a 40 per cent reduction in government funding.
In a letter to ERA chairman Chris Dick, he wrote: “Not only will individuals be less safe but also the economy will suffer further damage as crime impacts on business.
“The first and unseen thing is there has been a major reduction in the level of training given to our staff; this affects all of them, from new constables to chief officers and detectives. Of course the service provided has got worse; fewer people are providing it. It’s becoming ever more apparent on a daily basis; have you tried ringing our 101 number and seeing how long you wait?
“To be absolutely clear, policing will get worse, the phones will take longer to answer, they will be slower to respond and 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.”
Mr Hurley said it was “now clear” that Surrey Police will lose in the region of 450 to 500 staff over the next four years, combined with those who had already lost their jobs.
He said balancing the books was impossible without such measures, as forces had already done all they could, including shutting stations such as Leatherhead.
The former Detective Chief Superintendent said he hoped residents would embrace his call for Surrey Police’s council tax precept to increase by £1 a week.
“Surrey gets the worst government funding grant in the country,” he said. “The council taxpayers now put more into policing through their council tax than the government does.
“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.”
He added: “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.”
Mr Hurley came into office in 2012, winning the election as an independent candidate championing “zero tolerance” of crime.
He said: “For me to remain silent about the threats to the safety of individuals and commerce would be an abdication of my duty.
“As a politician I do something unusual; I tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Our safety and the provision of policing will get worse.
“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.”
Reacting to Mr Hurley’s letter, Mr Dick told the Advertiser he was “pleasantly surprised” by the commissioner’s forthrightness.
“I had become concerned about the way in which money was being asked for through taxation so thought it was best to ask him directly about it,” said Mr Dick.
“I have to say I was taken back by his response as it was refreshingly frank about the whole situation.”
To see the letter in full, visit www.effinghamresidents.org