Fund for fighting crime slashed by over 50%
MORE than £1 million has been wiped off 'crucial' crime-fighting budgets in just two years, new figures show.
The Community Safety Fund covers CCTV cameras, street lighting and tackling gangs – but funding has been more than halved across Bristol and the surrounding area.
And there were warnings that the cutbacks mean the new Avon and Somerset police commissioner, who will be elected later this month, has been handed "a poisoned chalice".
The commissioner will take responsibility for the fund, currently managed by community safety partnerships, from next year. But the budget he or she will control is less than half what it was two years ago.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Kevin Phillips, of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: "Coming in as police commissioner, midway through a spending review – I wouldn't want to be in their seat.
"It is a poisoned chalice for them, coming in and already knowing about the budget cuts. Everything is being squeezed – it doesn't matter what angle you come from."
Mr Phillips said local community safety projects were vital in the fight against crime. He added that police officers might end up having to carry out back-office tasks like monitoring CCTV cameras if the cuts mean their operators are let go.
According to the figures, released by the Labour Party, the fund in Bristol has been slashed from £747,343 in 2010 to £301,601 this year, with a total cut of £1.24 million over the Avon and Somerset force area.
Labour claimed the deep cuts showed ministers had "turned their backs on the fight against crime" – warning further reductions were on the way.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Theresa May (the Home Secretary) is setting police and crime commissioners up because she wants them to take the flack for her mess."
Meanwhile, no budget has been announced for crime prevention spending from next April, prompting Labour to claim that further cuts are looming.
Ms Cooper said the cuts to funding for CCTV, street lighting, action on gangs, youth services and community safety projects would make it "much harder for the police and communities to prevent crime".
She added: "The government won't even admit, until after the police and crime commissioner elections, what funding will be for crime prevention in future.
The Home Office declined to comment on the cuts, and the uncertainty about budgets from next April.
However, in a letter to chief constables, which acknowledged the 60 per cent cut, it said commissioners would control other funding sources, including drug intervention programme grants.
The letter said: "Effective community safety partnerships play a crucial role in helping to tackle crime and reduce re-offending.
"It is essential for local agencies to work together to protect vulnerable people, provide better services for their communities and limit the impact of tightening public budgets."