By Claire Holden
Labour's policing chiefs have called on the Government to rethink plans to cut more than 1,500 officers from Greater Manchester Police.
Shadow policing minister David Hanson joined MP Tony Lloyd – who is the party's candidate to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester – and GMPA chairman Cllr Paul Murphy in Piccadilly Gardens today to launch a petition.
They fear mounting social pressures and a rise in crimes such as burglary, robbery and street thefts as a result of the cuts.
Mr Hanson, Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister, said: “My worry is that you can’t take that number of boots off the ground without having a real impact on policing locally.
The government announced plans to cut 1,500 members of the GMP over the next three years, amounting to 20 per cent of the Greater Manchester police force.
There have been 650 cuts already.
Mr Hanson said: “That’s not sustainable to help support the falls in crime that we have seen over the last 15 or 16 years.
“Even under the last Conservative government we saw a start in the fall in crime, but this government is really cutting police too far.”
One in ten Greater Manchester police officers are being sent to support the Olympics in London after the G4S scandal, that saw officers from GMP being deployed to secure a Worsley hotel – the location of four Olympic football teams – as only 17 of 56 expected G4S staff turned up.
A few days later, only nine out of an expected 140 G4S workers turned up for training in Trafford.
Mr Lloyd, Labour’s Greater Manchester police and crime commissioner candidate, said: “It is good we go these things, but we want to know that we are not going to be punished for being an improving police force or for the fact that we are the biggest police authority outside of London.”
He fears that increasing the pressure on police while reducing their numbers at a time when other social indicators suggest that crime might go up is the wrong way of approaching a problem.
Mr Lloyd said: “We have a rising number of young people who are not in work, not in training, not in education; we know that that is likely, if we don’t do anything about it, to result in social pressures.
“Take the riots last year; I’m not saying that was a justified response, but we knew that there was a social connection with young people who feel that they have got no role in society.”
Mr Hanson said: “What I think we have got to do is get more police back on the beat to support neighborhood policing teams and make sure that we have a strong voice to argue against next year’s cuts.
“People value the police and want to see local police physically on the streets, and the type of cut that we have here mean that police constables, like Peter Fahey [Chief Constable of GMP] and potential commissioners, are going to face a real challenge and difficulty in putting those police on the streets.”