'PM's police promises crumble' | Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan
LONG gone are the days when the Conservatives were hailed as being tough on crime. We’re seeing less bobbies on the beat and more crime on our streets.
By going out on patrol with Portsmouth bobbies on the beat in every neighbourhood in my patch, I have seen first-hand the way our officers touch the lives of the community.
It is no overstatement to say that without them, society would fall apart at the seams.
But is government giving them the tools they need to do their job?
When out in Milton with very experienced officers, I saw first-hand how personnel from neighbourhood teams had to be rapidly drafted in, leaving the neighbourhood team low on numbers.
Officers are overstretched, overworked and filling in for positions out of their remit.
If we look at the simple facts, we see that Hampshire alone has lost 1,050 officers, a staggering 28 per cent decrease. Nationally, nearly 22,000. Overall, government has slashed 19 per cent of funding. These cuts have consequences.
This means the Portsmouth South constituency is now ranked 34 out of 104 when it comes to the highest crime rate. I grew up in Fratton and have lived in Portsmouth all my life, the fact that it is now a less safe place to live is deeply disconcerting.
It is not just police cuts affecting our community. We have seen the government cut youth services, school budgets, overseen more school exclusions, cut mental health services and cut rehabilitation services. On top of this, less criminals are now behind bars.
The Conservatives used to have a robust track record on combating crime. Sadly, it seems that those days are a thing of the past.
We know that this policing crisis has Tory and Lib Dem fingerprints all over it. On top of this, we now have a prime minister wantonly attempting to deceive Portsmouth people on this track record.
Mr Johnson claims he is recruiting 20,000 new officers. The reality is that these massaged statistics include counter terrorism personnel, National Crime Agency staff and newcomers who would have been recruited anyway.
Even if they did recruit 20,000 new officers, this would still be reinstating less than previous Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government cuts.
If someone steals a bicycle, and a week later returns the handlebars, would you rejoice at being given new handle bars? I think not.
Like much of this PM’s promises, when you look closely enough, they mean nothing and crumble to dust.
That is why I will continue to press the government to properly fund policing in Portsmouth and get more bobbies on the beat in our city.
This combination of improving local services to get people back on track alongside more police on our streets will see an end to this violent crime epidemic.