AFTER the appalling scenes of riots and criminality played out across parts of London and other English cities last week, I wonder how many local people who read the recent feature on cuts to Sussex policing levels are now seriously questioning the wisdom and need for this course of action?
Leaving aside any analysis of why these highly-disturbing events took place, it is patently clear that plans to cut police budgets by 20 per cent over a four-year period need to be seriously re-considered.
Here in Bognor Regis, due to the hard work and dedication of our local police service and others in the community, crime has been steadily falling.
But for how long will this continue?
Most expert opinion including Her Majesty`s Inspector of Constabulary accept that whilst some cuts are sustainable, a 20 per cent cut will lead to a rise in crime and less protection for the public.
Policing minister Nick Herbert in last week’s feature talked optimistically about cuts to ‘back and middle offices’ and other ‘efficiency savings’ squaring the circle in order to achieve the cuts with little or no effect on ‘front-line policing’.
How realistic is this now in the light of the events of a few days ago, and is he just whistling in the dark and relying on the fast-diminishing goodwill of many dedicated police officers and support staff to hopefully bring about the required outcome?
We know all about the need to reduce the deficit and the police service playing their part in this, but there are other ways of doing this rather than carrying out a risky experiment that could have a really damaging impact on the safety and well-being of local people.
For example, how about a realistic annual tax on investment banking bonuses, or consideration of a land tax and a Tobin tax on casino banking transactions, plus getting a real programme for growth in place as quickly as possible in order to stop our deficit rising as it sadly is now?
There are more imaginative ways of dealing with our current serious economic woes than hitting the police and other services which only adds fuel to public anxiety of what the near future might bring.
Leader of Arun Labour Group