- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
50 Police Officer posts and 165 staff positions were cut at Dyfed-Powys Police between March 2010 and September 2011, according to figures seen by Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson.
The Labour Assembly Member revealed the figures during a debate at the National Assembly in which she argued for an assessment of the impact of police spending cuts on crime levels in Wales. The figures show that the number of Police Officers at the force went down from 1,195 in March 2010 to 1,145 last September.
In a lively debate on the final settlement for Welsh police authorities in 2012-13 on Tuesday (21 February), Mrs Watson quoted Ian Arundale, Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police, who has described the cuts as a “watershed moment for policing in mid and west Wales” and voiced concerns about how the police will be able to protect communities.
Mrs Watson said:
“I am sure that no-one is under any illusion about the sheer scale of cuts imposed by the Westminster Government, which are hitting our police forces really hard. The steepest cuts have come in the first two years, making it even harder to make long-term savings and putting more pressure on police forces to cut their numbers of staff and officers.
“Figures show that we are seeing the biggest fall in the numbers of police in decades at the same time as we are seeing the biggest increase in crimes such as sexual assault and robbery. The chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Ian Arundale, has described the funding crisis as a watershed moment for policing in Mid and West Wales. He said that he is genuinely concerned about how he will be able to protect his communities and bring criminals to justice if his force has to reduce its strength by any more than it already has.”
Mrs Watson, who sits on the Assembly committee for Communities, Equality and Local Government, continued:
“Dyfed-Powys Police has already taken some very tough decisions. Between March 2010 and last September alone, 50 police officer posts were cut and 165 staff were let go. We have also seen police stations close. However, keeping our streets safe remains a top priority for people in Mid and West Wales. That is why the Welsh Government’s commitment to invest in 500 new police community support officers in this Assembly is crucial. We are doing what we can in Wales within our budget and powers to support our police and to keep our communities safe. In the Dyfed-Powys Police area, the first wave of recruits is already in training, and they will be a visible, reassuring presence in our communities, tackling anti-social behaviour and crimes such as domestic abuse.
“What worries me and many people is that the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster are concerned only with cutting costs, and not with cutting crime. The Westminster Government has turned its back on the police. Individual police forces have had to come up with plans for dealing with the financial realities. They have adopted different approaches and ways of driving down costs. There has been talk of using regulation A19 to retire officers with 30 years of service, including some of the forces’ most experienced officers. There are a range of options on the table with regard to compulsory redundancies for police staff, taking police officers from front-line duties to backfill their roles, police station closures and the critical mass of back-office support staff. We must monitor and evaluate the impact that these decisions have on crime in our communities to ensure that we can mitigate the worst effects of these cuts.”
For more information contact Joyce Watson’s office on 02920 898972 or on www.joycewatson.co.uk.