Impact of Cuts to Public Safety – Is Not a Surprise.
The rise in concerns about public safety in Northampton’s Open spaces hasn’t come as a great surprise to those who live in the areas and those who use and want to enjoy what are and rightly should be the jewels across the whole of the Borough.
It has certainly not come as a surprise to those of us who campaigned against the Conservative controlled Northamptonshire County Council and Northampton Borough Council who decided earlier this year to compound the 20% cut in police funding by the Liberal Democrat – Conservative coalition Government by implementing further cuts locally.
It is a decision the impact of which is now coming home to roost and which will leave severe gaps in the coverage available across the Borough this September when actual PCSO’s on the ground leave their posts.
The problem is that those who have made the decision have no understanding of modern-day law enforcement which falls into two basic areas.
The first is public reassurance which can only be achieved by high visibility of police representation in local areas. It is very much the way the British Army has operated for countless years, moving into an area and being highly visible through the simple method of putting ‘boots on the ground’.
It is what the role of the PCSO was perfect for and also provides a great deal of local intelligence especially in the area of anti-social behaviour which is a continuing serious concern to many of the residents of Northampton.
The second area of policing is of course prevention, detection and intelligence led policing that depends on the police constable and officers who build up a picture that allows the perpetrators to be brought before the courts.
There is also a role for Neighbourhood Wardens and the Park Rangers to help in prevention and enforcement which is why Labour proposed in our alternative budget that in addition to reversing the cuts to PCSO’s the current three Park Rangers be changed from part-time to full-time roles, (and an additional one recruited to work in Beckets Park), and an increase of three neighbourhood wardens to work across and with communities.
Unfortunately they were proposals that the Conservative administration rejected out of hand in spite of them being fully costed and approved by the Borough Council finance officers.
It was a decision taken based on nothing more than political dogma with no concern for the impact on the public.
What the recent support by the Chronicle and Echo to protect the Racecourse demonstrates is that the Labour policy of “Listening to Northampton” and our campaign to reverse the cuts to police and public safety funding is the right policy.
Putting the people of Northampton first, it is Labour who is the party of Law and Order.
It will unquestionably be a major issue during the forthcoming campaign for the role of elected Police Commissioner and I’m sure the public will be fully aware that it was the Conservatives supported by the Liberal Democrats in Westminster, and Conservatives in Northampton who have put their failing economic policies before the safety and protection of the public.