Today, Charlotte wrote to our Tory MP Johnny Mercer asking him to vote against his Government tomorrow. You can read the letter below.
It was good to meet the other weekend.
As you will be aware, tomorrow the 2018/19 Police Grant Report will be laid before Parliament. I am writing to you today as a constituent to ask that you vote against further Conservative cuts.
The Conservatives cut £2.3 billion from police budgets between 2010 and 2015. Theresa May promised to protect funding after 2015 but, in reality, forces faced further cuts to their budgets. Direct Government funding has fallen by over £400m in real-terms since 2015.
Before Christmas, the Home Office set out its provisional funding settlement for 2018/19, falsely claiming this equated to £450m in extra funding. In reality, the only new money central Government has committed is an extra £50m for counter-terror policing (having previously planned to reduce counter-terrorism funding for police by 7.2% over the next three years – or around £50m).
The remaining funding will only be realised if PCCs increase their policing precept to the maximum amount allowable. Many PPCs will now feel their only option is to pursue a regressive tax, where those affected by local crime are being made to pay for it twice over. I'm sure that, like me, people here in Plymouth Moor View, will ask why it is that they will have to pick up the tab, through the new precept announced last week, rather than your Government fulfilling its promise to properly fund our police.
The Conservative Government itself has only kept its funding at flat-cash levels with last year. That means yet another real-terms cut, this time worth £100m.
Since 2010, across the country we have seen the loss of over 21,000 officers – with more than 17,000 from the frontline - as well as over 6,700 Police Community Support Officers and 17,000 police staff.
Locally, we’ve seen over 600 officers lost since 2010. Police recorded crime in Devon and Cornwall is up by over a fifth in a year. Perhaps most worryingly, violent crime is up 29%. Certain crimes are also showing a dramatic increase, with harassment and stalking up by over two thirds, and sexual offences up by nearly a half.
Even your Conservative colleague, the PCC for Devon and Cornwall, has acknowledged the damage your party’s cuts have caused:
“In meetings with government ministers I have consistently made the case that central Government cuts to funding have been detrimental to policing.”
(Allison Hernandez, Cornwall Live, 18 January 2018, https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/cornwalls-police-boss-alison-hernandez-1082255)
In fact, PCCs and Chief Constables from across the country have come forward to publicly warn of the strain their forces are under and the continued funding reductions they face.
As our local MP, instead of falling in line behind Theresa May as she imposes an eighth year of cuts on our overstretched police, I am asking that you vote against your Government.
Labour will be calling on the Government to urgently think again, and to come back with a fair settlement that properly protects our communities.
Given the public interest in this issue, I am releasing this letter to the media.